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Should I Inform My Former Professors/LoR Providers?

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Hi, all!


This is my first time posting, but I've found the Grad Cafe superbly helpful throughout my college career, so I have high hopes.  ^_^


A little personal background before my dilemma: I have a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History from one institution and a Master of Arts in English from another. I am currently living near the former. I recently applied to a few PhD in English programs but was not accepted into any (I didn't expect to be, though, as I realize it'll take some padding of my resume before I get in).


More recently, I scored an interview at the end of this week with my undergraduate alma mater for a student affairs coordinator position, which is great for two reasons: 1) Finally getting my foot in the door of university employment to hopefully be on my way to getting some adjunct instructor positions; and 2) the university offers 6 credits' worth of free courses each semester.


My dilemma essentially revolves around #2. While padding my resume with teaching and work experience as well as a couple publications in preparation for further PhD applications, I figure I might as well take advantage of the two free courses employees of my alma mater get each semester since—like most here, I'm sure—I love to learn, and I figure I can even expand over time what I'm qualified to teach.


While I don't have the job yet, I have some hints that it's likely (pending a series of successful interviews with several individuals), and if I want to take advantage of the two free courses, I need to apply now for the fall. I'm looking at a graduate program in International Affairs, for which I believe I'm a shoo-in based on its stated admissions requirements (it's also a brand-new program, I found out, so I wonder if there won't be as many applications for it as for other, more established programs?).


I need only two letters of recommendation, and here's where my problem comes in: I plan to ask two professors at the institution with which I have a job interview to provide my letters of recommendation. These two professors provided PhD letters of recommendation earlier this year, and I am unsure of whether or not I should inform them of my job interview when I request that they provide letters of recommendation again, considering my attending the International Affairs program is contingent entirely on getting the job. If I don't get the job (and consequently the free 6 credits each semester), I won't be attending any program, as I don't want to incur any more debt or tuition costs in general. I'm leaning toward not telling my professors, but if they provide letters of recommendation and I get into the program but don't get the job and so don't attend, I don't want them to be hesitant to provide future letters of recommendation for PhD programs in the next several years (I have a good relationship with each, and they are more familiar with my academic work than pretty much all of my other former professors).


I apologize for the length of this post, but I figured a better background explanation would help in giving me some advice. Do I not tell my professors and just hope I get the job, or do I tell my professors that my attending the program is contingent on getting the job? Do professors care if they provide letters of recommendation and their students don't attend any program? Most professors I've gotten letters of recommendation from have always asked for updates on how things go, so I assume they care to an extent. I just have no idea in this situation, though like I said, I'm leaning toward not informing them. Suggestions?  :huh:


Thanks so much!

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Here's an idea. Instead of enrolling right away in a brand-new graduate program, use your 6 credits of tuition (IF you get the job) to take courses that you can later count to the degree. That way, you'd get to know the faculty in that program and could potentially get your recommendation letters from them, rather than from your English professors.

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Thanks, rising_star. As you suggested, I've considered taking graduate courses as a non-matriculated student; according to the website of the university, this seems to be a matter of contacting program directors, and I would have post-baccalaureate status specifically. I don't know why I didn't think earlier that this was the best course of action. Are there any other steps you recommend, or is allowing students with appropriate credentials to take courses at the graduate level as non-degree-seeking students pretty standard and straightforward? I guess I should just contact the appropriate graduate program director(s) now?

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  • 1 month later...

I think rising_star's suggestion is good. If, however, you decided to go the route you indicated in your original post, I don't think telling them would be a bad idea at all. They will understand your hesitancy to take courses unless you can take them for free. 

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