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Thread: A gift for future applicants

  1. #1
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    A gift for future applicants

    Sponsored Ad:
    Here's what an LOR looks like. Since I've been rejected by my first two choices and most of the remaining schools fell into the category of impossible long shots, I have very little to lose. It's funny now that I was scared to read this. Even though I've had it for 4 months, I didn't want to jinx myself.

    I tried to remove all the information that might identify me just to be cautious.

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Mr. NAME has asked that I write a letter of recommendation on his behalf. I do this with absolutely no reservation. NAME was a student in my econometrics course (Economics COURSE #) during the Winter 2007 term at the SCHOOL. At the time, I was Visiting Professor of Economics on leave from SCHOOL.

    Economics COURSE # is a second quarter econometrics sequence course covering topics in econometric methods. The first quarter is devoted to linear model regression theory, while the third quarter is devoted to applications and original research. My course began with a high level review of linear model theory using matrix algebra and matrix calculus. This was followed by four weeks of limited dependent variable econometrics (discrete dependent variables, fractional dependent variables, maximum likelihood, minimum chi-square, logit, probit, and other limited dependent variable techniques). The course places an emphasis on theoretical applications in situations involving individual and aggregate data. The second half of the course covered topics in time-series econometrics, including difference equations, ARMA models, seasonality, and Box-Jenkins model fitting. I taught this course at a fairly advanced level and it differed from undergraduate courses I have taught at SCHOOL only in the necessity to introduce or review some mathematics for students lacking a background in matrix calculus or elementary complex analysis, which I touched upon.

    NAME’s performance of A work in this course was, therefore, stellar. As I recall, his attendance was perfect and I enjoyed speaking with him outside of class. NAME is a nice, earnest young man.

    I have had the opportunity to review NAME’s GRE scores, undergraduate transcript, and I read his honor’s thesis. First, NAME has excellent scores and grades, especially in critical mathematical areas (e.g. two quarters of real analysis). He has taken a rigorous path as an undergraduate by completing a double major in mathematics and economics and by writing an optional honors thesis.

    I found NAME’s undergraduate thesis to be both interesting and scholarly. While I did not supervise his thesis work, I think that NAME shows excellent potential for graduate level work. NAME’s thesis first discusses THESIS DESCRIPTION.

    I have also had the pleasure to be NAME’s employer for the last year. NAME is currently a research assistant at COMPANY in CITY. I am a JOB TITLE in COMPANY DESCRIPTION. My partners and I interviewed NAME and several of my other SCHOOL students for a single research assistant position. NAME was unanimously selected for the position. NAME has been an excellent research assistant and has taken the lead role on several of my projects. This job involves significant empirical skills and close attention to detail. While NAME’s interests may have been more theoretical, he has also now had plenty of experience in real empirical projects involving substantial data collection and econometrics. However, I predict that NAME will go in the direction of academic research, rather than consulting.

    I have no doubt that NAME will succeed in a top Ph.D. program in economics. He has better preparation than most graduate school applicants and will not have difficulty with the mathematics, statistics, or theoretical economics. He has the interest, determination, and background to become an accomplished research academic and teacher. Again, I recommend NAME without any hesitation.

    DR. NAME
    Professor of Economics
    SCHOOL

    and

    Visiting Professor of Economics
    SCHOOL
    So feel free to critique it. Is it good/bad? Any code words that might tip off an adcom. The setence in red certainly stood out to me as implying mediocrity. Help future generations to avoid my mistake: wildly overestimating my potential.

    It was fun while it lasted, kids. Congratulations to everyone that was accepted.

  2. #2
    At Minnesota pevdoki1's Avatar
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    I know at least 2 of my letters look NOTHING like that, lol.

    I used 2 math professors, and I didn't show them my grades, GRE scores, didn't tell them ANYTHING about economics etc (even though I have a near 4.0 GPA and an 800). Correction: I remember telling one of them what my statistics were, but not the other.

