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Is a teacher's reference 'stronger' than an employer's reference?

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    My tutor gave me an average, half-hearted reference when I applied for dentistry in October. So I'm taking a gap year, because I wasn't accepted into the course and will apply again next year.

    Instead of asking my tutor for a UCAS reference, I'm going to ask my employer. I know he will give me a really good one because he's very enthusiastic about helping people.

    So my question is, would universities think any-less of a UCAS reference by my employer compared to a school teacher?
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    (Original post by ice_man)
    My tutor gave me an average, half-hearted reference when I applied for dentistry in October. So I'm taking a gap year, because I wasn't accepted into the course and will apply again next year.

    Instead of asking my tutor for a UCAS reference, I'm going to ask my employer. I know he will give me a really good one because he's very enthusiastic about helping people.

    So my question is, would universities think any-less of a UCAS reference by my employer compared to a school teacher?
    It should be an acedemic reference, so yes a reference by a teacher or someone who knows you in an academic context would definitely be preferred. This is what the UCAS website says:

    References are usually written by someone who knows you academically. Most references will talk about you from a teacher's or tutor's perspective: how you work and interact with other students and teachers, for example. Your reference does not have to be academic, but if you're studying or have recently left school or college, a reference from your school or college will be expected.
    http://www.ucas.com/students/applyin...pply/reference
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    Hi Ice_man,

    Your referee should be someone who knows you well enough in an academic capacity to comment on your suitability for study at university. It is usually expected that this will be someone from your school/college, unless you left several years ago.

    An enthusiastic reference by someone who likes helping people is nice but might not actually support your application if he can't comment on your academic abilities.
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    (Original post by ice_man)
    My tutor gave me an average, half-hearted reference when I applied for dentistry in October. So I'm taking a gap year, because I wasn't accepted into the course and will apply again next year.

    Instead of asking my tutor for a UCAS reference, I'm going to ask my employer. I know he will give me a really good one because he's very enthusiastic about helping people.

    So my question is, would universities think any-less of a UCAS reference by my employer compared to a school teacher?
    If your employer is a dentist then perhaps it would equal your tutor. If he's the manager at Tesco then you'll definitely need your tutor.
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    (Original post by F1 fanatic)
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    (Original post by studiousgeek)
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    (Original post by agoetcherian)
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    Thanks for your replies, guys.

    Since it must be an academic reference, if I ask my year 10 & 11 tutor to write one instead of my 6th form tutor, will there be any difference in the 'weight' that the reference will carry in the university admission team's eyes?

    This may be subjective or maybe someone has experience with similar circumstances?
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    (Original post by ice_man)
    Thanks for your replies, guys.

    Since it must be an academic reference, if I ask my year 10 & 11 tutor to write one instead of my 6th form tutor, will there be any difference in the 'weight' that the reference will carry in the university admission team's eyes?

    This may be subjective or maybe someone has experience with similar circumstances?
    So long as it is an academic reference and they're in a position to comment on you/know you well, then which teacher writes it isn't too important. UCAS and the universities are not going to know exactly how your school/college dishes out the writing of references in any case.
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    You may find that your school will reuse the old one, since they have not been in a position to see any changes since you left. There's no harm in asking, but don't be surprised.
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    (Original post by carnationlilyrose)
    You may find that your school will reuse the old one, since they have not been in a position to see any changes since you left. There's no harm in asking, but don't be surprised.
    Except he's on a gap year, so it's very easy just to email the required teacher while applying as a independent.
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    (Original post by Silkielemon)
    Except he's on a gap year, so it's very easy just to email the required teacher while applying as a independent.
    It is, but if he only left last year, the teacher may well just go to the old reference because it contains details of all the academic study he did in the sixth form. An academic reference from a school is not usually written by just one teacher. It's an amalgam of the input of all the subject teachers and a year 11 tutor alone will not have the depth of knowledge required to write on all four subjects, especially in the depth needed for a dentistry application. In addition, there are systems in place in schools for sending references off and it's usually only a few senior staff, such as the head of sixth, who have the necessary passwords to do it.
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    (Original post by carnationlilyrose)
    It is, but if he only left last year, the teacher may well just go to the old reference because it contains details of all the academic study he did in the sixth form. An academic reference from a school is not usually written by just one teacher. It's an amalgam of the input of all the subject teachers and a year 11 tutor alone will not have the depth of knowledge required to write on all four subjects, especially in the depth needed for a dentistry application. In addition, there are systems in place in schools for sending references off and it's usually only a few senior staff, such as the head of sixth, who have the necessary passwords to do it.
    Fair enough, when I did it the teacher asked if I had one (which I did - got emailed mine last year) or if he should write another. Anyway, we're both right here I guess - depends on his school.

