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Need help. Quick questions about letter falling through.


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Hey everyone. So I'm experiencing the age old "third recommender falling through" dilemma right now, and I'm about to just give up ask another professor as a replacement reference. I have three questions:


1.  I don't know how long it usually takes to write a letter, so will my replacement referee feel like this is a little last minute? The deadline's in two weeks, so I'm wondering if he will get annoyed by the time constraint.


2. Should I mention in my meeting with him that he's a replacement recommender? I feel like explaining myself would help clarify why I'm asking him so close to the deadline, but I'm worried he'd get offended at the fact that he's a backup. 


3. Should I wait to see if my current third recommender finally responds to my e-mails? It's possible that he's just busy. The deadline is getting close though, so I don't know if waiting any longer would be a good idea.


Thanks in advance.  

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Two weeks is still plenty of time; some of my recommenders submitted their letter at the last hour before the deadline. Some recommenders only submit after the deadline and it still almost always works out. The worrisome fact is that your LOR writer is not responding to your emails -- is there a chance you can corner him someplace on campus and ask for an update? As for a replacement, two weeks is enough time but you should ask sooner rather than later. I think most professors submit letters in one batch some time close to the deadline but you can't know what else this professor has going on and you want to give him as much time as possible. Personally I would tell the recommender that he's a backup; you and he probably both know that he can write you a decent but not glowing letter or you would have asked him in the first place, so I don't think he will be offended to find out that you had other better options. I think it's better to be honest about the situation than come across as a flaky student who only asks for a letter at the last moment -- unless you sense a very fragile ego, in which case I might reevaluate my steps and tread carefully.

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The worrisome fact is that your LOR writer is not responding to your emails -- is there a chance you can corner him someplace on campus and ask for an update? 


Ok thanks so much for the advice and quick response. As for your question, I've sent him a few e-mails and stopped by his office, but it doesn't seem like he's ever there. I don't want to start stalking his building waiting to see him walking in (although that's always on the table). I'll probably just set up a meeting with the replacement referee and explain my situation. He might even be willing to just have the letter ready while I wait to see if I hear back from the other one. Either letter would be good, but the current recommender's letter is pretty important since I let my nerves get the best of me during the GRE (verbal: 90th and quant...40th). He's a nuclear science prof, and he would probably be willing to mitigate any concerns they might have about that quant score. It's really the only weakness on my app as of now though...if only he'd get back to me. Anyway, thanks again for the advice. 

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