Another headache with recommendation letters

Hi guys,

I posted a related topic regarding recommendation letters earlier and just needed some more advice Iguess…

I am having the hardest time obtaining recommendation letters from my professor. Perhaps it’s just my luck, but either the professors who are nice I am unable to form a good relationship with just because I don’t have enough time between work and classes to meet with them during there office hours and attend their class regularly.

The other (majority) professors just seem to not care about their students as much. Even though I am receiving A’s in every class I am having a hard time with this. I emailed my Chem professor after receiving a 4.0 in the class at the end of the summer, and he said he would be willing to write me a strong recommendation letter. However, over the last two months of the fall semester I have emailed him twice and NO RESPONSE. So far I only have one professor agreed to write me a letter, and need two more (and after this semester I only have two more classes to go…)

Any advice on how to get the seemingly ‘uncaring’ professors to write me a recommendation letter, since unfortuantely it seems I am stuck with them???



I’ll throw in my advice though I’m sure others have more experience with this than me. I have struggled with this myself since I work full-time and have an 80-mile round trip commute to the university. You need to go see them to ask for the letters. Don’t rely on e-mail. Also ask if they can do it by a specific date. When you follow up, do it in person. Also, as hard as it is, force yourself to go to office hours at least a few times during the semester with some questions (even if you don’t find it strictly necessary). I usually either don’t need office hours or don’t have the time so I know it can be tough.

Don’t despair that your professors don’t know you that well. You might be surprised. It’s a long story, but I was forced to get a letter from a professor of an online class to get into my current post-bac program. I was really surprised at how strong a letter he wrote despite never having met me, although I’m sure it helped that he was an attorney and I had communicated with him a fair bit throughout the course.

This is pretty important since you said you only have a few classes left. Give this the same “whatever it takes” approach you have to bring to bear on the rest of this arduous process.

Since I’m just making up prereq’s it’s tough building a relationship with professors. Especially in the hard sciences; they generally only want to work with students who will be around for a while.

However, one suggestion I’ve used throughout my professional career, and it’s been working still, is that after confirming that the professor will indeed write a letter, I give them a brief outline of what I did in class and a copy of my CV/resume. This gives them a headstart and let’s them know that you really want this. It also takes a lot of burden off of them. They can fill in the blanks. I found that they kind of like it. Also, then they have little excuse not to get it done.

Finally, e-mail should be the last resort. Anytime you’re asking someone to do you a favor such as this, it should be done in person, if possible. When I meet with them, I have one of those large envelopes with my outline and resume and my NAME, CLASS, and REQUEST in CAPS on the front for emphasis. And before I leave, I double check to make sure they really, really want to do it. Because if they don’t want to do it, it will never get done, no matter how much you follow up.

Good Luck…