What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
damask_rain
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What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby damask_rain » Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:27 pm

I appreciate any advice you can offer.

I approached my recommender months ago and he agreed to help with enthusiasm. He even suggested we meet during summer to talk more about my goals and offered help with my PS as well as offering to connect me to practicing attorneys he knows. However, he still hasn't written the letter because of a busy schedule and a family emergency. I have been very patient and I have of course conveyed my gratitude to him, but I am worried about not getting the letter in time. I am wondering how I should approach him and what exactly I should say at this point. After 2 months of no response from him, I emailed early in the morning to be at the top of his email list and finally got a response saying he is in. However, 3 weeks have passed and he still hasn't written it or sent an email.

I am wondering how to remind him without being pushy (as I do understand he had family problems). I really don't want to discourage him from writing a letter because I was confident his would be my strongest letter. Now I am starting to lose confidence and wondering if he will even write it at all. I can't afford to lose any more time, but I also don't want to lose him as a recommender. Please help :)

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Rigo
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby Rigo » Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:53 pm

Is he one of your two letters or do you already have two in the bag and he'd just be an additional one?

damask_rain
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby damask_rain » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:05 pm

Rigo wrote:Is he one of your two letters or do you already have two in the bag and he'd just be an additional one?


He is one of the two, not a 3rd. The other letter is complete, but I strongly feel the unwritten letter by this prof will be the better letter. I don't what to think now.

Justtrying2help
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby Justtrying2help » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:14 pm

Find another person to write your recommendation. Never pin your entire career or personal goals on the actions of another person. If you need 2 recommendations, keep asking until 4 people agree to do it. In that case, it wouldn't matter and you wouldn't be spending weeks of your life stressed over the inaction of this one individual. In your professional career, become wildly successful and use this moment as a chip on your shoulder. Don't burn bridges out of frustration. Waiting months for a recommendation letter is ridiculous. If the person cared about you at all, they wouldn't take over 1 month. Not many people are that busy. At this point, either the letter will never come or it'll be terrible (just enough to shut you up).

P.S. I was in this situation before when I asked 5 people for recommendations and received 4 within a week. The one I wanted never came but it didn't matter as I got exactly where I wanted without it. I don't harbor animosity toward that individual, but I learned a lot from that situation. Never take anything for granted and always have a strong plan B when engaged in situations where you are depending on people who have nothing to gain from it.
Last edited by Justtrying2help on Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Rigo
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby Rigo » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:24 pm

Start making moves to get a letter from a different prof, even if it'd be a generic one. You don't want to be left stranded if this guy never comes through.

damask_rain
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby damask_rain » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:49 pm

Justtrying2help wrote:Find another person to write your recommendation. Never pin your entire career or personal goals on the actions of another person. If you need 2 recommendations, keep asking until 4 people agree to do it. In that case, it wouldn't matter and you wouldn't be spending weeks of your life stressed over the inaction of this one individual. In your professional career, become wildly successful and use this moment as a chip on your shoulder. Don't burn bridges out of frustration. Waiting months for a recommendation letter is ridiculous. If the person cared about you at all, they wouldn't take over 1 month. Not many people are that busy. At this point, either the letter will never come or it'll be terrible (just enough to shut you up).

P.S. I was in this situation before when I asked 5 people for recommendations and received 4 within a week. The one I wanted never came but it didn't matter as I got exactly where I wanted without it. I don't harbor animosity toward that individual, but I learned a lot from that situation. Never take anything for granted and always have a strong plan B when engaged in situations where you are depending on people who have nothing to gain from it.


Maybe I am justifying his actions because I really want the letter from this specific person, but I did mention in various emails that I wouldn't be applying until late November/December, so I am wondering if the delay is because I was so lenient/flexible about my deadline and didn't push for its completeion. Should I just be upfront and say if you can't do it by the end of the month, please kindly let me know so I can secure another recommender.

I really wanted a letter from this person because I participated a lot in class discussion, did several presentations/research, and was very passionate about the content of the class. I felt like the letter would really show a side of me that my other recommender(s) wouldn't be able to show. I am nervous about this, but you are so right. I should ask a couple other people as back up at this point.

