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  1. TL;DR: All of my three referees have asked me to provide a draft of my recommendation letter, and I'm freaking out that this might compromise the credibility of my LoRs *facepalm* Full version: I'm an international applicant for phd programs in neuroscience / biomedical sciences / biomedical engineering. Two of my referees are PIs from my university, where professors usually ask students to draft their own LoR before revising it slightly if at all and handing it in. The problem is, the third referee is a professor from a nice university in USA (where I did my summer research), and even he has asked me to draft my own LoR. I am extremely worried that if/when the admissions committee see that all three of my LoRs are basically written by myself, they would deem my LoRs untrustworthy, and my applications this year would be doomed. If anyone has some good tips on how to make my letter drafts more credible / look less like random letters written by a student, I would greatly appreciate it That said, I suspect that I'll have to look for RA positions in case I am rejected by every school I apply to this year *facepalm* Thanks in advance!
  2. Moods

    LoR Dilemma

    I need to do this first: uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Okay, I am feeling slightly better. So, I have these two wonderful LoR writers that have already written letters for my nine schools along with two fellowships. However, my third LoR writer is starting to cause me to stress out. A LOT. Just to set-up everything, I told all three of my writers about my applications in mid-September. I gave them them a packet with all the schools and fellowships I a,m applying to, their due dates, any instructions or recommendations for the LoR writers, the programs I am applying to, the websites for those programs, and a visual timeline for the due dates. The first letter was due late-October. I sent my third letter writer about three reminder emails and a reminder text before she submitted her letter a minute before it was due. That was a roller coaster, but I was happy she got it done. Next, another letter was due last night. I sent her about two reminder emails (one about two weeks ago and one a few days ago) and resent the links twice (one about a week ago and one yesterday) as well. She ended up not doing it at all. It didn't bug her as much about this one because this application only needed two LoRs, but they prefer three. I am fuming because I gave her a lot of time and reminded her multiple times. When I first asked her if she could be my letter writer back in September, she said that she was willing to do all the applications, which makes me even more frustrated. She is testing my trust and that's scary because I have nine more applications that she needs to write LoRs for. I honestly don't know how to handle this. I am not sure if I should even mention the letter she forgot to write and just move on with my life. I am not sure if I should get a different letter writer or just try to trust that she will get the other ones done. I know she has a very busy job, but I don't want to have to keep reminding her every time there is a deadline due, especially since I feel like she should be able to manage her time after being a professional for so long. Maybe I am being too harsh. I hate feeling this way about someone, but I really don't want to worry and question about something someone promised they would do. I would be immensely grateful if anyone could provide any advice on how to handle this. Thanks in advance.
  3. throw958

    Writing my own LOR

    One of my LOR writers asked me to write up the first draft of the letter, so I've been trying to do so (pretty sure the "first draft" will also be the thing he directly submits). After doing a bunch of research, most resources advised doing two things: 1) Use concrete anecdotes and examples to show the student's proficiency instead of just meaningless praise. I.e. Describe how he showed he was intelligent through a specific task he completed. 2) Directly compare the student to other students. I.e. "The student distinguished himself from his peers", "One of the brightest students I've taught", "Stood out from the rest of the research assistants etc", "Top X% in his class", etc. The first is fairly easy to do since I obviously have a ton of anecdotes about myself. However, I'm not really sure how to do the second. I obviously don't know how my LOR writer sees me relative to my peers, and it seems extremely presumptuous to hand him a draft saying that I was one of the best students he's had. How am I supposed to compare myself to his other students for him? Does anyone have any advice on this? Unfortunately, I can't get another LOR writer, this specific writer is extremely important to my application. It also seems extremely important to do the comparison, almost every resource and example I found repeatedly stressed the importance of doing this...
  4. I need another professor to write me an LOR... problem is during undergrad (graduated in 2016) I asked questions in class here and there but I did not attend office hours or go out of my way to speak to my professors after class so that they would remember me. I was under a lot of stress from working and commuting pretty far to my university at the time. How would someone go about asking professors for LOR's in a case where you did not really stand out or develop any kind of relationship besides having good grades?
