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I started my studies in fall 2019. On my second semester covid hit, and all classes were turned online. Even after restrictions started to be lifted and classes can be held offline, a lot of classes (especially the lectures) are held online, often a pre-recorded video or a pre-written/typed document. This results in me having basically zero interactions with the lecture professors.

The saving grace is that I'm close to most of my practice professors. However I asked a practice professor about a recommendation letter, and although he/she said he/she would give me one, it might be on my best interest to ask from the lecture professors.

My question is, is the assertion above true? Also, should I still try to ask for recommendation letters from my lecture professors (who might not even remember me)? I did get an A, but "he got an A" and nothing else seems like a weak recommendation letter to me. I actually got a B in the class that the practice professor taught me, however I'm very positive that I would get a strong recommendation letter from the practice professor, hence me asking him/her (unfortunately for this class I also have no relationship with the lecture professor).

Another question is that I have a professor who I have a positive relationship with, and I think I'm about to get a third A with him/her. However, while the subject is very serious and foundational, I do not think getting an A is achievement in this particular class, as the exams were too easy, and everyone got at least a B (I think).

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Let me suggest that you try a hybrid approach. To be honest, I've never tried this, but the times are weird so I'd consider it if I were the professor and someone came to me with the following.

The dilemma is that a person with not much reputation knows you and your work, but their superior who has the reputation doesn't really know much about you.

In some similar circumstances, a professor will ask the student to provide a draft of the letter that they might edit and then submit. But I'll suggest you explore something different.

Perhaps the "practice" instructor, I'm guessing a TA under the direction of the professor, can have a conversation about you with the professor and themself write a draft for the professor to edit/approve/sign. The professor is assured of some independence and really only needs to depend on their trust of the assistant. And if the assistant knows and respects your work, then you would probably get about the same outcome as if there wasn't the need for the intermediary.

I'd consider asking the assistant whether they are comfortable with this and let them and the professor work out the details if so.

Odd thought for odd times, perhaps.

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  • I see, this is an interesting idea. I am unsure of how to communicate this proposal though, should I suggest it to my professor? Or is it better to specifically make a request for it to my professor? I am an international student, so I am not so sure about what level of "blunt-ness" I should use, to maintain polite-ness. Nov 26, 2021 at 14:41
  • I would first take it up with the person you know best; the TA.
    – Buffy
    Nov 26, 2021 at 14:43
  • Nice answer. In fact, I was such a TA once and got approached by a student for a letter of recommendation. We did exactly what you suggested and everybody was happy. Nov 27, 2021 at 0:06

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