varunner

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Hey everyone, do you think its OK to have a LOR from a graduate TA? I know schools ask for LORs from faculty, but would a TA count as faculty? I was in an intro bio lab where the TAs basically taught everything, so I got a LOR from her as opposed to the professor whom I didn't even know. Any thoughts? Thanks!!
 

Dr Durden

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See if you can get the TA who knew you to write it and then have the professor sign it. Letters from graduate students tend to not carry much weight in the eyes of adcoms even though most undergrad research is done under their supervision.
 
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varunner

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Dr Durden said:
See if you can get the TA who knew you to write it and then have the professor sign it. Letters from graduate students tend to not carry much weight in the eyes of adcoms even though most undergrad research is done under their supervision.
Yeah I know my TA fairly well, however I don't know my professor. I actually already asked him if he would cosign it but he said that would be unethical as he did not write the letter nor did he know me (until I stopped by his office to talk to him about cosigning). What do you think?
 
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DrLizzie

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I am a TA and I had my students ask me for a LOR. I strongly suggest that you ask a faculty/professor for a LOR. It would look much better if it comes from a faculty since they are the ones (usually) assesing your ability to do well in the course that you have had with them (not to say that a TA doesn't). That's why it's so important for students to early one have a relationship with the professor in science and as well as in non scinece classes so that the profssor can write a personl LOR compared to a non personal/generic one, which will actually hurt you more. If you feel that the TA knows your well enough to write you a PERSONAL LOR then go ahead and ask him/her. But I would strongly suggest that you find faculty/professor first and use a TA as your last resort.
 

Dr Durden

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varunner said:
he said that would be unethical as he did not write the letter nor did he know me
That's the problem right there, though there's little you can do about it now. See if he will let you sit down with him over lunch sometime to discuss your ambitions and the direction of your future work. Will he at the very least look over your past work in his lab and a personal statement?

If not, go with the TA but only as a last resort. Surely there are other science courses you could use for a letter of rec.

PS Cosigning isn't that uncommon a practice, but I wouldn't bother arguing this. If he can't trust the judgment of his grad students to evaluate those in his lab, he sounds like a pretty poor professor.
 

CavalierMD

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I was in a writing class that was taught by a prof but we had small "studio sessions" every week that were led by graduate students. While the TA knew me best, the prof has also read all of my work (by nature of how the class operated) so I got my TA to write a letter for me, just because she could write about my communication and interpersonal skills, but the prof had no problem adding onto the letter and co-signing it, because he was familiar with me on academic terms. Worked out fine, I feel it's probably one of my strongest letters... so the moral is: Yes, TAs know you better, but get the prof to "sign off." And don't do this with all your letters... but one TA letter in a packet of prof/advisor letters shouldn't be terrible :luck:
 
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varunner

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Well, my professor (when I met with him) said that he couldn't add anything of any significance to the LOR by having only a 1 hour meeting with him, however he did say that my TA's letter (which he was sent a copy of, naturally) was excellent. I guess I'll just stick with this as my only TA LOR then. Thanks!
 

Mooby

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I don't know if a LOR from a TA will fulfill the requirements for an academic LOR if you need those. I think many schools are very specific about the 2-3 academic letters coming from professors.

I really wouldn't go to the TA unless you've published with them or are submitting 5 or more letters, and even then, I think it's better to get letters from others like volunteer coordinators, bosses, or research supervisors.
 
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