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Thread: Academic Reference

  1. #1
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    Default Academic Reference

    Hi, I'm fairly new to these forums, apologies in advance if this is in the wrong section.

    I am intending to apply for JET at the end of this year, and will complete my degree at the end of November. (I am Australian if that matters). When I looked over the application requirements from last year to get a feel for what I would need I found this:

    "If you have not graduated yet, one of the referees must besomeone related to your university and must contain a reference to your expected date of graduation.References should be from a professional source. Personal references are strongly discouraged."


    I honestly don't know who I would ask for this. I do a computer science degree and really don't know my lecturers beyond the content they teach. Tutorials involve me sitting at a pc and completing work for the most part, so the only interaction I have with tutors is asking for help if I need it. With a semester and a half left, would I be best off trying to really build rapport with some lecturers I have next semester? In my final semester we also complete a major development project as a small group in place of regular a subject, so I considered the possibility of asking someone in that group, but I feel that could well constitute a personal reference. I'll have no problems getting a reference from any of the organisations I have done children/youth volunteer work with so that's a non-issue.

  2. #2
    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Academic Reference

    You've almost completed a 4-year degree and haven't gotten to know a prof well enough to ask for a reference? Ouch; and I thought American unis were bad.

    My recommendation? Try to cultivate a sort of friendship or something with someone at your school who has a fancy-sounding title. Be upfront about what you want; let them know that you'll be needing a reference soon, that you'd like them to do it, and you'd like to give them the chance to get to know you well enough that they'd be comfortable providing said reference. It might be kinda awkward, but I don't really know a better way to go about doing this. TBH, they'll probably be so thrown by your honesty that they'll just offer to give you a decent reference right away (the Ben Franklin effect--it works).
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Academic Reference

    A good recommender should have 3 things
    1) they have a good standing position in the school. A Dean for the Poli Sci department writing your recommendation will hold more clout than a Assistant Japanese Professor. It looks better to have a higher up think highly of you.
    2) They should know you fairly well. I suggest joining a club that one of your profs is the advisor for. They will write you a better recommendation if they actually know you. Remember writing 'This kid is a hard worker and they have assisted me in x, y, and z. I am extremely proud of them' sounds a thousand times better than 'this kid showed up to class sometimes, I guess he'd be good for JET'
    3) Pick a prof that you actually like and believe they will take writing your recommendation seriously. I have heard many horror stories of profs taking forever to write and people not getting their letters in time for the application deadline.
    All in all GOOD LUCK

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Academic Reference

    Thanks for the ideas thus far. Professors and similar aren't really involved with the societies, or is almost anyone really. Most people don't join the university's union, which means they can't be in them. Being just past halfway in the semester I feel it may be too late to find a lecturer to do that for me, I doubt any of them bar 1 would even know my name, so I think I will try for next one. That being said my smallest classes have around 80-100 people, so it's pretty rough to stand out at all.

    The best I have for a friend with a fancy sounding title at this time is someone doing a PhD, in a different field of engineering... Not really ideal, so something to work on then right? aha

  5. #5

    Default Re: Academic Reference

    Yea this does sound like a pickle. Is it possible for you to join a club/organization you have an interest in? Maybe the advisor for that can write you a rec. I'm American so most profs sponsor or advise some sort of club activity. You can't throw a rock on my campus and not hit a teacher involved in student life in some way. Do you have a past prof that knows you relatively well? Maybe they can write a good rec.

  6. #6
    Senior Member fryfry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Academic Reference

    Quote Originally Posted by word View Post
    My recommendation? Try to cultivate a sort of friendship or something with someone at your school who has a fancy-sounding title. Be upfront about what you want; let them know that you'll be needing a reference soon, that you'd like them to do it, and you'd like to give them the chance to get to know you well enough that they'd be comfortable providing said reference. It might be kinda awkward, but I don't really know a better way to go about doing this. TBH, they'll probably be so thrown by your honesty that they'll just offer to give you a decent reference right away (the Ben Franklin effect--it works).
    word.
    My first question upon joining this forum was similar to the OP's. My dilemma was whether to use a coworker who knew me well, or the company president, who hardly sees me apart from checking in to see how things are going in my department and telling me "Good job." I was told pretty overwhelmingly to go for the President if he was willing to do one. I can't say for 100% certain whether it was the right choice, but hey, I did get in this year.
    So yeah, I'll just echo what I've heard before: "higher-ups are better." Don't let their personal relationship with you (or lack thereof) factor too much into your decision. Although since you have time to work on that, I'd say definitely do.
    Last edited by Frap; Today at 18:46. Reason: sucker

