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Anxiety over that proverbial "final" letter


drownsoda

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So I sent out my L.O.R. requests through my applications on December 13th. By the 15th, two out of my three recommenders had submitted their letters. Still waiting on my last recommender to submit his; my deadlines start rolling on January 3rd. 

 

The catch? He's my best recommender. In fact, he was the first person I sought out for a letter, because he was my favorite professor and had the most experience with me as a student. He's perhaps my most esteemed recommender of the three; he's a Columbia & Northwestern graduate, really well-respected, notorious in my department for being a "hard grader," and he pushed me like crazy in his classes but I did extremely well and earned A's in all of them. He told me to "rest assured" that he would write me a "very strong letter" and also said he remembered my "increasingly sophisticated work in his classes," which obviously made me feel confident in him writing a letter for me, but I'm slightly freaked out because he hasn't submitted it yet. I originally emailed him about the letter in early December, and, as I said, sent out my application letter requests on the 13th. Am I unduly freaking out and letting my nerves get the best of me? When would it be appropriate to send a reminder?

 

Anyway, sorry for being annoying as I'm sure many of you are in similar (and even more dire) situations, but I just wanted to vent my anxiety on this. Even though I've still got awhile before the deadline, it's just nerve-wracking to have 2/3 letters submitted, and the last one to be what I feel will be my strongest.

 

I've just been telling myself that he's taking a bit longer than the others because he's writing me the greatest L.O.R. of all time, but I know that's ridiculous. Haha.

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You can also send nice reminder emails. You can say something along the lines like " Hi Professor, I'm sending you a friendly reminder that letters are due on blank blank (maybe send a reminder 1-2 weeks before the deadline). Thank you so much for taking the time to write me a letter."

 

Doesn't hurt to email them. I know you may feel like you're being pushy but I feel professors are busy and might forget at times.

Edited by mh1992
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Here's what I would be thinking if I were your professor. It's one of the busiest times of the year (finals, grading, and often publication deadlines in late December too), which means that the letter can wait. Writing exams, proctoring them, grading them, and calculating and submitting final grades cannot wait as there's usually a college/university-wide deadline to meet. I know that often means that things like letters, that you have an extra week on, have to get pushed back. That's probably what your professor is doing. Chill out. Remind them next week, at the earliest.

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I've got a similar situation with that one, last letter not yet submitted. But the professor has been submitting the letters that were needed on the last day.  It is god awful stressful but like others have said, I've just let it go for now, I'll remind her in another week or maybe in the new year.

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I just went through this - my strongest recommender, asked in September, said he would write a very strong letter, I've done research with this prof., currently work as a research assistant for him (i.e. see him 3+ days per week), well known in the field, etc.   I sent him a few reminders between when I sent out the prompts via applications (around Halloween) and the week of my first deadline.  He kept saying "don't worry" I'll probably be a day or 2 late submitting them but adcoms don't hold recommenders to the same deadline as applicants and it won't affect your chances.  Fast forward to deadline day, no LOR uploaded - sent reminder email, rinse and repeat.  End result: he was 2+ weeks late submitting most of my letters (6/8 of my deadlines were 12/1 or before).  I know people that got called for interviews before my recommender even uploaded his letter.  Even though people will tell you not to worry about it I would stay on top of this, especially because it's a week of holidays and then new years.  

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I re-sent the reminder emails through my applications to him and am crossing my fingers that maybe he'll send them out before the holidays this week, or shortly after. I am dropping by the campus on the 23rd to leave thank you notes for my professors who are writing for me (I bought some Moleskine notebooks and tied the thank you notes to them with ribbon) and will leave it in his mailbox— I don't believe he'll be on campus, but I'll check before I leave. I know that he's likely busy because he traveled often to do presentations and seminars when I took courses with him. I'm just hoping with everything that he gets them in on time.

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More than you'd think, Catria. I actually got an acceptance with only 2 letters in. They admitted me to the department and told me they needed the third letter ASAP because they wanted to nominate me for a university-wide fellowship, which required 3 letters with the application. I got the third letter in (it honestly probably got lost the first time it was sent) probably a month after the official deadline.

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Because I'm kind of worried about Vanderbilt but the missing letter, in my case, is the coursework-based one, so I think it's the weakest of the gang, even though it's written by someone famous in mathematical physics...

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