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Barack O'Drama
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby Barack O'Drama » Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:53 pm

Keep on it, but as others above have noted, you should really try to figure out a plan b.

Justtrying2help
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby Justtrying2help » Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:59 pm

I'm the king of fake deadlines. Growing up, I played sports and my mom had a bad habit of bringing me to practice 15 minutes late. To stop that, I would tell her that practice started 20 minutes earlier than when it actually started, so I could have a buffer. I took that mentality with me. If I needed a letter for something by December and I knew in August, I would tell my recommenders I needed it by late September just to have it in case my plans changed or if I needed to expedite the process. Also, by that point, I'd know who I could depend on. There is nothing wrong with asking for a recommendation letter, but understand that the professor doesn't lose anything (other than your respect) if they renege. People will sometimes fail you when you need them the most. You have to place yourself in the optimum position to succeed.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:06 pm

damask_rain wrote:Maybe I am justifying his actions because I really want the letter from this specific person, but I did mention in various emails that I wouldn't be applying until late November/December, so I am wondering if the delay is because I was so lenient/flexible about my deadline and didn't push for its completeion. Should I just be upfront and say if you can't do it by the end of the month, please kindly let me know so I can secure another recommender.

Yes. I would bet money that they think they don't have to have the letter in until late November/December, so of course they haven't done it yet. Profs are just as likely to work to deadline as anyone else.

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rpupkin
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:11 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
damask_rain wrote:Maybe I am justifying his actions because I really want the letter from this specific person, but I did mention in various emails that I wouldn't be applying until late November/December, so I am wondering if the delay is because I was so lenient/flexible about my deadline and didn't push for its completeion. Should I just be upfront and say if you can't do it by the end of the month, please kindly let me know so I can secure another recommender.

Yes. I would bet money that they think they don't have to have the letter in until late November/December, so of course they haven't done it yet. Profs are just as likely to work to deadline as anyone else.

Yep.

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april_ludgate
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby april_ludgate » Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:41 am

I'm in the exact same position. I actually asked this professor a year ago, after finishing my second class with him, and he enthusiastically agreed. This semester he is actually my thesis advisor, and he has said multiple times that he will write it soon, and hasn't. I don't think it's personal; he's just that kind of person. But I wanted to submit by today so I'm very frustrated! I don't really have anyone else who could write a good, personal rec for me, and he can't avoid me because he's my advisor. So I'm just going to have to up the pressure I guess

cavalier1138
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Oct 21, 2017 7:55 am

april_ludgate wrote:I'm in the exact same position. I actually asked this professor a year ago, after finishing my second class with him, and he enthusiastically agreed. This semester he is actually my thesis advisor, and he has said multiple times that he will write it soon, and hasn't. I don't think it's personal; he's just that kind of person. But I wanted to submit by today so I'm very frustrated! I don't really have anyone else who could write a good, personal rec for me, and he can't avoid me because he's my advisor. So I'm just going to have to up the pressure I guess


Try this one out: "I'm trying to submit all my applications by Thursday. Can you have your letter ready for me by then?"

trkmaniak00
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby trkmaniak00 » Sat Oct 21, 2017 8:34 am

I had a very similar situation where a professor who I had a great relationship with (spoke outside of class at least once a week for two years) who really was a mentor to me who just could not deliver. I kept imposing deadlines and he assured me he’d have it by that date. I finally confronted him that if he couldn’t do it that’s fine but let me know. It turns it that he just didn’t understand law school admissions. He had only experienced PhD which to my understanding has much less firm deadlines or even incentives to be early (I.e. law school rolling admissions make early submission crucial for splitters).
He did get it in eventually but because it took so long I began to doubt what he wrote about. He had participated in my most successful academic accomplishments but he fact that he took so long really made me second guess that letter. I doubt it affected my admissions last year but now that I am applying this year I actually replaced his letter with another profs just because this experience made me second guess it so much.
This is all a long way of saying that this experience sounds like it is going to make you less confident in your letters of rec. as others have said, it probably won’t make a difference, but if you’re the type to dwell on a decision or second guess for a long time, my advice would be to scrap it entirely because that episode caused a lot of doubt for me.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:12 am

FWIW, not understanding the schedule/timing of law school admissions isn't going to have any effect on whether the letter is good or not. There is no law-school-specific kind of LOR that a prof has to submit, and I don't think there's any reason to doubt the letter based on its timing.

