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reference letter not sent


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#1 rmbfran

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:31 PM

Hi all

I am new to this forum, looking for advise/help. I am a biology undergrad, and have been applying to summer research programs. I put a huge amount of time into my application to one that is in my state, so I could reasonably attend (I have kids so relocating is difficult), and I felt like I had a decent shot at it. Anyway, today was the application deadline, and I found out one of my references never sent in my reference. I was starting to worry about it because she was procrastinating, and I asked her as politly as I could if she had done it yet, and she said "I'll do it tommorow" in kind of a terse voice so I left it alone at that point. Well sure enough she never did. I am really mad but I don't know what to do at this point. I am going to need to take 3 more classes with her before I graduate, so I have to hide my feelings one way or the other.

Is this a normal occurance? I wasn't prepared for this type of thing and don't know how to handle it. Any advise?

#2 casandra

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:58 PM

Hi all

I am new to this forum, looking for advise/help. I am a biology undergrad, and have been applying to summer research programs. I put a huge amount of time into my application to one that is in my state, so I could reasonably attend (I have kids so relocating is difficult), and I felt like I had a decent shot at it. Anyway, today was the application deadline, and I found out one of my references never sent in my reference. I was starting to worry about it because she was procrastinating, and I asked her as politly as I could if she had done it yet, and she said "I'll do it tommorow" in kind of a terse voice so I left it alone at that point. Well sure enough she never did. I am really mad but I don't know what to do at this point. I am going to need to take 3 more classes with her before I graduate, so I have to hide my feelings one way or the other.

Is this a normal occurance? I wasn't prepared for this type of thing and don't know how to handle it. Any advise?


hi rmbfran and welcome to the forum....so did you already lose your chance of getting into the research program in your state? Couldn't you ask for an extension ie enough time for you to ask another person? It's unfortunate that this thing happened though I would think that it's not a 'normal' occurrence. Of course, this is now just a retrospective analysis Posted Image but I think that it is always better to ask reference/recommendation letters from people who are really willing and happy to give you one (needless to say- they know you and how you work), otherwise, you are really risking something like this happening.

I guess you're now reluctant to ask her why she didn't do what she promised to do? If such is the case, then just forget it and chalk it up to experience cos as you said you still have to deal with her before you graduate. If there's anybody who showed bad faith and ill character, it's she and not you. She made you wait and hope and then probably lose opportunity of getting into the program. If she were not willing to give you any reference at all, why agree in the first place? Perhaps you'll have better luck next time (and choose well the people you'd ask for a reference).
"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#3 rmbfran

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 05:56 AM

Thanks Cassandra. What threw me in this situation is that I do know this person well. We spent around 20 hours/per week together all last summer in her lab. Thats why I asked her, she was my "lab" reference. I have also taken 2 classes with her and will be taking 3 more. I did well in her classes and labs and our interactions have always been friendly and pleasant. She did not seem put out when I asked her to be my reference. I reminded her a couple times as the deadline was coming up but was careful not to seem annoyed or nagging. It just freaks me out that she just plain didn't bother with it. She is in a major authority position at my school.

I am asking for an extension from the program, don't know if they will grant it or not. My advisor said she could do it over the weekend, but my adivsor has never seen me in the lab, which is why I didn't ask her in the first place. It is a really small science department at my school, and I know my adivisor is friends with the one who didn't do it. I feel like I am in a very uncomfortable position to even be talking about it with my advisor. I was careful not to name the person who didn't do it to my advisor, but she can probably figure it out herself.

I agree with you that I shouldn't try to talk about it with her, but I don't know how I am going to look her in the face again! She knew what a big deal it was, that it could mean the difference between grad school or no grad school for me. I know I'm being dramatic, Posted Image but thats how it feels. I think she possibly thought that I wouldn't know if she didn't do it, that I would just think I didn't get in.

She is a popular and well liked faculty member, and there is no chance I will be discussing this with anyone at my school. Any advise on how to handle it delicately with my advisor?

#4 pito

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:16 AM

Its hard to tell really.. We dont know her, nor know how she is with these kind of things nor we know your relationship with her.. All we can do is read what you write down here...

An example: One of the head of the departement where I work, is always forgetting to send things (eg like letters of recommendation) and its sometimes irritating because you have to tell the professor 50 times to do it... And a first I was like you and it got me irritated... but then I realised its just how the professor is... the personallity...
The professor forget things like that, is often late etc...
I just need to ask it 50 times.. or I even ask it at the moment the professor is in the office, sitting at the computer.. I can then push the professor to send it... I do it in a subtle way.. but it works..
And nobody feels bad about it.. thats just how the professor is..
The professor will tell you: yeah, I'll send it, but then the professor just forgets...
Its not "not wanting" to sending it, its just forgetting it right away...

