BamaPsych

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I have a couple of worries about getting Letters of Reccomendation. I plan on asking in September/October for the December deadlines. However, do most professors get aggrevated with all the differing instructions per school? For example, some programs want the letters mailed directly to them; others want them sealed and given to me and I send them; some require a form to accompany the letters and some do not. I'd like to apply to more schools than the average applicant (I hear the average is around 10-12?). Are my references going to be agitated if I follow through with this plan? And furthermore, how do I tell them the instructions for each letter? Would I write a list of every school and the letter requirements for each?

Thanks for your input
 

erg923

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No, I don't think they will be aggravated by it. Anyone who is willing to write you a LOR is invested in seeing you succeed. The minor pain in the butt that it is to do them is generally offset by knowing that they are helping you. That being said, especially if you are applying to more schools than the average applicant, don't wait till Oct to start asking. Ask them much earlier, in case one falls through, and give them the materials by August or Sept at the latest. Some professors are very busy, and it makes it alot easier for them if they have a good couple months warning and buffer zone to get it done. Write a list of the instructions for each school and the addresses for each school. I even addressed the envelopes for them.
 

psychanon

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Don't worry, writing letters of rec is a part of their job, and one that they've surely done millions of times (and the instructions always differ from place to place). Just make it as easy as possible for them--and absolutely dummyproof. I typed up a table which included each school, where to send it, and whether they had their own form. I printed out every form, addressed and stamped each envelope, and paperclipped the envelope to the corresponding form. For the ones that were supposed to go to me, i stamped & addressed the envelope to me, or just wrote my name on the envelope for the recommenders that I saw regularly. I put everything in one manilla envelope and gave/ mailed them to the recommenders. These days, I hear that many schools offer online recommendations. You should probably check with your recommenders about whether they prefer that option before you prepare your packet.
 

psy22

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Your LOR writers want to help you so they will not be aggravated by the process; remember most of them are quite familiar with the process and understand the nuances of applying.

However, I would suggest making the letter writing process as easy as possible for them. I put together a binder with each school tabbed with the materials and instructions for each school (e.g. School X had a form + wanted it included in my packet). This was in chronological order with the first due date as tab 1, etc. This also included an addressed stamped envelope.

At the front of a binder was a spreadsheet with each school, deadline and method of submission (with my packet vs. online vs. sent separate). I also included a copy of my transcripts which highlighted courses or independent studies I completed with them, a draft of my personal statement (*bonus* is that they can offer their suggestions, though my recommenders were already reading mine) as well as my CV. I would suggest early Sept if you have a large # of schools; but keep in mind you could ask tomorrow and STILL be waiting for that one pesky letter for school X the week before it's due! :eek:

Also, know that some schools change their process from year to year and the updated process and/or forms may not be on websites yet (or even by August) so keep checking in with the schools to see if the process has changed. This actually happened to me, luckily I caught it in time.

Good Luck!
 

lilies05

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i have a question -- i would like to apply to a bunch of schools too, and i know my profs are really busy so i would like to ask them in july and have them finished by oct (i would like my apps done by this point since i will be out of the country for the month of nov). do you think this is possible? some schools don't publish their app info until sept 1 - should i call the schools to get a copy of the recommendation form early than that to accommodate my letter writers?

this has been worrying me a bit... any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

erg923

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Well most of the applications themselves can be done online these days, and in my experience, most of the school recommendation forms (if they use one) are standard and not redone each year by the school. Therefore, I think you could do the LORS as the first piece of the process in the late summer.
 
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BamaPsych

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Thanks a lot for the information guys - this has been extremely helpful. I never thought of organizing with tables, binders, folders, envelopes etc. and it all makes perfect sense.

Thanks again!
 

EquestriAnn

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A lot of schools don't actually care how the letter gets there. For one of my schools, my letters were faxed and I was accepted. I called a few that said online only because one of my profs wouldnt' do that, and they said it was totally fine to mail it in. Oh and I didn't use any of those extra forms they "require," they all told me that if your letter writer knows what he/she is doing, they should not need the form. I guess if I were worried that their letter wouldn't include all of the pertinent information I would have insisted that they use those forms, but that was not the case. I'm not saying just do it however you want, but if it is a big problem you should check with schools about how flexible their rules are.
 

pinknyyy

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If you are worried about the forms at least ask them before Sept/October so that you can come up with a contingency plan if anything falls through.

And yeah, I faxed in a few of mine because they got lost in the crazy that is admissions offices. So don't worry... just line up people that say yes!
 

toby jones

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Meh...

Applications are a pain in the butt all round. If you want to get the best references you can from your referees then make it clear to your referees what they should do with each application and provide them with addressed and stamped envelopes for the ones they need to sent straight on...
 

psychwanabe

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I whole-heartedly agree with the advice of organizing everything to make it easy for your LOR writers. I did one thing differently, however. I did NOT put stamps on the envelopes. I had everything addressed and ready to go so that they could seal it and sign across the seal (as many schools ask the LOR writers to do), and then I asked them to give it all back to me. This way, I knew that the letters had been mailed, and when. In many respects, it makes it easier for the writer (all they have to do is write, seal it up, and call/email you to come get it) and it gave me the security of knowing the letters went out.

Most prof's are crazy busy and *many* are absentminded and I did not want to leave the actual mailing of the letter in their hands. Call me obsessive or controlling, but all my letters were there on time or if they weren't I knew which one was late and why and where it was.

...my $.02.
 

psychanon

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I whole-heartedly agree with the advice of organizing everything to make it easy for your LOR writers. I did one thing differently, however. I did NOT put stamps on the envelopes. I had everything addressed and ready to go so that they could seal it and sign across the seal (as many schools ask the LOR writers to do), and then I asked them to give it all back to me. This way, I knew that the letters had been mailed, and when. In many respects, it makes it easier for the writer (all they have to do is write, seal it up, and call/email you to come get it) and it gave me the security of knowing the letters went out.

Most prof's are crazy busy and *many* are absentminded and I did not want to leave the actual mailing of the letter in their hands. Call me obsessive or controlling, but all my letters were there on time or if they weren't I knew which one was late and why and where it was.

...my $.02.
This is probably the best of way of getting recs from profs who you see regularly. However, if you are in a different city from your undergrad institution (as I was), you don't want to have them mail them to you before you mail them off. You can always call the department to make sure the recs were received.
 

psychwanabe

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^ Good point ^