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Replacing a recommender


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Hi, guys. Long time lurker, first time poster here. I'm in a bit of a pickle with one of my recommenders. When I originally e-mailed her in late September, she said she would be happy to write my letter. I've sent her three e-mails since then that included updates on my application season and my CV/SOP/coursework that I did with her. In the last two e-mails I've requested that she confirm that she's received everything and that she's still willing to write one of my letters. I haven't received a response in the past couple of weeks and it's got me a little worried.

Maybe I'm reading too much into her lack of responses so far, but in the event that I need to replace her, what is the best way of going about this? I have another professor in mind already, but it wouldn't be much more than a "this student got an A in my class" kind of letter, assuming she even agrees to write it. My first deadline is mid-December with the others scattered throughout December, January and early February. Should I try to completely hide the fact that she's a replacement for the other recommender and risk her thinking that I'm just NOW asking for a letter, or is it OK to hint at the fact that things didn't work out with someone else and I'm coming to her as a backup? I'm worried that she could get offended either way I phrase my e-mail to her. The fact that Thanksgiving and the end of the semester are fast approaching doesn't exactly help, either. I'm in a foreign country right now, so a visit during office hours isn't an option, although I could call via Skype.

Does anyone have any experience with having to scramble (somewhat) last-minute to replace a recommender? Any feedback is welcome, although I hope it doesn't come to this!

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I think you're reading too much into the lack of responses so far.

And I'd definitely try to call her, or get in touch with someone else who's in the department to check in.

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I think you are reading too much into the silence. Try to call during her office hours.But just in case: if you have a school which accepts 4 letters then it is easy to ask a 4th person about the possibility of writing you letters. Maybe it will add to that one file in that one school maybe you have to ask him/her to send the recommendation letter to more schools. Once a professor wrote you a letter they will be ok with sending it to other schools as well if you need it.

Edited by kaykaykay
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Thanks to both of you for the reassurance. I think the worst thing about this entire process is that there are some things that are completely out of your control and you have to depend on other people for.

I'll try getting in touch with her by phone and hopefully clear things up. Good luck during this application season everyone!

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