When to Ask for LOR Before Taking a Year Off

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
aquaokay
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When to Ask for LOR Before Taking a Year Off

Postby aquaokay » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:31 am

I'm sure this topic has had to have come up a hundred times before, but I searched the forums for a while and couldn't find anything, so I apologize if its repetitive, but...

I'm graduating in May and plan on applying next cycle and working for a year. I'm wondering when would be the best time to ask professors for LOR, now (at the beginning of the semester) or after graduation? (assuming that towards the end of the semester would probably be the worst time)

My first thought is to wait until after graduation, since both of them I'm taking classes with right now (one of which for my thesis), and I'm assuming they'd be in a better position to write them when the semester's over. My fear, though, is that if I wait until after graduation and don't see them on a regular basis then it might be easier for them to ignore (neither of them are particularly irresponsible but I'm sure they probably just have more important shit to do). I also just have no idea when would be best for them, which is probably the most important consideration.

Any responses are greatly appreciated! Thanks!

aquaokay
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Re: When to Ask for LOR Before Taking a Year Off

Postby aquaokay » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:20 pm

No thoughts?

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rowingmyboat
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Re: When to Ask for LOR Before Taking a Year Off

Postby rowingmyboat » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:40 pm

Are you still going to be in the area once you graduate? And have you already signed up for lsac's app service?

I took a year off but the way I did it was dumb. What you should do is sign up for that lsac app thing I can't remember the name of but it is like $140 now. Then I'd ask the lor writers now so you can meet and give them everything in person. And you can also hassle them about it not being finished even though it's been three months in person instead of email (which you will inevitably have to do).

If you are staying in the area upon graduation, you can wait.

Tl;dr --do it now and get it out of the way.

acrossthelake
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Re: When to Ask for LOR Before Taking a Year Off

Postby acrossthelake » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:50 pm

I'd wait until they have more to say unless you just really don't trust them. I mean, I asked all my profs by the end of Junior Year, left campus for the summer, and they got them in late August as I requested no problem even when I was nowhere nearby.

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cylon_clone
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Re: When to Ask for LOR Before Taking a Year Off

Postby cylon_clone » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:52 pm

I was in the same situation - graduating in May and taking a year off.

My first LOR is form from a professor whose class I'd taken before, but whom I had a second time for my final semester. Even though he knew me, I waited until very early April to ask for the LOR, so he had at least most of the semester to judge my work ethic, potential for success, etc.

The second LOR was more trouble to get. I had him for a professor a few semesters ago, advisor, etc but waited just before graduating in May to send him an email requesting an LOR. Big mistake. It took him about 5 months longer than my other professor. I had to send him multiple emails as a reminder. I eventually stopped by in-person (luckily my undergrad is only an hour away and I was in the area), to make sure he got the LOR off in decent time.

Advice: Wait a few months into the semester. Work hard. Make a good impression. Then ask them - giving them at least a few weeks to write it AND a deadline. Send friendly e-mail reminders if they don't send it by the deadline. Hopefully the LOR will be done a couple weeks before finals. If not, drop by during office hours with a random question about the readings and casually bring up the LOR again. It's best to get to them before the final exam frenzy starts.

good luck.

aquaokay
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Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:04 pm

Re: When to Ask for LOR Before Taking a Year Off

Postby aquaokay » Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:40 pm

Thanks for the responses! It's always good to get advice from people who've been there.

I should've mentioned this before, but I'm planning on working in NY after graduating and go to school in VA so I won't be very close. Also, I've had at least 2 classes with one professor and three with the other, and all were kind of small so they already know me pretty well. So from what everyone's saying, it seems best to ask them soon.

I'm probably stressing out about this way too much, but I'm worried about setting a deadline for them in case they'd prefer to write it after I finish the class/thesis with them. Does anyone have an opinion about kind of making the deadline an option? (as in: "I was hoping to have everything before I go back to NY after graduation, but I'm applying in the fall so if you'd prefer to write it later that's fine).

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rowingmyboat
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Re: When to Ask for LOR Before Taking a Year Off

Postby rowingmyboat » Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:57 pm

I wouldn't mention the second option because they will probably take you up on that and put it off for a while. I'd just make up a deadline you would like to have it done by that is much earlier than your real one.

I think waiting until later in the semester would be ok. I would start going to office hours occasionally in the meantime. Then they will probably foresee you asking for the letter and have some recent memories of you to improve the letter.

LOR can be a real hassle and checking it off your list early will save you a lot of stress.

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2LT_CPG
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Re: When to Ask for LOR Before Taking a Year Off

Postby 2LT_CPG » Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:17 pm

I took the academic year after I graduated undergrad off because I have a four-month active duty commitment in the Army this Spring, so I had to navigate these waters too.

What I did was sit down with all my potential LOR writers before graduation and talk to them about my plans. Then I asked if they'd be willing to write for me. They all agreed. Then come Fall I simply emailed them and updated them on my LSAT score, my activities since graduation, etc, and they uploaded their letters to LSAC. The delay between agreeing to write and actually sending the letters was important because I suspect one (if not all of my writers) included something about my military commitment in the LOR.

I think the crucial part was the meeting I had with them last Spring; professors write a lot of LORs for students they barely know, and I suspect a good number of them are for kids who simply email them. Getting in touch with them personally ensures they know who you are and write a personalized, good LOR.

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hoos89
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Re: When to Ask for LOR Before Taking a Year Off

Postby hoos89 » Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:35 pm

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