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Which professor should I ask for a letter of recommendation?

Posted

I'm getting ready to apply to my school of choice and I need two letters of recommendation. Seeing as I have no real prior work or volunteer experience, I was going to ask some of my professors.

I already know at least one: my former A & P professor. I'm confused about the second one. A & P is the most recent science course I've taken. All my other courses are non-nursing related. I have a previous bachelors degree in Art History, so I thought I should ask my old advisor. He knew me for about three years, so I thought this would be an easy choice... until I realized I haven't seen him in about two years and Art History is completely non-related. I could ask a math professor I had last semester, but I only knew him for one semester, so I thought the art history one would be better... of course, I've recently seen the math professor and the math course he taught was a pre-req for the nursing program.

What do you think?

InfirmiereJolie

Has 5 years experience.

Why don't you ask all three then choose the best two?

I'm actually not allowed to see the recommendations. I have to give them an addressed envelope and they send it in. I wonder if that policy is typical.

zoe92

Has 2 years experience.

It's normal to not see the recommendations. It can be a policy set by the school or by the professor writing the recommendation.

InfirmiereJolie

Has 5 years experience.

Sometimes professors will nicely let you see the letter before they send it in, some will not.

Could you ask someone you've already asked for a letter before and then you know they are good recommenders?

I've never asked them for a recommendation before, so I don't know how either of them write.

I guess my biggest question is, does it really matter if the professor's subject is really unrelated to the field of nursing? I feel kinda silly asking my art history professor for a nursing recommendation even if it doesn't matter to the people reviewing my application.

I don't think the specific class makes much of a difference, but maybe you should ask your school just to be safe. My program I am applying to next semester wants a letter of recommendation, and mine will be coming from my psychology professor.

InfirmiereJolie

Has 5 years experience.

Well, if there are only 3 options, and only 1 is going to be from a science professor, then the 2nd letter will be coming from someone not necessarily relating to your major.

The most important letter will be from the A & P professor and the other will be secondary. It's best to find someone who can give you the best letter, though sometimes the best will come from someone you do not expect. If you were at the top of your class, this is optimal. It's best to talk to them in person about yourself and remind them who you are (since it's been 2 years), then tell them details about yourself, e.g., volunteer work, leadership positions, hardships, ect. They'll then write about their impressions on your personality (how you communicate and get along with others), your academic abilities in the class and how this would relate to future educational work, ect.

Ask whichever one is the most articulate in their writing and is most likely to actually do it if/when they say they will. Go by what they have said or written for the class you were in or any papers they may have published (should be links to them on their professor's page on the school website) so don't write off math professors just because they teach math, some of them are very articulate even in their writing.

Also, don't ask "will you do this", ask something much more open ended that will give you a feel for what kind of recommendation they might give.

I would go with the one that knows you the best and can speak most knowledgeably of your attributes. Doing well in A&P/science is important, but it isn't the only thing nursing schools look for. Good luck.

psu_213, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant. Has 6 years experience.

I'm actually not allowed to see the recommendations. I have to give them an addressed envelope and they send it in. I wonder if that policy is typical.

In my experience, yes it is...

psu_213, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant. Has 6 years experience.

I've never asked them for a recommendation before, so I don't know how either of them write.

I guess my biggest question is, does it really matter if the professor's subject is really unrelated to the field of nursing? I feel kinda silly asking my art history professor for a nursing recommendation even if it doesn't matter to the people reviewing my application.

Not being in nursing school it would be almost impossible to a letter of rec. from a professor in a nursing related field. Which of your choices knows you better? I think the better letter and a stronger recommendation will be written by the professor that knows you better. The school is going to want to know how you perform in a rigorous academic environment. The school also wants to know about you as a person...what sort of character do you have? You have to decide which of the choices can write more eloquently and cogently about you. The school knows that most students don't have an academic background in nursing, and aren't going to expect your letters to come from those with a nursing background.

I'm leaning towards asking my former art history advisor/professor. I took five courses with him over the span of two years, so I felt like he adequately got to know me and my academic strengths. Hopefully, as others have stated, science courses aren't the only courses they want. I know professors are used to writing recommendations, so I hope the art history professor isn't weirded out with a nursing school one. The supplemental form I have to send with the recommendation asks questions that are pretty generic, and can probably apply to any subject area.

Most schools look for A&P, Micro and English. If you already know you can get letters from A&P professor, see if you can get one from your former English instructor too.

NightNerd, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-surg/tele. Has 7 years experience.

I would go with the Art History advisor. Since you have a reference from someone who taught you in the sciences, go with the one who knows you best and can speak highly of your work ethic, ability to learn and succeed, etc.

I would go with your Art History Advisor. Just as the job references you provide, schools want a recommendation from someone who knows you well and for a decent amount of tiem.