Recommender didn't send a letter?

buddyo
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Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby buddyo » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:20 am

My girlfriend and I each applied to the same grad schools, planning to move together to a new, magical, gradschooly place. She applied to programs in clinical psychology, which is a very competitive field. Despite a 3.98 gpa and research experience, she got rejected from each school we applied to. Frustrated, she e-mailed an institution to ask what she should improve for applying next year. They sent back a letter today explaining they didn't receive a letter of recommendation from one of her recommenders.

Apparently each of the 8 schools we applied to didn't bother to mention they were missing a letter of recommendation and she wasted ~$600 and countless hours applying to schools with no chance of getting in. Are the schools to blame for pocketing her money without even explaining the reason for her rejections?

Also, should we send an email to her professor, explaining that he screwed her?

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zxcv
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby zxcv » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:30 am

Oh god, that's horrible :(. The same thing nearly happened to one of my good friends. He worked with a prof at UCSD for 3 summers, and then heard that UCSD rejected him because the prof didn't send the letter. Fortunately at that point it wasn't too late for him and he was able to get in after all.

I guess the lesson is to always verify that your applications are complete and to check online applications to see if letters are uploaded?

I don't know what's best to do at this point. I'm sure her professor would feel horrible if she mentions it but she'll probably have to get letters again to apply next year if she still wants to do it.

By the way, a guy who came to my school to talk about getting into grad school mentioned that it's apparently every clinical psychology program has lower admit rates than Harvard medical school. It's tough, but it sucks like she was prepared.

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jdhooghe
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby jdhooghe » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:52 am

I had that happen to me recently. I bugged him in early December about a recommendation due on the first of January. All throughout the month I continually reminded him and when the day came and went, he finally emailed back and said he was really busy and never consented in the first place. I replied by forwarding his emailed response and, in sarcastic tones, told him it was ok. I can understand, at least a part of, your girlfriend's grief and I am sorry that she spent over $600 dollars for nothing. She should absolutely confront her professor and the schools for their failures. During the process, my schools, when asked about my file's completeness, just told me to look at their websites so it is totally understandable that she would be mad. I'll be hoping that you get compensated.

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quizivex
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby quizivex » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:24 am

wow buddyo, that's depressing. Hopefully she can make good use of this year, reapply next year and join you later on.

I'm suprised that could happen since most applications are done online nowadays and they send e-mail confirmations when letters are submitted. Any school that's bassackwards enough to still use snail mail forms or doesn't at least have the courtesy to confirm whether an applicant's paperwork is complete is inconsiderate...

FOR ALL OF YOU FUTURE APPLICANTS OUT THERE... LET THIS BE A LESSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also, try to master the skill of "reminding" very carefully... I was always too wimpish to remind my profs since I didn't want to annoy them or feel awkward... I managed to remind them in a sneaky way by getting them to proofread my CV... and it turns out one of them had completely forgot Stanford was due on the 11th (even though I gave him a document with all the deadlines listed). He had supposedly planned to submit them on "Wednesday" which was the 12th, thinking none of the apps were due until the 14th... So basically, practically no profs out there ever do things before last minute and they'll almost certainly forget if you don't remind them...

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fermiboy
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby fermiboy » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:29 am

To add to quizzes advice: Don't feel bad about bothering your recommenders. It's their friggin job. Stay on them like stink on a chemistry experiment.

Another trick is tell your recommenders that the deadline is two weeks or a month earlier than it really is.

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quizivex
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby quizivex » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:35 am

Well, one reason (besides awkwardness, shyness) that people may hesitate to remind their recommenders is that if you annoy them, they might write you a poor letter. So it's gotta be done carefully.

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fermiboy
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby fermiboy » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:38 am

Maybe admissionprof can shed offer some of his/her wisdom on this, but I don't think an ethical professor would write a bad letter for someone if they didn't deserve it, even if they were annoying the prof about writing it.

I don't mean hound them every day, but you should be checking in once or twice a week, and more so as the deadline approaches.

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will
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby will » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:15 am

I get rejected from all of my schools that had online letter submissions, and so for the school I eventually got accepted to, I was worried to death because two of my three recommendation writers decided that if it wasn't online, they didn't have to do it. I finally put the hurt on them, but the letters didn't get sent until well after the application deadline. They must really like me. (That and it was my top choice, so I was in constant contact with them. I probably could've made more of an impression with the others but I didn't care.)

christopher3.14
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby christopher3.14 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:58 am

fermiboy wrote:To add to quizzes advice: Don't feel bad about bothering your recommenders. It's their friggin job. Stay on them like stink on a chemistry experiment.

Another trick is tell your recommenders that the deadline is two weeks or a month earlier than it really is.


Great advice. I actually was tooootally nervous about this, too. But then I thought, you know what, these guys went through the exact SAME process at some point.

So I would send reminder letters when it got close to the deadline, about 3 weeks. A prof even thanked me for reminding her. Think about it, would you rather be "nice" and remind them with one day left, or let them know ahead of time and save you and your recommender some grief.

To future applicants, give your recommenders TONS of time.

vroomfondel
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby vroomfondel » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:03 am

Some profs have administrators...I made very good friends with them. do this. it makes access to prof easier, and you can bug prof. via admin.

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twistor
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby twistor » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:49 am

Your girlfriend has a very good case for requesting a refund if there was no contact from the school regarding the letter (and no online system to check on its status).

The school is entirely to blame for pocketing the money.

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dlenmn
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby dlenmn » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:33 am

buddyo, that is horrible. I'd definitely let the guy know, and ask the schools for refunds. That said, yeah, I don't think that there's a lot you can do at this point. This should be a cautionary tale to be sure. All the schools I applied to a web interface to show if the letters had arrived (even the schools which required dead tree copies). It sounds like that wasn't the case for your girlfriend. Truth be told, if it the info weren't online, I might not have checked to see if my letters had arrived. At any rate, reminding the recommenders is a must. Sending a couple of email reminders, or reminding them face to face a few times can't be considered annoying. It's kind of expected.

fermiboy wrote:Stay on them like stink on a chemistry experiment.


Lol. My HS physics teacher used to say the following about labs and demos. If it stinks, it's chemistry. If it moves, it's biology. If it doesn't work... it's physics!

admissionprof
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Re: Recommender didn't send a letter?

Postby admissionprof » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:02 am

fermiboy wrote:Maybe admissionprof can shed offer some of his/her wisdom on this, but I don't think an ethical professor would write a bad letter for someone if they didn't deserve it, even if they were annoying the prof about writing it.

I don't mean hound them every day, but you should be checking in once or twice a week, and more so as the deadline approaches.


We inform everyone when a letter is missing (and can often make decisions without it, although it isn't official until the letter is received). If I were asked by a student for a letter, and could not write a good one, I would tell them. No, an ethical professor wouldn't diss a student for nagging about a letter. Alas, not all professors are ethical.




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