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Stupid question about LOR's

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patrick1674

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Do most people ask a professor for a LOR if they did good in a class or they ask a professor that they have gotten to know?

Has anyone one here done the first of those two? Like for me I'm in gen chem 101 and gen bio 101 with both classes taking places in lecture halls with 500 or so students.

How would one be able to stand out and gett to knwo the professor? I've tried going to office hours to "just shoot the breeze" but that doesn't work too well.

Or do profs just write LOR's for students who do well in their class?
 

bravofleet4

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It's not one or the other, you want both. The dilemma you've mentioned with large classes and inaccessibility during even office hours faces all pre-med's. That's why it's so much work trying to get one. You don't want to ask LOR's from the gen chem 101 or gen bio 101 unless you're absolutely out of options with no time left to go. As it's only halfway through the quarter, I think you've still got time to get to know some professors. Many people ask for LOR's from their upper-division professors anyway. Some professors will also directly address in the beginning of class how to ask them for a LOR which you should always take advantage of.
 

alexlex143

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It's not one or the other, you want both. The dilemma you've mentioned with large classes and inaccessibility during even office hours faces all pre-med's. That's why it's so much work trying to get one. You don't want to ask LOR's from the gen chem 101 or gen bio 101 unless you're absolutely out of options with no time left to go. As it's only halfway through the quarter, I think you've still got time to get to know some professors. Many people ask for LOR's from their upper-division professors anyway. Some professors will also directly address in the beginning of class how to ask them for a LOR which you should always take advantage of.

I agree. Plus, at my university, the upper-division science courses have a lot less students in them (around 30-40 I would say per section) compared to the lower division science courses. I don't know if it's like that at all universities, but it makes sense since there people are less apt to take upper division science courses if it's not required for their majors. Lower division science courses tend to have people in them who are trying to fulfill GE requirements.
 
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You ideally ask a professor who gave you an A, in whose class you interacted and asked good questions, so they can atest to your academic abilities, possibly your scientific curiosity, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, and work ethic, who is also a professor who knows you on a personal level, who can reflect on your personal qualities that would make you a good choice for an acceptance. One without the other results in a letter that won't help you much.
 

Quester

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Would a prof ever say no for research ref letter, if you only talked to him/her like 4 times after lectures, but you have an A in that class?:confused:
 

FloatOn

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Would a prof ever say no for research ref letter, if you only talked to him/her like 4 times after lectures, but you have an A in that class?:confused:

It's totally up to the person. First you should ask if they feel comfortable writing you a strong recommendation or reference letter. Then take it from there and be flexible with the prof so that they can get to know you better.
 

RevMD

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When it comes to LORs, always go for the advanced level classes first. The smaller class sizes make it more likely the professor will know who you are if you asked them a few questions during the semester and are one of the few students who got an A in the class. And I agree, gen ed classes with 300+ students are probably last resort, unless you managed to really know the professor enough.
 

patrick1674

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So for the people that have gotten to know their professors (in general upper div or not); was it through going to office hours and just shooting the breeze (taking about regular everyday stuff)?
Because often times when I've down that the conversation eventually hits a brick wall.
 

2nite

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So for the people that have gotten to know their professors (in general upper div or not); was it through going to office hours and just shooting the breeze (taking about regular everyday stuff)?
Because often times when I've down that the conversation eventually hits a brick wall.


Typically what I do is go in with a set of questions on the reading or the previous lecture. I'll ask the first question, he'll answer it, I'll think of something really cool related to that that I heard, bring it up, he'll think it's cool to and it will relate to something else really cool in everyday life, which we'll talk about, and we'll move onto some other completely random thing... and once that hits a dead end I have another question to ask :) Or, do some research on your professor, and find out what he likes. It might seem creepy, but it's a good strategy. Or, if you know your professor likes something, focus on that. For example, after every football game my professor mentions how well (or poorly) we did at the beginning of class -- so I started picking up on that and talking about how crazy the game was, or how amazing it was when the pulled through on that fourth down for a touchdown with 30 seconds to go, etc. If you're involved in a club with an upcoming activity, maybe invite your professor to come and participate.

Edit: Also, if possible (assuming it's okay with your professor), try to avoid going in during office hours, when his office will be crowded. Pick a time that is mutually convenient, maybe meet at starbucks for a cup o' coffee.
 

patrick1674

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How often would you pass by his office/office hours?

Like once a week, once a month?
 

2nite

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It depends on the professor. Last semester I had one professor who was particularly sociable, so I stopped by several times a week. Another professor who I was also interested in getting to know didn't seem quite so interested, so I stopped by once a month. That's actually a problem for me, because I'm really bad at taking hints... I can't call this a rule of thumb, because I've not done it enough, but I think you can base it on their enthusiasm. For example, every time I stopped by the first professor would say something like "please come by again soon! it's great to have to," while the other one would just say "i'll see in you class," rather boringly. Just play it by ear, I think. Maybe someone else can offer more input on this.
 
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