  5. Sorry in advance for the long post. Also posted on reddit. I am applying to psychology PhD programs (non-clinical) for fall 2019 admission and hoping to ask some former professors and others for LORs in the next week or so. In part to help myself think through my options, I wanted to open my thought process up to you guys. Below is a list of people I'm consider asking to some extent and how I know them/have worked with them, in order of who I feel carries the most weight: PI of undergrad research lab: I worked in his lab for 4 semesters, wrote a senior honors thesis using some of his old data, he won an APA lifetime achievement award, endowed professor in the department at a top 20 university, co-authored a theory, 60 pg long CV, you get the picture. Didn't work too often with him 1:1 but he definitely really likes me, would love to accept me into the program at my alma mater (but probs not applying), advised me somewhat closely on my thesis, has said he'd write a rec, etc. Senior Honors Thesis professor: I took a year-long course to help guide me through the process of writing my senior thesis and he was the professor for the course. Lesser known in the field but very well-regarded as a professor and mentor at the university. Did many thorough readings of and provided thorough feedback on my thesis, advised on grad school admissions process, etc. Doesn't know my academic interests super well (they've changed since I wrote my thesis), but knows my writing and motivation Undergrad advisor: Director of Undergraduate Studies for Neuroscience (my undergrad major), knows me well personally, taught a lab class and another course in which we wrote weekly "popular press" science articles based on primary literature so knows my writing and academic aptitude well, we've talked frequently about my goal to pursue a PhD and the types of questions and research that motivate me to pursue a PhD. Doesn't know my research experience very well Summer research experience PI: worked two summers (2015, 2016) for him, MD not a PhD and studies Alzheimers through basic biology research (western blots, IHC, etc.), really likes me and said at the time he could help with recommendations, but haven't talked much since. I think he'd still be willing to write if I got back in touch but I wonder if those experiences seem too outdated/tangentially related now PI of lab I now volunteer for: well-regarded professor in human development/developmental psych, hasn't worked with me since I initially met with her but could maybe ask lab managers about my skills, most recent academic I've worked with. I haven't done any writing or data analysis for this lab yet, so she would just have to go off of my general data collection skills, motivation, interests, etc. Volunteering 6 hrs/wk Current boss at work: I work as a direct care staff at a residential psychiatric facility for teens, my boss would be able to speak to my work ethic mostly bc there is no academic or research aspect to my job. I took the job hoping to see whether I wanted to go into clinical and the answer is no lol but it is a neat experience. Doesn't seem like a good fit for LOR to me but she's who I work most closely with at this point so thought she'd be worth mentioning. Any help/advice in how to sort through these is much appreciated. I'm applying to programs that accept anywhere between 2-6 letters, so I would love to hear what people think as a "cut-off" if I were to submit only some of these (like do I only have 2 solid LORs and if I'm able to only do 2, I should stick to only 2? Or do I have 3-4 solid ones that I should include if I'm able?) Final question: Is it appropriate to ask a PI to collaborate with a lab manager on the letter? I worked more closely with a lab manager/project coordinator in most labs, so I think they'd best be able to speak to my abilities but wouldn't carry the weight of a PI. tl;dr: help me sort through my LORs and order them from strongest --> weakest with a cutoff of how many I should use if I could choose anywhere between 2-6. THANK YOU!
  6. I am currently in the process of applying to PhD programs in environmental science/tropical ecology and conservation. I know–more or less– what schools I will be applying to. I also know who will be writing my letters of recommendation for me... but I do not know how they need to be sent to the schools I am applying for. I've heard about Interfolio, and I'm not sure what else it out there. I graduated from UCLA and UCLA offers a LoR service for alumni, but it is much more expensive than Interfolio. I've also heard about LoR writers mailing the letters to the schools themselves? I've tried to look into how you actually submit letters to grad school, and I still feel so confused. How do you actually send the letter to the school? I know it can be school specific, but any advice on the following would be much appreciated: - HOW do you send letters of rec to the schools you are applying to? - What services for sending LoR electronically is the best? (ex. Interfolio, through your alma mater?) This may seem like such a trivial question (and I'm sure I'l look back thinking it was a silly thing to ask), but I am just plain confused on how my LoRs need to get where they are supposed to go. Thanks!!
