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Thank you and Notice of Rejection Letters to recommenders? Need advice


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I was rejected to the handful of schools I applied to for graduate school.  2/3 of my letter writers asked that I let them know how it goes. I had already thanked them before for writing my letter but now it's September and I want to write them another letter to thank them again, but notify them I wasn't accepted.  I would like to phrase it in a way that I still appreciate their letter and also keep my doors open in case I need to ask again in the future.  I have searched online for some examples of a letter like this but I have not found anything and wanted to ask others if you have done this before - what did you write?  What did you say in it?  Did you use any example letters to start from? 

Any advice would be welcome!  Thank you in advance =)

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Maybe something along the lines of:

"Hi Professor _____,


I am just writing to thank you again for writing a letter of recommendation. I really appreciate the time you put into it, and while I unfortunately was not admitted to XYZ University, I am sure that your support strengthened my application. For now I will focus on gaining experience in X field by doing Y, and perhaps in a year/X amount of time I will be a more competitive candidate.


Again, thank you.





Not perfect, but just something to break the news while shielding them from blame, and showing that you are dedicated to your education/self-improvement such that it leaves the door open for possible future recommendation requests.

Edited by wuglife427
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I like wuglife's recommendations!


I just wanted to say: good for you for committing to reaching out to these letter-writers, even though it's not to communicate the desired result! In my experience, letter-writers actually genuinely MEAN it when they say that they want to know the outcome, and I think it shows a strong character that you're touching base to let them know - they'll remember that!


Good luck in your future pursuits!

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I was in a similar situation in the spring when I didn't get a fellowship I had applied for. I handled it like others on here suggested and sent an email thanking them for letter and included some positive outcomes if the application. For example, writing the research proposal and having my PI edit it was a great excercise in learning how I could explain my research interests better. I think that sending a follow up email is a great idea and leaves the door open for asking for additional letters in the future.

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Thank you guys for the advice and help.  I really genuinely did appreciate what they did for me - especially because I really was not close to any of them or anything. I know there are lot of posts saying it's a professor's job and they understand or whatever but to me - they could've said no and the fact is that they didn't.  I was pretty nervous when finding out I wasn't accepted - it's quite embarrassing and stressful.  But in a way telling them was also like lifting a small weight off my chest and they all replied back saying they will be happy to help again in the future and wished me good luck for now.  

In case someone else finds this thread - this is the letter I used:




Dear Professor/Dr. X,

I am writing to update you with the result of my graduate applications (you submitted a letter of recommendation for me on __date__).  Unfortunately I was not admitted to the program but I will continue to do X, and Y and plan to be a much stronger candidate when I apply in the future.  I wanted to thank you again and express my appreciation for helping me complete my application with your letter of recommendation and hope to keep in touch. 



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