kierkegoth

Late LOR's: How late is TOO late

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My professor assured me that most grad programs expect letters to trickle in past the deadline. This reassurance was coupled with the information that he was too swamped to reply to my emails and would submit my LOR this past weekend or early this week. Now, our relationship is strained at this point, and I am trying to respect his position, so I don't want to push even harder. However, it would really help my insomnia if I knew they wouldn't throw out my application, and the money I squeezed for them, out because the letter is arriving way past the deadline (3 days now). Does anyone have any experience they can share that relates to late letters and the admissions process? 

Edited by kierkegoth

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I also have a LOR-writer who is putting me through the same anxiety by procrastinating on submitting their letter. I second the OP's call for anyone who knows what kinds of deadlines apply to LOR-writers vis a vis the deadlines that apply to the student applicants?

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Too late is when it arrives too late to be considered. So 3 days is probably fine. Many committees will not meet until January so you might have lots of time still.

If a school has a ton of applications, they might do some work in December to collate/sort the files and prepare packages for the committee to review first. If a school doesn't then all materials might go directly to the committee. As long as your materials get to the profs before they start making decisions, it will be fine. 

Some schools may throw out incomplete applications, but I don't think many schools will reject an applicant for an incomplete item out of their control (i.e. if it's missing a SOP then that might be rejected but not if it's missing a LOR). 

That said, what you should do now is to contact the schools waiting for this letter and let them know that your prof has told you he will be a little bit late in submitting the letter. Make sure you contact both the graduate school / university-level people as well as the specific department you are applying to. Don't make excuses for your prof or complain about it or anything. Just state what has happened so that they know to expect the letter a little late.

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Some schools also have information on their department websites about this topic. It may be hidden, and not somewhere nice and convenient like the FAQ. I know in one of my fields it is common to allow LOR up to two weeks after the application deadline, but in my other field the deadlines are the same. If you are super stressing, maybe scour their website to see if you can suss anything out. Especially if it's a larger university and has one of those online manuals.

As far as the situation you're in right now. It can be super nerve wracking to be waiting, having done your part, and wanting it all to be set and finalized. It may help to recognize that it makes sense that you're nervous over this, but that once you contact the school(s) you have done everything right. Your professor may know your field better than you do and already understand when their actual deadline is. Even if that's not the case, by emailing the schools you will be taking control of the situation. They will let you know if there is going to be an issue, and from my experience most schools fully understand that professors are incredibly busy this time of the year and tend to drag LOR's out a bit. Most schools seem to plan for that. Even if by some chance your professor has misjudged, it is likely that by contacting the departments they will be willing to work things out with you, and then you can go to your professor with the actual deadlines.

It's hard in times like these to remember that our stresses are valid but also that there's usually no reason to panic. I hope you can get the information you need quickly so you won't have to worry about this.

Good luck!

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I'm kind of worried too. One of my letter writers have procrastinated until now to send them in, and one of my schools is not allowing him to submit it. It could be because the department doesn't accept late submissions, since their website clearly stated to have the letters in before Dec. 1. I need to call tomorrow and ask.

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I am in the same situation. 

One of my letter providers, actually my advisor, just have not submitted any letter to the programs. What's worse, he didn't reply any email I sent to him since last Thursday. I have a weekly meeting with him today and I will try to find out what happened to him.

Latest update: when I am finishing this reply, he replies the email I sent to him half an hour ago to make sure the exact time of today's meeting. But nothing else.

Edited by realllllJulia

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I am quite a pickle too!

One of my recommenders submitted to all 5 schools on 30th Nov and now I'm waiting on the other 2. One has explicitly stated that he's on holiday, so I'm probably going to email him tomorrow to ask when he's back (he told me this on 27th Nov). The other one hasn't replied to me since 23rd Nov! I know it was Thanksgiving weekend, but I also emailed him on the 1st and the 4th of Dec, so I'm really not sure what is happening. 2 of my deadlines were 1 Dec, one was Dec 6 and the other 2 are this weekend, so I'm hoping he can make a miracle by this weekend! I have 4 more schools that I'm applying to in Jan and I need his letters there too, so I really don't want to piss him off right now by badgering too much...is it okay to email him again today (3 days after the prev one)?