239840
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby 239840 » Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:25 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:FWIW, not understanding the schedule/timing of law school admissions isn't going to have any effect on whether the letter is good or not. There is no law-school-specific kind of LOR that a prof has to submit, and I don't think there's any reason to doubt the letter based on its timing.


If everything else is the same, I'd agree, but if you have reasons to doubt the slower person's quality as a recommender, it seems like it might be better to be safe than sorry. In that sense I agree with trk.

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april_ludgate
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby april_ludgate » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:12 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
april_ludgate wrote:I'm in the exact same position. I actually asked this professor a year ago, after finishing my second class with him, and he enthusiastically agreed. This semester he is actually my thesis advisor, and he has said multiple times that he will write it soon, and hasn't. I don't think it's personal; he's just that kind of person. But I wanted to submit by today so I'm very frustrated! I don't really have anyone else who could write a good, personal rec for me, and he can't avoid me because he's my advisor. So I'm just going to have to up the pressure I guess


Try this one out: "I'm trying to submit all my applications by Thursday. Can you have your letter ready for me by then?"


It worked! Well, close enough; he submitted it today. Thanks!

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KENYADIGG1T
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby KENYADIGG1T » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:30 am

april_ludgate wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
april_ludgate wrote:I'm in the exact same position. I actually asked this professor a year ago, after finishing my second class with him, and he enthusiastically agreed. This semester he is actually my thesis advisor, and he has said multiple times that he will write it soon, and hasn't. I don't think it's personal; he's just that kind of person. But I wanted to submit by today so I'm very frustrated! I don't really have anyone else who could write a good, personal rec for me, and he can't avoid me because he's my advisor. So I'm just going to have to up the pressure I guess


Try this one out: "I'm trying to submit all my applications by Thursday. Can you have your letter ready for me by then?"


It worked! Well, close enough; he submitted it today. Thanks!


Ayyyyyy! Props!

damask_rain
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby damask_rain » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:10 pm

april_ludgate wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
april_ludgate wrote:I'm in the exact same position. I actually asked this professor a year ago, after finishing my second class with him, and he enthusiastically agreed. This semester he is actually my thesis advisor, and he has said multiple times that he will write it soon, and hasn't. I don't think it's personal; he's just that kind of person. But I wanted to submit by today so I'm very frustrated! I don't really have anyone else who could write a good, personal rec for me, and he can't avoid me because he's my advisor. So I'm just going to have to up the pressure I guess


Try this one out: "I'm trying to submit all my applications by Thursday. Can you have your letter ready for me by then?"


It worked! Well, close enough; he submitted it today. Thanks!


Now if only mine could say the same. I asked again, but no reply. :( I am asking others as well but no one has responded yet. I feel so nervous.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:29 pm

What specific words did you use to ask again?

damask_rain
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby damask_rain » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:10 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:What specific words did you use to ask again?


I wrote:

"Everything is ready to go. You should receive an email from LSAC soon which explains how to submit the letter. I was wondering if you can have it submitted by November 5th the latest. I am trying to get all my materials in by that date."

If he doesn't reply, I will just go to OH and confront him in person to see what's going on. I just wasn't in town so I did not have this option before.

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rpupkin
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:20 pm

damask_rain wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:What specific words did you use to ask again?


I wrote:

"Everything is ready to go. You should receive an email from LSAC soon which explains how to submit the letter. I was wondering if you can have it submitted by November 5th the latest. I am trying to get all my materials in by that date."

November 5th is 10 days away. Reread this thread if you can't understand why that fact explains your situation.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: What should I do if my recommender is being unresponsive, but wasn't before?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:39 pm

Exactly. OP, I get your anxiety, but this means you will get the letter on November 5. Panic is a waste of energy at this point. Most of the world (including lawyers) works strictly to deadline.




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