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Will grumpy professors write 20 LORs for you?

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I am applying for PhD in top programs (Computer science). It seems like I should apply to at least 15 to get in. I can't afford to not get in this fall.


Planning to apply to 15-20 universities.



I know 2 grumpy professors from my grad school. They are your typical super-busy professor kind. They will write 5-6 LORs for me, but I doubt if they will write 20 LORs if it requires them to write paragraphs praising me.


I have heard that universities send them a link that they can follow to 'select an option' or 'tick mark' choices. That is fine. But do these links involve writing paragraphs describing me??


Please let me know since I feel that will greatly impact these professors giving me so many LORs.



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I feel that asking for 20 LORs is very inappropriate. I would ask for a max of 10. if your interests are so narrow that you are able to fit well at 20 schools then I would consider getting some more research experience before applying.

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I feel like this is something you should talk to your professors about. I agree with bsharpe that usually, applying to 20 schools is too many and you would be asking a lot of these professors! I think applying to 20 schools might be okay in the case where you sit down with your professors to discuss the schools and they are the ones that suggest that you apply to all these schools in the first place! 


I have not heard of many LORs that only ask for "select an option" / "tick mark" choices. Usually what happens is that the professors get an email with a special link that directs them to your LOR page. Then, they might get asked some rating/option/tick mark questions. However, pretty much every LOR request will also ask them to write a few paragraphs, i.e. a letter, to describe you.


Luckily, this is not that much more work for a professor. Usually, they will write one LOR and then copy and paste it over and over again so writing 10 LORs might only be a little bit more work than 5 LORs. My professors said that they expect a LOR would take them about 1 hour to write the template and then 5-10 minutes for each additional school to navigate through each school's page, copy/paste, change school names etc. 


So, ~10 letters is asking for 2.0-2.5 hours of a professor's time, which is a reasonable request if you have done your own due diligence in figuring out which programs are the right fit for you. 

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Not only is this an excessive burden on your letter writer (even if they just copy/paste a generic letter each time) think of the cost! Don't waste $1,500-2,000 on redundant applications. You want quality over quantity; you want to show how you're interested in specific programs rather than just desperate to get in somewhere/anywhere. 

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I feel like maybe six or seven schools are doable for professors but 20 is asking for too many. My friend was applying for Economics and applied to 15 schools. She rotated the people she asked for rec letters. I believe she asked 4 people and needed 3 for each application. Remember, you're probably not the only one asking for rec letters. Also, these people have other duties like, you know, teaching.

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