  7. I am back with another question! This one is actually relevant to my immediate decisions rather than for applications a year+ in the future. Thanks for being SO consistently helpful, everyone. Did anyone here use a letter from a professor they did not take a class with/a professor who did not supervise them in any formal way? Was this successful? Does anyone not recommend doing so? I ask because I am about to start my 1-year MA and there is a particular faculty member I'm very interested in getting to know because his interests are strikingly similar to mine. I've read some of his work and watched some talks of his and his methodology resonates with me a great deal so far. However -- I'm registering for my fall "elective" course soon and the classes I am most excited about and would be most beneficial to me are taught by faculty members whose work I'm not particularly interested in, and the spring semester looks to be the same situation. The bigger issue, though, is that in my program, we are not able to ask a specific faculty member to serve as our dissertation supervisor; the supervisor is assigned to us by the department. It may be that this person is assigned to me based on my topic, but there are other faculty members whose expertise can be said to cover generally the areas I'm interested in as well, so it's certainly not a given. I guess I have it in my head that a LoR from this person for my PhD applications would be ideal and I'd be remiss not to facilitate that opportunity. If I just form a relationship with this person by going to office hours, would it be reasonable to ask him for a LoR? Would it be better to have 3 LoRs from people who have all worked with me in a formal capacity, observed my performance in class, read my work carefully and graded it? There are actually several courses for both semesters that are really exciting to me, but the ones I am more interested in are not taught by any of the faculty members on my "top 3-5" radar for relevant interests and interesting work. Would it be wise to choose classes I am less (but still somewhat) interested in, that I think I wouldn't get as much out of, and that I think won't look as appealing on a transcript if they are taught by those more "relevant" faculty members? Should I choose the classes I am most interested in and potentially end up with LoRs from faculty members working in different areas from me? Or could I ask faculty members who haven't really worked with me other than office hour discussion for letters? Would that be a risk?
  8. Hi all! I am about to apply for the Post bacc program in Communication Disorders at SUNY New Paltz. Anyone who applied before notice that the app doesnt require a letter of rec? Am I reading it wrong? Just want to be 100% sure. Any tips for writing a good statement of purpose? I have never written one before. Also, any other speech post bacc programs online that allow start in the Spring or late fall? I only noticed Northwestern but that one is too expensive. Thanks!
  9. One of my professors is a foreign national and it shows on the recommendation letter. I wasn't supposed to look at the letter but the school administrator sent me a copy for my reference, not sure if I should be glad I did, or not. Anyway, the letter was already sent to accompany my grad school application and I had absolutely no control over both its content and logistics, i.e. knowing this at this point is too late. Would this affect my chances at all? How do adcom view this situation?
  10. Hi everyone! I'm currently a senior at a tier-2 liberal art college with a double major in mathematics and computer science. My current postgraduation plan is working as a software engineer in a financial company, however, I would love to eventually go back to school to get my master or PhD. My only concern at the moment is my GPA (3.1 ~ 3.2), and I have not taken the GRE yet. I was wondering if anyone has experienced similar situations or expressed similar concerns? If so, please comment below and let's discuss about it.
  11. I'm mid-30s, career-changing and heading to law school in the fall with academia as the goal. I'm going to be applying to the PhD in History dual degree program wherever I land (all of the law schools I'm still considering offer programs). All are top-10 programs in both law and history, if that matters. I have solid GRE scores - happy to provide more detail, but don't want to be a douchebag - and I'm not too worried about the writing sample or SOP. LORs are another story. Since I graduated a decade ago and most of my professors were one-term-and-done relationships (huge department), I know I'll have trouble finding profs to write non-generic letters. I only got one to respond with what I believe is a strong letter for my law school apps, and one who wrote a very generic letter that I didn't end up sending (sort of relieved she let me see it first). The other professor I had a solid relationship with in undergrad ever replied to my emails. Employer letters won't be a problem, and my job involves nothing but research and writing, but it's not academic-level research and writing, either (marketing copywriting and online journalism - a few steps above BuzzFeed, but nowhere near NYT). I've just started reading up on this and will continue to do so, but I haven't found much addressing this yet so I thought I'd toss it out and see what the cafe thinks. Thanks in advance!