  7. #7
    Member jaejoa's Avatar
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    Default Re: Academic Reference

    My academic reference wasn't from a higher up but I still got placed as an alternate. It might've helped that both my references were from my university and my non-academic one is affiliated in some way through her work with JET. I personally used the professor I have the closest relationship with and who knows me best and what sort of student/person I am. She's not a tenured professor and only teaches part-time for my minor. I hadn't even thought of asking someone with a fancy title, I just knew I wanted her as my reference. I was a bit worried whether it would be okay because my minor is totally unrelated to JET but I don't think it impacted my application in any way. My friends who've gotten in used our Japanese professor and past supervisors at work.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Academic Reference

    That's all you can do at this point. Try to go to office hours if you can't talk to your professors during or after classes.

    If there are any professors that you've taken classes with for a long time, that would definitely help! If not, the only other option is to get a generic one from a random professor or your academic adviser at your university.

    You can also risk it and just get two from non-university sources, but it will be risky. I don't know how strict the JET Program is, but they may throw your application out or subtract points for not having at least one letter from your university.

    When I applied, I knew I was going to need a couple reference letters after college, so by my 3rd year, I had a few professors in mind. Plus, I went abroad to Japan with one, so that helped a lot! If there are any events, or some kind of short-term internship you can do right now with a professor, do it! The other option is to extend your time at university so you can get at least one or two reference letters.

    I also know that some professors are cool and will let you either give them a list of what to write about you and then they'll sign it, or you just write it and then they sign it. It'll probably save them time too. But of course, you'll need them to read it over to make sure it's ok first.

    Good luck!!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Academic Reference

    Quote Originally Posted by richief_611 View Post
    That's all you can do at this point. Try to go to office hours if you can't talk to your professors during or after classes.

    If there are any professors that you've taken classes with for a long time, that would definitely help! If not, the only other option is to get a generic one from a random professor or your academic adviser at your university.

    You can also risk it and just get two from non-university sources, but it will be risky. I don't know how strict the JET Program is, but they may throw your application out or subtract points for not having at least one letter from your university.

    When I applied, I knew I was going to need a couple reference letters after college, so by my 3rd year, I had a few professors in mind. Plus, I went abroad to Japan with one, so that helped a lot! If there are any events, or some kind of short-term internship you can do right now with a professor, do it! The other option is to extend your time at university so you can get at least one or two reference letters.

    I also know that some professors are cool and will let you either give them a list of what to write about you and then they'll sign it, or you just write it and then they sign it. It'll probably save them time too. But of course, you'll need them to read it over to make sure it's ok first.

    Good luck!!
    Yeah I only decided I would apply after thinking about it and researching for the past few months, would have definitely taken some different steps from the beginning of my course if I planned to apply from earlier. The two non-academic references is tempting on some level because there are 3 people I know who could give an extremely ​strong references between my paid or volunteer child work. But the possibility of getting disqualified is kinda rough.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Academic Reference

    If you are still in school during the application period you HAVE to submit at least one academic reference. I would not try giving 2 non-academic references. I don't know how strict they are in Australia but in America they throw out at least 1/3 of all applications they receive because people don't follow instructions. If you send in 2 non-academic references you could run the risk of your app being thrown out completely or getting points subtracted from your score for not following directions. A lowered score could be the difference between being shortlisted or being an alternate. I suggest you use one of your really awesome non-academic references and try visiting profs office hours and start working on building a rapport. You still have have time between now and November. Don't worry!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Academic Reference

    I think the office hours thing is a little different here... Lecturers have generally have 1-2 hours a week of consultation time during which we can ask them questions, apart from that we're supposed to either email them, or not bother them. I do intend to work on the problem nevertheless.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Academic Reference

    Do they have work-study programs at your University? Both of my references came from Professors I met while doing work-study at a University. I've kept in contact with these people for years after I graduated and have done work with them outside of uni since then. Networking is probably one of the most (if not, the most) important things you can do to ensure a successful career.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Academic Reference

    I don't think so, or at least I haven't heard of such a possibility. I'm starting to think this is, at least partially, an Australia problem because almost no one I know at my, or other universities in my city seem to really know lecturers, unless they tutored that subject in a following year. My marks have never really been high enough to become a tutor. Thanks for the idea though.

  14. #14
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Academic Reference

    Lecturers when I was at uni didn't know any of the students. They knew how to play the game though so most were happy to bang out an generic reference as long as your exam scores were high enough and you didn't look like an obvious sex pest.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

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