How do you ask for many reference letters

Mataka
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How do you ask for many reference letters

Postby Mataka » Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:43 pm

Hi,

I have already asked for reference letters to some profs (to get internships or scholarships), and it is always painful for me to ask, and I also get the feeling that it is painful for them to this unexpected additional work.

But now, with the PhD applications, I will ask about 12 reference letters to 3 profs... so I'm a bit scared that they say no, or that they say yes but feel a bit upset because it's too much work. So my question is, how do you ask for reference letters, in a way that they can't say no ?

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noojens
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Re: How do you ask for many reference letters

Postby noojens » Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:56 pm

Look, if you're asking these professors for recommendations, that means they know and respect you (at least it should!). It's every professor's job, and any good professor's pleasure, to mentor next generation of scientists. So don't be nervous, just ask! Do it in person, and do it politely. Providing a CV, a copy of your unofficial transcript, and a copy of your statement of purpose or a summary of your research interests and future plans will make it much easier for your writers to compose a letter.

Good luck! :)

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quizivex
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Re: How do you ask for many reference letters

Postby quizivex » Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:35 pm

Mataka wrote:But now, with the PhD applications, I will ask about 12 reference letters to 3 profs... so I'm a bit scared that they say no, or that they say yes but feel a bit upset because it's too much work. So my question is, how do you ask for reference letters, in a way that they can't say no ?
Profs write letters every year. It's part of being a prof. They'll only think of it unfavorably as "extra work" if they don't like the student, in which case hopefully they'll just turn you down rather than write a poor letter, or if you ask them last minute and they're really bogged down at the time, which won't be a factor if you ask them early.

If you're concerned they'll frown upon having to submit 12 copies, don't worry about that part... Once a prof has agreed to write a (hopefully thoughtful and individualized ) letter, it makes little difference how many copies he has to submit. It amounts to as little as changing the name of the school on the page, or adding/changing a sentence or two. So 12 schools is not much more work than 6. He may ask you why you're applying to so many schools, since 12 is more than average, but that does not mean it bothers him. Just be honest and tell him why.

As for how to ask, that's always tough for some people... almost as bad as proposing to a girl, lol. Often, as was the case with me, a few profs were impressed with me and told me to ask them if I ever needed a letter. If that's the case they're obviously not going to hesitate or say no, and chances are they'll write a good one. Also, if you've worked/researched, then whatever prof you've done substantial work with is naturally supposed to write you a letter, and unless you hate each other, he'll be expecting you to ask him. Further, if a prof has taught you several classes and you've done well in them, then he'll have a favorable impression of you... and you can tell him he'd be the best person to vouch for your academic ability since he's taught you the most etc... So at least some of your recs shouldn't be painful to ask for. Good luck.

Mataka
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Re: How do you ask for many reference letters

Postby Mataka » Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:42 am

Well I guess you're right, but the problem is only with one of my prof. I worked for him for 4 months, and he was pretty happy with my work, but we never really talked much, it was always a bit awkward... He wrote me several reference letters a while ago, and they were really good, but know I haven't seen or talk to him in more than 3 years so I kind of feel bad to go ask him for reference letters again ...especially since I will have to ask him be email (or take a 4 hours air trip).

nathan12343
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Re: How do you ask for many reference letters

Postby nathan12343 » Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:04 pm

Mataka wrote:Well I guess you're right, but the problem is only with one of my prof. I worked for him for 4 months, and he was pretty happy with my work, but we never really talked much, it was always a bit awkward... He wrote me several reference letters a while ago, and they were really good, but know I haven't seen or talk to him in more than 3 years so I kind of feel bad to go ask him for reference letters again ...especially since I will have to ask him be email (or take a 4 hours air trip).


3 years is quite a bit of time. It may be difficult for this prof to dredge up details of your experience with him. Are there any other professors who have worked with you more recently?

Mataka
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Re: How do you ask for many reference letters

Postby Mataka » Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:24 pm

Well not really, I have been working with only one professor for quite some time now.

But hopefully that professor still has the reference letter he wrote me tree years ago, if not I still have it so I could send him back ... would you do that ?

irockhard
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Re: How do you ask for many reference letters

Postby irockhard » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:43 pm

when would be a good time to ask profs for letters? Now? At the end of the summer? At the beginning of fall semester? A month before deadline?

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grae313
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Re: How do you ask for many reference letters

Postby grae313 » Sat Jul 11, 2009 11:33 am

Now is fine. As soon as you know that you will ask someone to write a letter for you, let them know. "I'm going to be applying for graduate school this winter and was wondering if you would write me a letter of recommendation" or something to the same, then when they say "Of course! I'd be delighted!" you should ask them when they would like to receive the papers they will need. Online ones are easy, it will just send them a link and they can deal with it at their leisure. Paper ones often have a form they need to fill out and attach as a coversheet to their letter and they'll usually want that at least a month or maybe more before it's due.

pqortic
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Re: How do you ask for many reference letters

Postby pqortic » Sun Jul 12, 2009 3:45 pm

In the summer is best time to ask for letter. they have more free time and accept requests easier though it is for next months. in the beginning of fall or during the term you may have less chance to find a professor to put time on writing a good letter for you.




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