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Today I learned that there is a “too late”, depending on the Program. I’m applying to USC and Utah State (I’m applying to 8 altogether). One of my professors tried to submit his letters late last night to all of my schools. He attempted to submit his letter to USC’s Clinical Science Program and apparently it notified him that their leeway period ended Dec. 5th (due date Dec 1st). For Utah State, that same professor’s link to submit his letter has been popping up as an “error page”. I’m starting to think that the traditional ‘it’s-fine-if-the-professor-turns-it-in-2-weeks-late’ idea is going out the window. Someone needs to spread the word to all of professors ASAP b/c it costs us, not them :/ If I hadn’t asked for 4 LORs, instead of 3, I would’ve been pissed right now.

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33 minutes ago, LolJustAdmitMe said:

Today I learned that there is a “too late”, depending on the Program. I’m applying to USC and Utah State (I’m applying to 8 altogether). One of my professors tried to submit his letters late last night to all of my schools. He attempted to submit his letter to USC’s Clinical Science Program and apparently it notified him that their leeway period ended Dec. 5th (due date Dec 1st). For Utah State, that same professor’s link to submit his letter has been popping up as an “error page”. I’m starting to think that the traditional ‘it’s-fine-if-the-professor-turns-it-in-2-weeks-late’ idea is going out the window. Someone needs to spread the word to all of professors ASAP b/c it costs us, not them :/ If I hadn’t asked for 4 LORs, instead of 3, I would’ve been pissed right now.

One of my recommenders also had a problem with USC (History). He told me nothing happens when he clicks on my name. I called the department and was told that professors should have until the end of the month to submit letters and the person I spoke to referred me to talk to tech support. I suggest you also give USC a call.

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I think most schools understand that the LORs may be late, and received after the deadline, especially those that don't send the prompt to the letter writer until after the applicant has clicked on the final submit and paid the fees.

i can tell you that my daughter was accepted and conditionally admitted long before her final LOR was received. She was invited to apply to the program she is in about 2 weeks before classes started, and managed to get 2 LORs in right away, but the final one was delayed for various reasons. She ended up getting a phone call 2 days before classes began, and was told that she should start taking classes right away, and that she would be officially admitted once the third letter arrived, which didn't happen until the middle of the semester.

 

 

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5 hours ago, LolJustAdmitMe said:

Today I learned that there is a “too late”, depending on the Program. I’m applying to USC and Utah State (I’m applying to 8 altogether). One of my professors tried to submit his letters late last night to all of my schools. He attempted to submit his letter to USC’s Clinical Science Program and apparently it notified him that their leeway period ended Dec. 5th (due date Dec 1st). For Utah State, that same professor’s link to submit his letter has been popping up as an “error page”. I’m starting to think that the traditional ‘it’s-fine-if-the-professor-turns-it-in-2-weeks-late’ idea is going out the window. Someone needs to spread the word to all of professors ASAP b/c it costs us, not them :/ If I hadn’t asked for 4 LORs, instead of 3, I would’ve been pissed right now.

It might be "too late" for the online software system, which may have been programmed to lock out letters after a certain date. But as others advised, it's not actually too late until you try to contact the department to directly send a LOR (or for them to open it up again) and they say no. This is a very very important rule in academia: if you ask need something and ask nicely, people are often able to make it work. Don't be a person that constantly has to ask for exceptions but for major things (e.g. applications, especially when it's a LOR extension), never give up!

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On 07/12/2017 at 1:58 AM, VelocityDown said:

I am quite a pickle too!

One of my recommenders submitted to all 5 schools on 30th Nov and now I'm waiting on the other 2. One has explicitly stated that he's on holiday, so I'm probably going to email him tomorrow to ask when he's back (he told me this on 27th Nov). The other one hasn't replied to me since 23rd Nov! I know it was Thanksgiving weekend, but I also emailed him on the 1st and the 4th of Dec, so I'm really not sure what is happening. 2 of my deadlines were 1 Dec, one was Dec 6 and the other 2 are this weekend, so I'm hoping he can make a miracle by this weekend! I have 4 more schools that I'm applying to in Jan and I need his letters there too, so I really don't want to piss him off right now by badgering too much...is it okay to email him again today (3 days after the prev one)?