  12. Hello everyone, While applying to University of Southern California for a deadline of 15th December 2017, it so happened that I requested for letter of recommendations from three people. There was an entry field where we were supposed to write accepted upload date. But the request for uploading the lor was received by only 1 person. and hence I was able to upload only 1 lor.For quite some time it showed "received 1 out of 3 lors" but then in january i deleted the requests for the other two recommenders. Even though the LOrs were optional for the application , I wanted to ask whether it's gonna affect my application? I still haven't received any decision yet.
  13. All of the grad programs I'm applying for need 2 references and so far I've only gotten one. The other prof I contacted hasn't gotten back to me yet and deadlines are fast approaching. Unfortunately, the two profs I emailed are the only two who know me well enough, so there's no one else I can ask. However, there is also another course instructor I had who I think would have good things to say about me, but she's a Ph.D. student and I've heard we should only get well-known professors to write reference letters. So should I still ask the Ph.D. student to write a reference letter or just wait for my other professor to reply (or email her again)? If I decide to send the second professor another email, is there a way to do so without coming across as impatient? I understand how busy professors are so I'm worried about being a burden or putting extra pressure on them. My application deadlines are 1-2 months away (I stated specific deadlines in the email) and I have one semester left until graduation so I don't think I have enough time to get to know any new professors, unless there's a quick way to do so? I know this is my fault for not asking earlier and/or in person but there isn't much I can do about that now since the holiday started and I don't go back until January. So is there anything I can do between now and January to get the second referee? This is the only thing getting in the way of my grad application. I have everything else - good grades, sufficient research experience, CV, letter of intent - so I'm not ready to give up on applying all together. If there's absolutely nothing I can do, can I get away with one referee? P.S. I'm not sure if this matters but I'm applying to the MA public policy programs at Carleton and UofT, and MA social justice at Brock and Laurier, so if anyone is in any of these programs can give insight into the application process and what the admissions committee is looking for, especially regarding references, that would be helpful
  14. Hi guys, I'm freaking out because my last recommender, the dean of my college (who was also my academic advisor), probably will not submit my letters tonight which is the deadline for the University of North Carolina and Stanford. Luckily, for Chicago I have three recommenders already, but I suppose it will look bad if the fourth I put down on the app did not send the recommendation. I reminder her three times total and each time (including yesterday) she told me she'd do it (asked her back in late September), but I also understand she's very busy (running one of the best honors colleges in the state!) and has had family issues lately. I'm thankful she even accepted to recommend me, really. I'm worried however that those universities won't be as understanding of the circumstances. The websites specifically say all materials must be received by that date to have financial aid consideration. I am planning to send e-mails tomorrow and hope for the best. For anyone who may read this in the future, keep in mind some people are just very busy in general and may be more difficult for them to send recommendations in a timely manner. I was wondering if in anybody's experience submitting a recommendation a few days after the deadline (perhaps one day, not sure if she'll just submit tomorrow) will affect me, or am I worrying over nothing? Thanks
  15. So, I do not plan to apply the grad school next year (2018).. Instead, I am going for 2019 and I want to prepare from now! The situation is really complicating... I finished my undergrad 2-3 years ago in US ... and currently, I am serving the air force back home in Korea.. When I finish my military service, I'd be off from the academics for almost 4 years so would it be possible for me to get 3 letters of recommendation letters from the professors? I'm worried because I wasn't the best student in the classes nor have been close to the professors. I have heard that some Graduate schools (or the graduate program) don't accept the letters of recommendation from academic field if you have been off for 5 years.. Is that true? Or should I reach to the professors for the LoR? The problem is that I can only contact with them through emails as I'm in service... Please give me some advice so I won't freak out!
  16. I got my BFA 10 years ago this Spring, and have been almost entirely away from academia since then. I decided (unfortunately, sort of last-minute - the timing has never worked out until now) that I wanted to try applying to a specific MFA program this year, and because of how long I've been out of school, I'm concerned about professor recommendations. So far, I have 1 current teacher recommendation (I'm taking a class at community college in the field I'm looking to apply for), and 1 former employer (not really related to my field, but we had a long working relationship). My third recommendation was going to be from my BFA thesis advisor. She recently replied to my request email to say that while she'd be (tentatively, from the tone of the email) happy to do it, she recommends finding someone who is more familiar with my work, and with whom I have a more current relationship. (My tendency to not keep in touch with people is now biting me in the butt.) The problem is that aside from the 2 other recommendations, I don't really HAVE anyone that fits the bill. I'm not sure what to do in this case. So far, the options I can see are as follows: -Ask another former teacher with whom I had fewer classes, but have (sort of, ish? we're friends on Facebook?) kept in touch with more over the years -Ask another former supervisor at the same job as my other former employer, so I would have 2 employer recommendations from the same place -Go with this teacher and provide really thorough supplemental materials for the application -Is there something else I'm not thinking of, here? (Besides going back in time to deal with past-me's mistakes?) Advice is appreciated!
