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Asking Recommenders to write and then wait?


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So, I recently got two people to agree to write me recommendations (a former professor and a former professor and employer) and they've asked where and when to send the letters. While I know some of the schools I want to send them to, there are still some I'm not sure about. I also want to wait and apply for the fall after this coming fall because I need to save money and I'm volunteering in a lab right now that I am hoping to eventually get a third recommendation from, but I need to be there a little longer before I'm comfortable doing that. My question is, what do I tell my current recommenders? I asked them now so that I would still be somewhat fresh in their minds, but I don't need the letters just yet. Do I ask them to write them and then hang out until I'm ready for them? Do I have them send the letters now and hope the schools don't lose them before I'm ready to send in the rest of my material? Some of the schools have forms that the recommenders are supposed to fill out along with sending the actual letter. What do I do about those ones?

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I would not recommend having the letters sent now. In fact, I'm not sure this is even possible. The school I applied to did not let you start an application until Spetember (if I remember correctly), and everything had to be submitted through the online account. Let the profs know how much you appreciate their willingness to write letters for you, and tell them that you will contact them with an update regarding what you've been doing and the details of where and when to send letters later this year.

Edited by emmm
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You have asked them early for a reference letter and that is a good thing - now you won't have to start scrambling later when you need one. But definitely don't ask them to send them now or to write them now. Logistically, the likelihood of them being able to send them anywhere now is very low and it's way too early in the process anyway.

Since your applications will likely start opening up in September-November (depending on where you are applying) you can send a follow-up email in August to confirm their availability and willingness to act on your behalf. Most professors have a lot of references to write and can get swamped when they're due, so confirming that they will still be teaching, that they're still willing, that they haven't decided to go on sabbatical, etc, is a good idea. It also gives you an opportunity to touch base with them in a friendly way and to update them on what you worked on during the summer, how your research interests have changed, ask them what they're up to, what they're researching, etc.

Once they've confirmed their willingness and you know when your applications are even open for submission, you can send your references a copy of your CV and recent work to remind them of what you submitted to their classes, and you can feel confident that at very least they will not have forgotten you or your work because you will have maintained contact with them.

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