Ah well, the prof who had missed all my emails apologised and sent in all thr LORs today...the other one who was going to be away scolded me really badly and I don't know if he will submit anything or not.

Guess that's a stall for another year then. And a rush to find another recommender in the future...

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4 hours ago, TakeruK said:

It might be "too late" for the online software system, which may have been programmed to lock out letters after a certain date. But as others advised, it's not actually too late until you try to contact the department to directly send a LOR (or for them to open it up again) and they say no. This is a very very important rule in academia: if you ask need something and ask nicely, people are often able to make it work. Don't be a person that constantly has to ask for exceptions but for major things (e.g. applications, especially when it's a LOR extension), never give up!

I appreciate the inspiration and push! This worked with Utah State today, as my professor was able to directly contact them and apologize. But for USC I’m an unlucky case (not really bc my app is still considered complete) b/c my professor did email the department and they stated, again, that the leeway period ended on the 5th...meaning they were refusing my LOR :/ I emailed them separately and I was told if it wasn’t received by (the 6th)Wednesday then I was out of luck. I’m sure because their Clinical program gets so many applications that they really could care less about someone’s app being complete lol(that’s just what I figure) and plus according to the past results page, they send interview invites before Dec. 15th so that also may factor into the short leeway period. But it is worth noting the other 6 programs accepted the late LORs without question! It really does seem to be based on the program and possibly their deadlines within the decision process.

Edited by LolJustAdmitMe

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Sorry to hear about USC :( Indeed, the only real "too late" is too late to be considered and I guess they really did have an earlier deadline. Best of luck on the rest!

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As of today, I can also corroborate that programs do flex on LOR submission dates, but ultimately there is a "too late" for LOR-submission for any program. Of my 3 recommenders, one has been rather flakey. She hadn't returned any of my emails since November 7th. She had initially been very enthusiastic about writing me an LOR and she is highly qualified so I had been really excited about having her as a recommender. Then she dropped off the face of the Earth after Nov. 7th. 

I submitted my first two graduate applications last Friday--Princeton history program (due date Friday Dec. 1) and University of North Carolina history program (due date Tuesday Dec. 5) and this particular recommender missed both deadlines. She FINALLY emailed me back last night and said she's just been really busy and would get caught up on my LORs by this Saturday (December 9th).

I emailed the Graduate Program Coordinator at Princeton to let them know that my 3rd recommender would be sending her letter in on Saturday. The Princeton GPC replied:

"Departments start reading right after the deadline so we strongly encourage applicants to make sure all materials are in as close to the deadline as possible. We do not have a separate deadline for recommenders so we suggest your recommenders submit their recommendations as soon as possible. The department may mark your application as incomplete until the letter arrives and is matched to your application. Since the letter is arriving this weekend your application should be ok."

TRANSLATION: We guess we'll accept the LOR by next Saturday, but that's pushing it.

Edited by TheHessianHistorian

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On 12/6/2017 at 10:51 AM, realllllJulia said:

I am in the same situation. 

One of my letter providers, actually my advisor, just have not submitted any letter to the programs. What's worse, he didn't reply any email I sent to him since last Thursday. I have a weekly meeting with him today and I will try to find out what happened to him.

Latest update: when I am finishing this reply, he replies the email I sent to him half an hour ago to make sure the exact time of today's meeting. But nothing else.

Well, till now, I have all of my letters in. Though I still have not got any reply from the departments how late is "too late".

I met my advisor on Wednesday. For some reason, he believed "Generally the deadline for application is 15th", though I sent him the list of programs as well as their deadlines weeks ago. Another fact is the deadline for our department is also Dec 1. I do appreciate that he finally submitted all the letters Thursday late night.

What I learned:

  1. Berkeley (programs using SOPHAS) will allow 7 to 10 days after Dec 1 to complete the application. This 'complete' includes the letters and transcripts.
  2. SOPHAS required exactly the same email address: the one you provided and the one the professor registered. Otherwise, professors won't be matched to your request in the system, though they can receive an email.
  3. A 10-min talk works way better than 10 emails.

Good luck everybody!

 

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My third recommender finally turned in the letters for all of the schools tonight. Two of them were past the deadline (one was 7 days overdue, one was 4 days overdue). All of them (late or not) seem to have been accepted successfully by the application systems. I think I'm okay. Phew!

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