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Asking for LOR last minute


annie4148
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Does anyone have an experience with asking for a LOR last minute? Because of unforeseen circumstances, I have to ask another professor for a LOR but first of my apps are due on Dec. 16, which is less than a month away. How should I go about asking...? 

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While not ideal, the situation you're describing is not quite "the last minute." I've submitted application materials less than 10 days before the deadline; I was admonished by one of my professors, but the other said nothing, and my internship supervisor was very understanding. Obviously, I have no idea if it affected their LORs, but unless you have a history of tardiness at worst they will include a brief line mentioning the issue. There's nothing you can do about that now. 

If you have your materials written and ready to submit, then I would recommend you state in your email (or better yet, in person) that, if the professor is willing to write you a LOR, you are prepared to send him or her your portfolio including resume/SOP/additional materials the next day. This will give your professor 3 weeks to write the first recommendation, which (at least in my field) is standard for most LOR requests. It would also be helpful to attach a separate list of the top reasons why you want to go to that school and/or why you believe you are a good fit. This will make the task a little less daunting. Be very clear on how many schools you are applying to, their deadlines, and the specific graduate programs. Finally, make sure you come across as apologetic yet not overly self-critical. Acknowledge the short timeline, explain that was because of personal reasons (whether s/he believes you is out of your control), and move on to the actual request. 

Edited by StyLeD
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Well 99% of professors (or at least it seems) wait until the absolute last second to write/submit letters, so I would not worry too much about it. This is a busy time of year, and while it isn't ideal to ask for an LOR 3 wks in advance, it's really not so bad. My mom is a professor and she gets requests all the time to write letters less than a week in advance. Just be very courteous and make sure to give them an out in case they really can't do it. 

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Agreed with the others - this isn't really that last minute, so I think you should be fine. And per Joan, most of my professors submitted my letters right before the deadlines. One even submitted about a week after the deadline, and, while it made me nervous, it didn't seem to effect my admissions. 

I'd ask just like you asked for your other letters. Going in person is always nice if possible, but if not (and in the interest of doing it asap) I'd write a concise, courteous, and gracious email stating the programs you're applying for and asking whether they are able to write you a letter, and offering to send any additional materials they may need like your SOP, CV, transcripts, etc. Do it before the holiday break if possible, as people may not be checking mail this weekend. 

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