    Anyway, I wonder what they wrote.




    P.S. Don't lose hope.
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  3. #3
    The Fire! Mr.Keen's Avatar
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    Two of my LORs know my whole record. The other two don't. I think at least one of my LORs looked somewhat like this. I think two were a lot stronger. I am uncertain about the fourth.

  4. #4
    ... filroz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Keen View Post
    I think two were a lot stronger.
    Stronger then this???
    I'd say that you need to be next incarnation of Adam Smith to beat that...
    in: BU (waitlisted for $)
    out: Berkeley, NWU, Princeton, Columbia,Stanford,(assumed) NYU,


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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage israelecon's Avatar
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    i have no idea what my was in my LORs, but i doubt that any of my recommenders wrote that much. i think what is missing is comparisons to other students. i think adcoms are looking for things like "this is the best student i have had in the past 5 years", or "he achieved the highest (or second highest) grade in a class of 300". basically i think the problem is that he didn't give more info than the adcom would have gotten by reading your transcript by themselves.
    also it depends who writes the recommendation. if the guy who wrote it is not well-known then its a really weak recommendation, but if a well-known respected economists writes it then it is worth significantly more. i mean, if a famous professor writes that you "have great potential for graduate work", that will open doors for you. if its someone who no one knows the same phrase will not have much weight.

  6. #6
    At Minnesota pevdoki1's Avatar
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    3 out of 3 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No
    Quote Originally Posted by filroz View Post
    Stronger then this???
    I'd say that you need to be next incarnation of Adam Smith to beat that...

    Actually, what sets Adam Smith apart from a modern economist is that he was a philosopher. He had a ton of original ideas (philosophical ideas) and very little of the 4.0 GPA/800Q GRE crap. In fact, Oxford was a shithole in his day!

    I think I miss those days of economics So much of research coming out now is utterly boring..
    "Since it befalls, that in most instances
    Current opinion leans to false: and then
    Affection bends the judgment to her ply."

    Dante Alighieri

  7. #7
    ... filroz's Avatar
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    Ok, it's not for Adam Smith, but still it's VERY positive.
    in: BU (waitlisted for $)
    out: Berkeley, NWU, Princeton, Columbia,Stanford,(assumed) NYU,


  8. #8
    TestMagic Outlier buckykatt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 08Applicant View Post
    So feel free to critique it. Is it good/bad? Any code words that might tip off an adcom. The setence in red certainly stood out to me as implying mediocrity. Help future generations to avoid my mistake: wildly overestimating my potential.
    The letter you quoted strikes me as reasonably well-written. The writer gives detail to establish why they can make a recommendation about your preparation and research potential and then says clearly and without reservation that you "will succeed in a top Ph.D. program in economics". While "better preparation than most" might not sound like a strong statement, you're being compared to graduate students in economics, not undergraduates in general.

    I don't think a careful reader would construe this as a weak recommendation, but perhaps it would sound that way to someone plowing through a stack of applications. Something of the form "among the top x% of students I've taught" might have worked better, especially if the writer led with it up front. The length of the letter might also work against you, because someone in a hurry might be tempted to skim after encountering that long description of your metrics course.
    Attending: UConn

  9. #9
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage israelecon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by filroz View Post
    Ok, it's not for Adam Smith, but still it's VERY positive.
    but, i think you have to realize that there is recommendation inflation nowadays. so every recommender writes that the student he is writing for is wonderful and brilliant etc. thats why the adcom is looking for something more than that. today a "positive" letter is meaningless because everyone gets them. nowadays you need a lot more than "positive".

  10. #10
    Click My Avatar! YoungEconomist's Avatar
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    As far as I can tell, that is a really solid LOR. Did you apply to pretty top notch programs? If so, then this has probably been the problem, as top programs can be highly random since there are so many solid applicants fighting for (relatively) few spots. I wouldn't worry myself if I were you, as it sounds like you'll have a good chance at going somewhere for your PhD.

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