  17. I have been researching these and can't seem to find definitive answers. If anyone has some insight, it would be greatly appreciated!
  18. Hey everyone, I am missing my last letter of rec three days past the deadline and my professor is unresponsive. So, I thought I'd share my story and see if anyone had additional horror tales of getting letters from professors to help me calm down. After emailing all the professors I really admired and did well with, I received some great advice. Paraphrasing, it was something along the lines of ask people in your lab, if you've done research with them their opinion matters exponentially more. It just so happens that I worked in two labs, but I had to leave one due to a huge personal crisis that took away time needed to do quality work. Although I did not think the professor liked me as a result, I decided to go for this professor so I would have 3 letters from professors whose labs I'd been in. He agreed to do it surprisingly and I sent my cv and statement of purpose to him 3 weeks prior to deadline. It's worthy to note that this professor is a sweetheart and he did like me until I had to quit. Then, 5 days prior to the deadline, I realized that the email I used for his letter of rec address online was completely WRONG, so he never received a reminder or instructions for submission. He probably thought that i went with a professor who didn't waste time training a research associate. I changed it right away and emailed him, no response. I emailed his other email with some irrelevant content, no response. I legit tracked down his class, waited for him outside his lecture two days later, ran after him, and asked about his letter the day before the deadline was. Said he'll do it this weekend and turn it in early next week. Monday morning is here I haven't heard from him in 4 days and I don't know what steps to take next, but await my miserable fate and denial letters. The horrible part is its mostly my fault. it's really impossible to get a professor to write one last minute too, and my only hope is to get grad student friends, who have offered to write one last minute because they have been there, to help. However, I just in all honesty have no idea where i stand with the last letter, so meh.
  19. I immigrated to the US last year but before leaving, I had a one-on-one discussion of my intention to apply to graduate school with the Dean and the HoD (individually), in order to get an affirmation that they would both write me letters when needed. I have As in the courses and class projects that the Dean oversaw. On the other hand, I have Bs in the courses taught by the HoD but he acted as an informal mentor and panelled my thesis presentation, which I had an A in, so he is familiar with my competence in research. Now that I've started my application process, when I reached out to the HoD, he immediately and enthusiastically agreed. The Dean, however, was sceptical of my transition to another field instead of pursuing my undergrad field (I have a Bachelors degree in Economics and am applying for PhD in Organisational Behaviour). He advised me to apply for Economics in a list of schools he thinks are a good fit, and said that only then he would write me a letter. Which I personally think is ridiculous because my choice of program, especially one so closely related to economics, should not be a matter of concern to him. I tried to assure him that I would employ whatever I learned during undergrad and all he needed to do was vouch for my performance in research and competence the subjects he taught. I've had no response since. I would also like to add that one of the subjects he taught in is Econometrics, fundamental to research. Now the deadline is looming ever closer and it's seeming more and more likely that I'll have to give up on the idea of getting a recommendation from the Dean. Should I continue to pester the Dean, who might write me a biased letter, if at all, or should I go with the HoD's letter which will be fair but weaker due to my average performance in his classes? If I go with the HoD, how can I mask my grade to strengthen my letter (I am assisting in drafting the letter so I have some control over what to highlight)?
  20. Hi all and happy application season! I'm currently in the process of doing applications and I've stumbled upon an issue. I'm a distance student at a University that is 1500 miles away and so I've reached out through email to a professor about getting a LOR. I've done exceptionally well in her classes and we have chatted through messages a time or two about my progress in her courses. I sent my initial email about two weeks ago and heard nothing back, so I followed up this past week and have still heard nothing. Should I just drop the idea of her writing the LOR and move on, or follow up with her through another means of communication (CANVAS or BlackBoard)? Thanks for the help!
