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OyVey

Discretionary Reference - High Profile or Not for 2nd Reference

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I am posting here instead of the school specific sub-forums as I imagine I will get the widest reach. 

I will be applying through the discretionary category, and for the schools that I will be applying to, I am required to submit two references. 

The first reference is someone who knows me well and everything about me. She has been my boss, mentor, and like a mom. She can speak to my professional accomplishments and personal challenges. 

My challenge is in choosing my second reference. I have a few options, and do not know which one it should be. It could be someone that knows me, but not with the depth of the other options, but is high profile and is widely recognized for her professional accomplishments, or others that also really know me and have played the role of sometimes boss, sometimes mentor and sometimes mom. 

I imagine that each of them would say similar things about me but from their own perspective. The high profile one wouldn't have the depth that the others could have because she has not worked directly with me but has played a different role.

For those that have gone through the discretionary route, who would you choose? And why?

My choice school is UBC. It really is the only one I want to go to for a number of reasons, so if you are a former/current UBC discretionary student or have familiarity with the process, please chime in. I am not going to be a borderline candidate. My GPA is low, and my only LSAT will be this January. My first PT was 160, and I am confident I can bring it up but I am not sure by how much. So I am really relying on the totality of my application including references to help support my application. My reasons for discretionary and professional accomplishments are solid. I have no concerns there. It is the references that I am unsure about. 

(my second reference won't be an academic reference. I am long out of school and am confident that I am older than 95% of you applying for fall entry. Who would have been my academic reference is now very old and said that his memory is going and cannot remember me. I didn't keep in touch with professors this many years later). 

Edit: To clarify, the person who is the high profile individual does know me. She knows my professional accomplishments, personal history and has acted as a significant mentor. I think that the average person would use her, but the others know me at a far more significant depth than she does. As an example, she knows about my challenges, but didn't work with me when they were happening. She knows about my advocacy but hasn't witnessed me in action.

And that said, the first few comments have shown that I should go with the other options instead of the high profile. I am concerned that two references will likely be so similar in their perspective, and was thinking that it might be good to have someone that is a bit different - but perhaps not. Now I have two choose between two people to be my 2nd reference. I wish I could just ask them to write it together and have them submit one as it would make it so much easier (one reported up to the other but both were senior staff at my old organization and remain very close friends). 

Edited by OyVey

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Some school websites explicitly say "don't choose a reference just because they're high profile, it won't help you"

It seems like what they care about is getting to actually know you which can't happen if your reference doesn't really know you in depth

Edited by castlepie

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17 minutes ago, OyVey said:

The first reference is someone who knows me well and everything about me. She has been my boss, mentor, and like a mom. She can speak to my professional accomplishments and personal challenges. 

Choose another person like this; that's why UBC asks discretionary applicants for reference letters.

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Going to echo the above. Go with someone that knows you well over someone who barely knows you.

I'm in a similar position to you, applying as a mature / discretionary applicant who finished their undergrad 15 years ago, so good luck getting academic references. I wound up going with references who I've worked with closely over the past ten years of my career, and who could speak to both my professional accomplishments, as well as my suitability as a law school candidate.

Best of luck to you!

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