I dont know how it is with your professor.. So its hard to say something about it.

And yes: its a delicate thing because your future depends on it..
Something you could try (but again depends on the relationship between you and the prof and the prof of the other university) is to send the univeristy you are applying for that a reference can be obtained from your professor..
If your professor is then contacted by some other professor.. perhaps she will be more likeley to send the letter....

And a general note: its indeed important to be carefull and really figure out what you can do, how etc... Its often a psychological game.... sometimes I wonder what I am really doing: research ("science") or playing "mind games" with other people to keep my reputation up, to make contacts, to set up researchtopics etc...
Often its a mask you wear .....
Altough, I admit, I am not a big "player" like that, I am more the straightforward type of person, but this comes with bad and good things.
But at the same time I can play a nice piece of comedy if needed...

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#5 casandra

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 01:18 PM

Its hard to tell really.. We dont know her, nor know how she is with these kind of things nor we know your relationship with her.. All we can do is read what you write down here...

An example: One of the head of the departement where I work, is always forgetting to send things (eg like letters of recommendation) and its sometimes irritating because you have to tell the professor 50 times to do it... And a first I was like you and it got me irritated... but then I realised its just how the professor is... the personallity...
The professor forget things like that, is often late etc...
I just need to ask it 50 times.. or I even ask it at the moment the professor is in the office, sitting at the computer.. I can then push the professor to send it... I do it in a subtle way.. but it works..
And nobody feels bad about it.. thats just how the professor is..
The professor will tell you: yeah, I'll send it, but then the professor just forgets...
Its not "not wanting" to sending it, its just forgetting it right away...

I dont know how it is with your professor.. So its hard to say something about it.

And yes: its a delicate thing because your future depends on it..
Something you could try (but again depends on the relationship between you and the prof and the prof of the other university) is to send the univeristy you are applying for that a reference can be obtained from your professor..
If your professor is then contacted by some other professor.. perhaps she will be more likeley to send the letter....

And a general note: its indeed important to be carefull and really figure out what you can do, how etc... Its often a psychological game.... sometimes I wonder what I am really doing: research ("science") or playing "mind games" with other people to keep my reputation up, to make contacts, to set up researchtopics etc...
Often its a mask you wear .....
Altough, I admit, I am not a big "player" like that, I am more the straightforward type of person, but this comes with bad and good things.
But at the same time I can play a nice piece of comedy if needed...



But rmbfran reminded her the day before (and several times before too) and she replied that she would do it......she has to know or realise the urgency of it so it's very hard to understand or excuse her "forgetfulness".....she's a professor and an almost intrinsic part of their job is to write references for students who are applying to academic programs or jobs etc. and she of all people shld know about deadlines Posted Image...anyways,

@rmbfran: as pito already pointed out, I guess a lot depends on your relationship with your advisor. If it is good one and there is some sort of trust (and esp if you suspect that she probably has an idea about what happened) then of course you have to explain it to her if she asks. But since she is preparing the letter of reference already, then may be you don’t even need to discuss the other professor with her (and who knows…she would probably prefer it this way too). It's always better to be prudent and diplomatic (ie play the game) bec so far, it is just a reference letter that you can anyways get from someone else.

But if you advisor asks, then you have to be more upfront about the whole thing and give your side of the story. And since she’s your advisor, it is almost expected that she’s the first person you’d ask for a reference letter unless you have your reasons for not asking her or she has her reasons for not giving it. So just take cues from her. But right now you have no choice but to carry on (you’ve a degree to finish), so take your classes with that lady and hopefully you’d be able to restrain yourself from giving her the "moving" finger (reference to Sheldon Cooper in one of TBBT episodes) or rolling your eyes during class…Posted Image

Edited by casandra, 01 February 2013 - 01:20 PM.

"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#6 pito

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 02:41 PM

But rmbfran reminded her the day before (and several times before too) and she replied that she would do it......she has to know or realise the urgency of it so it's very hard to understand or excuse her "forgetfulness".....she's a professor and an almost intrinsic part of their job is to write references for students who are applying to academic programs or jobs etc. and she of all people shld know about deadlines Posted Image...anyways,

You are right, but thats how some people are...

Altough, I cant tell in this case.. I dont know the professor.

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.





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