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Recommendation Letters For Grad School


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So I recently decided that I'm going to pursue my MSW in grad school. Problem is that I graduated in May 2010 with a Degree in English and have not kept in close contact with my professors.


It'd be hard to find their contact info and I doubt they'd write me a good letter with some e-mail out of the blue. However, I was a very strong student and maybe stood out in their mind among the hundreds.


Am I out of luck on this one?


P.S. I've been working since graduation but my last employer failed to write me a reference letter when I asked so I think a recommendation letter is too much to ask for.

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Don't worry about it man. Its part of the job. I never "stood out in class" or kept in contact with professors as an undergrad. When I decided to go to grad school I simply looked at my senior year transcripts (most recent classes; classes that had a subject-matter connection with the masters programs I was applying for) and picked the classes I made the best grades in. I contacted the professors (surely your school has a directory of some sort) and they were very willing to write them. They do it ALL THE TIME. They probably have a template or something. As long as they can look back at their records and see that you did well in their class, you will be fine.

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Seems easy enough but my dilemma is about how to contact them. Is an e-mail too informal? Or would a phone call (during office hours) be too awkward?




Phone call first, unless you are able to go see them during office hours. The effort will not go unnoticed. Follow up with an email. They will want some information to work with, e.g. full name, when you took their class, what grad school programs you are applying for, maybe some general interests. You will also need to tell them when you will need the letters by. Tell them you will need them a week before you actually need them.

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I think you've gotten some excellent advice!


I just wanted to add... for the ex-employer. Did they refuse? Or did they simply not get around to doing it? There's a difference.


I just think you need to realize that from the writer's perspective - it's not hard - it's just a bit of a pain in the butt to write a recommendation letter and they get nothing out of it. So - there is little motivation to do it. Are YOU ever excited to do work you don't have to do? Probably not. It's very low priority to them. These people (professors and employers) are the same. For the professor - definitely call! (or show up). It's much harder to ignore a phone call or person in front of you than it is to avoid an email. (BTW - I wouldn't leave a message, either, if you can help it. Just keep calling back).


I also don't think it's too late to contact the employer if you left on good terms and they didn't deny your request. It was possibly just an oversight.

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I left on good terms but it was more of a case of him being a lazy/unprofessional supervisor than me not putting in exemplary work. I asked for it with my 2 weeks notice and never got it. Reminded him on my last day, e-mailed him 2 weeks after that and didn't receive a response.


However since then I may have complicated things (burned bridges) as I got two of my coworkers from that company hired at my current job.

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