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Hey, I'm trying to get my letters of recommendation all wrangled up for my desires to get a PhD in philosophy

I'm freaking out right now, mainly because I only ever did like one course with most of my professors. Out of the two I worked closest with, one of them has been kind enough to work like pretty closely on the process, and the other one has been dead silent because of a bunch of things going on in their life, and am in the process of trying to re-open that communication channel.

The other big hurdle is that for financial reasons I am on the opposite end of the United States as I could not find a stable job near my college that could pay DC / Northern Virginia levels of rent. 

Currently, due to this, I only have like one real letter of recommendation on lock-down.

I am thinking of going to get an MA to try and drum up two more, but the issue there is that it seems like all the MA programs for Philosophy in WA require 3 of em. 

I also was part of an Accelerated MA program for the college, used it to take Graduate level work, but due to the move that the family was making I kinda had to ghost out and am concerned that might lead to bad blood with one of the professors I want to get into contact with but I'm worried that if I broach the subject that'll create that bad blood by bringing it up.

So, the question becomes: 

          1. Should I reach out to the professors I only did like one course with, but who seemed to respect the general cut of my jib? 

          2. Should I look to other sources for possible letters of recommendation? Both in other departments, my English classes for instance, or outside of academia proper? Working a normal job right  now and am thinking of asking one of them to give me a generic one, if that might be of use?
          3.  Any tips on trying to get the conversation started and not feeling like a miserable and selfish bastard for taking up a lot of their incredibly busy and precarious schedules?


Edited by ThesisNotFound
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1. Yes, if you interacted with them outside of class and they have something more to say than just "X attended my class and got an A". 

2. One letter could be from a different department, especially for an MA application. Again, you'd want it to be able to be more than just a Did Well In Class letter. If you're just getting one of those, at least get it from a philosophy professor. However, I'm not sure I see the point of a letter from a regular job, unless it's glowing and preferably talks about transferrable skills. Otherwise, it's hard to see how it would help. Overall, it's fine to have an okay third letter if the first two are strong. 

3. Writing letters is part of a professor's job. You don't need to apologize or feel like you're stealing their time in any way. Just be sure to help them help you: provide them with a CV, SOP, and anything else they ask, so they can write you as strong a letter as possible. You might even offer to give them a short summary of what you hope the letter will contain. But in any event, as long as you're professional and respectful, this is a part of their job so you don't need to feel like you're taking their time away from their job. 

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There is no harm in asking professors if they can write you a GOOD/positive letter of recommendation (if not sure). I've had a short fall-out with one of my LoRs in the past but we talked it out and we're totally OK (plus I saved two of his projects so he's very favorable now as he almost lost his grant if I hadn't pulled through and revived the projects). I asked him about it very directly and he was totally OK with everything and said that even though we had that it should have been a good learning experience for me (and we worked it out professionally) and he certainly believes that I should be in a PhD program based on our work together could certainly mention a bunch of things that would make a strong, positive letter. 

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