  21. Hi everyone! So I'm trying to choose the people who are going to write me recommendation letters. One is my current master's advisor, another is a professor with whom I worked as a research assistant, but I'm stuck on the third. Should I ask my first master's degree advisor who supervised my thesis research almost 10 years ago (yes, I'm currently doing a second master's degree) or a professor with whom I have taken a class just a year ago (I got A in the class, but have never worked with him in a research environment)? I have very good relationships with both. The first is from a foreign country/institution while the second is from the same country I intend to apply for a PhD in. Any insight would be appreciated. Good luck to all!
  22. So I was discussing my letter with my recommender and sent him a recommendation request from the UPenn application portal. I was a little late in telling him it was just to see what the recommendation form is like and his letter wasn't entirely ready. However, he thought he should go ahead and fill it all out and upload the letter so he did, without using the new, updated letter. Now the recommendation is submitted but I'd really like to change the letter. Is there any chance the recommender could edit/update the letter or will I have to redo the application? Please help. Thanks.
  23. Hello All! Hoping you could help me out. I have decided that I want to go back to school and pursue a Masters in Public Health. Problem is, I went to undergrad for chemical engineering and am now working in an engineering field. I had a 3.0 GPA and am relatively confident that I'll do well on the GRE (practice tests have gone well and I'm a strong test taker). However, I am concerned about LOR. I have already been out of school for 2 years now, and have another 2 years or so before I am ready financially to go back. I am planning on asking a professor that I worked with as a TA when I was an undergrad for a letter, and have been volunteering with Planned Parenthood and am considering asking the volunteer coordinator for a letter. I'm not sure what else to do though. I don't really have any strong relationships with professors, and they all taught engineering. I did really well in an unrelated class (history/women's studies) and might reach out to that professor, but at least it might show some academic progress? I don't know, I'm kind of at a loss and I don't want to leave this off until right before I'm ready to submit applications. With 2 years or so, that gives me some time to rectify this issue and I would appreciate any suggestions or comments.
  24. astroid88

    LOR issue

    Hi y'all, I have a question about how to handle a specific LOR. I know you all don't know this person and their specific habits, so I'm just looking for suggestions on possible avenues of action. I had a mentor in undergrad who helped me on my senior thesis. I was also a TA for this person. We had a good relationship. This person has written LORs for me in the past. Sadly this professor was just a visiting professor, and their contract ended this past summer. The university did not renew. This did not detour me from asking for a LOR for my apps this fall. Said professor usually takes a while to respond but eventually gets back (might be something like two weeks later). As they do not have an e-mail with the university anymore (I asked other professors who knew them for their new email. They did not know it.), I messaged them on FB them halfway through September, in order to give them time. I did this with all my professors, though only over FB with this specific professor. No response, though the first message is read on FB. I waited a month and then sent another. They did not even open it this time. We've communicated on FB in the past, and I knew through any medium it always takes a bit for them to respond. The messages I sent were generic: "Hey, how are you doing? I'm applying to some schools, etc". I gave them the option to say no, but I just asked they tell me that they can't do it, so I can get a definitive answer and ask someone else. I've always thanked them for their LORs. This LOR is probably my most important, as I was closest to them, they helped me on my senior project, and also taught me in language courses relevant to my research. I was hoping they would cover langauge abilities and research abilities in the LOR. What should I do? I've though of asking my other LORs (who are friends with this person) to message them. I've also debated sending a third, and final, message. I don't know if I contacted too early? My other professors responded, and I like to be courteous and give them a heads up. Any who, some suggestions might be helpful. Thanks
  25. I am a first-year Ph.D. looking to transfer for personal reasons. I shared my reasoning with my current advisor, who 100% supports my decision and is also writing my letter of recommendation. My question: is there merit in getting two letters from my current institution (and the third one from a previous recommender) OR would one letter from my advisor (and two letters from previous recommenders) be sufficient in offsetting any red flags for the institutions that I'm applying to? I have another professor in my current program who'd be willing to write me a strong letter, but my only concern is that this professor has not known me for as long as my previous professors who wrote my LORs last year. Thank you.

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