    Easiest way is for him to ask :P
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    (Original post by Silkielemon)
    Fair enough, when I did it the teacher asked if I had one (which I did - got emailed mine last year) or if he should write another. Anyway, we're both right here I guess - depends on his school.

    Easiest way is for him to ask :P
    It is indeed. With dentistry, it's so competitive that he needs to do everything he can to make his application more attractive. It's worth trying.
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    I would concur with the above. A reference coming from any tutor in your school/college is likely to carry equal weight.

    I am surprised that a reference alone could affect an application this much, but I do know that dentistry is a highly competitive field.
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    (Original post by studiousgeek)
    I would concur with the above. A reference coming from any tutor in your school/college is likely to carry equal weight.

    I am surprised that a reference alone could affect an application this much, but I do know that dentistry is a highly competitive field.
    No, a reference from one person will not carry as much weight, because one person cannot comment on all the academic work OP has done in his time at the school. A UCAS reference has very specific requirements in terms of what is mentioned. It is very detailed and needs to reflect all aspects of the student's performance, which one person alone cannot know. I've been a sixth form tutor for 24 years and have written my share of hundreds of them. Subject teachers will contribute their sections, the form tutor will do theirs and a senior teacher may well add more. In our school the head of sixth and the head teacher add bits in, too. Dentistry is one of the most competitive courses there is and a lukewarm reference could very easily be the difference between getting an interview and not getting one.
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    (Original post by carnationlilyrose)
    No, a reference from one person will not carry as much weight, because one person cannot comment on all the academic work OP has done in his time at the school. A UCAS reference has very specific requirements in terms of what is mentioned. It is very detailed and needs to reflect all aspects of the student's performance, which one person alone cannot know. I've been a sixth form tutor for 24 years and have written my share of hundreds of them. Subject teachers will contribute their sections, the form tutor will do theirs and a senior teacher may well add more. In our school the head of sixth and the head teacher add bits in, too. Dentistry is one of the most competitive courses there is and a lukewarm reference could very easily be the difference between getting an interview and not getting one.
    wow interesting fact!
    Do you have idea (or tips) on how I can get my tutor, who probably spent 20 minutes max. on my reference last time, to write me a better one? I asked him why my reference wasn't full of praise, like many would would expect it to be, and he said "well, I'm not going to make things up," The problem is he hardly knows me because I moved to a different school after year 11, to attend this sixth form.

    I have no idea what I should do, he's such an unenthusiastic teacher, it hurts.
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    (Original post by ice_man)
    wow interesting fact!
    Do you have idea (or tips) on how I can get my tutor, who probably spent 20 minutes max. on my reference last time, to write me a better one? I asked him why my reference wasn't full of praise, like many would would expect it to be, and he said "well, I'm not going to make things up," The problem is he hardly knows me because I moved to a different school after year 11, to attend this sixth form.

    I have no idea what I should do, he's such an unenthusiastic teacher, it hurts.
    That's unfortunate. I'd suggest going into your school with an appointment to see the head of sixth, or whoever processes your application, with a view to chatting through your renewed application. Don't see the tutor who wrote it in the first instance. Go in a spirit of keenness to make a better job of the application this year and ask advice. Be very, very compliant. Take along a list of the things you've done or have lined up to do in the time inbetween your last application and the new one and ask for them to be included in your reference. Use that as a way of bringing up the supportiveness of your reference in a positive way and ask for help. I think it unlikely that there will be anything actually negative in the reference, because the protocol is to be positive and hint at things being amiss by leaving things out, so look to see whether the reference mentions things like reliability, punctuality, responsibility etc. If there's something like that missing and you feel you have got those qualities, gently enquire if something can be added. (Be aware, though, that the reference character limit is the same as the PS, so if it's full, something may have to go.) At all times, be polite and calm about it. There are two sides to every story. He should do his professional duty to write a truthful and helpful reference and if it's not quite up to scratch, then you should ask for it to reflect the truth, but equally, if you have not been a model pupil (and I obviously don't know you, so I have no idea) you cannot aask him to compromise the school's reputation as a reliable source of information, since that jeopardises other people's chances in the future. Good luck!
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    damn you missed out on a dentistry offer because of a bloody teacher's pre-biased view against you! i'd be pissed !!!!!
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    Can't you just put both? Ucas seems like such a long time ago...
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    No, one tutor will not spoil anyone's chance, I know a Headmaster from a private school who will read all the references before being sent. Please give some credit to School Head and Head of sixth form, they do want their students to get into universities. If your GCSEs, AS grades and your personal statement are great, an average school reference shouldn't cost you an offer.


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