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Thinking ahead- recommendations

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by NYCPsych, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. NYCPsych

    NYCPsych Clinical Psy.D.
    5+ Year Member

    Jan 29, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Psychology Student
    Hi everyone,

    I graduated from college in '05 & will be applying to Psy.D. programs this Fall. It seems like most schools request 3 recommendations- and only 3. I'm thinking about whom I'd like to ask, and they're as follows (good relationships with all) :

    1. My current supervisor (clinical research- definitely a yes)
    2. 2 college professors from '04 and/or '05 (at least 1 is a yes, to discuss academic work, right?)
    3. Supervisor at my previous job (non-profit case management- very clinically oriented)
    4. Supervisor at summer internship '04 (NICHD- somewhat more research oriented)

    Sooo my dilemma is that I want to choose 3 very representative people, in order to form a comprehensive picture. I'd also like the recommendations to be well-written, and from well-respected people. I am really running the risk of sounding pretentious, but all the above people have Ph.D.s except for #3. She is only 2 years older than I am (has a B.A.), was an OK writer, & doesn't have much more experience in the field than I do. I may be getting caught up in the rumor that "hot-shot" recommendations are more valuable...
    FYI, current supervisor & professors have degrees in clinical psych & child development. Internship supervisor's degree is in Population Dynamics.

    Thoughts? What's the best combo of recommendations?

    Many thanks to everyone who's so supportive on this forum.
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  3. Duckygirl

    Duckygirl Back on the saddle
    5+ Year Member

    Jan 23, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Psychology Student

    Good to think about ahead of time! I would also recommend asking these professors well in advance, and reminding them continously every couple weeks until you know for sure they have completed your letters. I asked for all my LORs MONTHS in advance, with reminders, and still had some barely arrive on time, and in a few cases, late.

    Now, here is the good news: some schools will ask for AT LEAST three letters! In your case, that gives a better chance. A few big programs come to mind (although I think I've read elsewhere that you're striving for NY area programs): University of Washington, University of Denver, USC, UC Santa Barbara...to name a few that asked for at least 3, and up to 5. Some schools actually account for the high potential of letters not arriving on time (or at all). If you come across programs with similar letter policies, you may have an opportunity to ask most of your people for letters.

    Some programs really want letters from professors only, so you might inquire with programs that seem oriented this way, would they accept a non-academic LOR? I sent at least one non-academic LOR to most of my schools because I've doing clinical work and research out of school for two years, it makes sense for me to include my current supervisor. If I were you, I'd probably drop your previous supervisor from the non-profit case management with only a BA (#3). I don't think it will carry much weight for you. But for the schools that will accept up to 5 letters, it can't hurt.

    I think I'd go with the current supervisor and the two professors, as long as they'll happy comply with your request. If you get hesitation or reservations from them about writing for you, take them off your list. Neutral letters can hurt you. I'd definitely include the internship supervisor at any schools where they ask for more than 3. It also depends on your programs' orientations. I had a combination of 3 professors, my current clinical supervisor, and my thesis advisor (in another field). I chose one professor over others, at times because I had her twice and my last class with her was advanced research methods, where she was able to supervise my research project over a semester. She's the closest thing I had to an undergraduate research supervisor (she was also a developmental psychologist). Weigh each person's background and whether or not each one fits best into the programs you apply to. Don't worry too much about reputation...I think you're better off having a glowing recommendation than a mediocre one from a well-known professional. If you've got professors that are highly respected in their field of work AND they are going to write you a good letter, then go for it!

    Hope this was helpful. You don't have to set your 3 choices in stone, it can fluctuate with program needs. Sorry it was so long!

    One more idea...I sent out SO many letter forms last year, many of which had to come back to me to be sent in one envelope with all of my application materials put together. What occured was that I was receiving multiple letters in the mail from professors, which were addressed to me, but I didn't mark the envelopes as to which school they were for! I had to do a lot of research with the writers to determine which one had come from who, and whether they thought they had sent the Penn State one of the Loyola one first, e.g., as they had come at the same time! Lesson learned: if your writers will be mailing their letters back to you to mail on...mark all the backs of the pre-addressed envelopes with the name (or the initials) of the schools they will go to!

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