Question about Letters of Recommendation

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Full Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 3, 2015
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Hey everyone, I'll be applying this June and I had a question about letters of recommendation.

A lot of the schools I'm applying to ask for 3 letters from professors (2 science and 1 non-science). I'll be getting one from a professor I've done cancer research with for a year and had for histology class; and one from a professor I've had for Spanish and did 2 research projects with (one in China and one in Mexico :D)

However, I'm not sure who to get my third letter from which should be from a science professor. I've been an instructional lab assistant for microbiology for the last 3 years so I would like to get a letter from that professor who I got an A with in class when I took microbio. The problem is that she isn't very personal and doesn't seem to write very good letters from what I've heard. I think the lab coordinator I work for directly would write a much better letter, but she isn't a professor.

So, do you think it would be better to get a possibly mediocre letter from a professor or a great letter from a lab coordinator who would be considered science faculty? She isn't a passing TA or anything, she's been the lab coordinator for a long time and runs several biology labs like microbio, genetics, and anatomy. I'm just not sure if it absolutely has to be a professor.

Thanks for any insight!

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If the lab coordinator gets alone with the PI, you can ask them to co-sign a letter. It worked for me when my PI asked the neurosurgeon of the department (MD) to co-sign the letter. Make sure you approach your PI and coordinator to make sure they like your idea. Some PI just don't like writing letters (think about how much typing he or she has been already doing).
Sometimes offer a draft is also an option.