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Thread: Advice on getting recom. letters & research proposal review

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    Advice on getting recom. letters & research proposal review

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    Dear all,

    I'm preparing for my application this year, and I have 2 questions that I hope to have your advice/sharing experience.

    1. For recommendation letters:
    I personally find it hard to get academic recommendation letters, partly because I have been out of school for too long (i think!). It seems that my previous professors don't remember me, and don't want to bother to write recommendations for me. I have contacted two of them recently to ask if they can write recommendations for me, but two of them just don't reply! I did mention that I intend to apply widely to 10-15 schools, but I'm not sure whether that's the reason that turned them off (because they are U.S PhDs, I assume that they understand the process). And it's tough to get the professor in the field that we intend to apply for (in my case, Marketing) to write recommendation letters for various reasons (some switched schools, others don't want to help)... so I have no choice but to resort to the ones that know me and are willing to write for me.
    I personally don't want to 'disturb' people, so I do feel shy and resistant to ask previous professors to. But even with a very polite, thoughtful letter, the reply is still silence.
    I would like to ask for your advice/experience on this issue. What should we do? Is there any smart way to handle this? If we apply to 15-20 schools, isn't that a huge burden for the ones who write recommendation letters for us? Should we give them something back (e.g. a gift)?...

    2. Research proposal & personal statement:
    I'd like to have someone (esp. current PhD candidates or PhD graduates) to review these documents and give me some inputs, or else i don't know if I misunderstood or wrote something silly instead. How can I do this? If there's anyone who can help me, I'd be indebted!

    Thank you very much!
    Wish you all the best of luck!

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    Re: Advice on getting recom. letters & research proposal review

    My views on those two questions.

    1) In most cases questions are very similar. So, once they write a reference it is a matter of copy and paste. If you have more than two referees, divide the schools among them.

    2) Personal statement and research proposal should be unique and should be your own work. So, I would be apprehensive about others, especially people whom you don't know well, reviewing your work.

    Quote Originally Posted by trinhtucseadon View Post

    1. For recommendation letters:
    2. Research proposal & personal statement:

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    Re: Advice on getting recom. letters & research proposal review

    1. Write to 5-6 professors stating your intent to apply for a PhD and mention about your research interests in brief. Also mention any projects/research you did with them or any classes you attended. Schedule an appointment to speak with them on phone or if possible, an in-person meeting. Wait patiently for them to reply. Contact their secretary about a week later if you don't receive a reply. Send a reminder email to them about 7-10 days later after your first email.

    2. After the appointment has been scheduled, send them your academic transcripts, a draft version of your statement of purpose and a short resume so that the conversation would be meaningful.

    3. Choose only those professors who know you well. Speak with 5-6 professors and convince 4-5 professors to write letters for you. Stay in touch with them throughout the application process and beyond.

    4. Just keep re-writing and editing the statement till you feel comfortable. Most often, it'll continue till a week or two before the application deadline. Get it reviewed by your referees and others only after you've put sufficient effort yourself. Also, only incorporate those suggestions that you feel would actually help your statement.

    Good Luck!
    Last edited by freefour; 04-16-2017 at 10:58 AM.

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    Re: Advice on getting recom. letters & research proposal review

    I'm also worried about recs. I like the idea asking so many professors so that if one or two say no then you'll still be fine. I was wondering about the timeline you suggest in doing this. Would it be best to email professors toward the end of summer before school starts or wait until the new semester has already began. I'm scared about waiting too long to ask and getting rejected. I'm only 2yrs out of school so hopefully they remember me.

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    Re: Advice on getting recom. letters & research proposal review

    I can tell what I did, maybe it helps you. I started talking early with professors, but not about Letters of Recommendations, just about general ideas about my future, what was their opinion about a PhD abroad, things like that. This way, I was able to add depth to my relationship with them and see who were the professors who were more supportive of my plans.

    There was a professor who was among the top in my list of potential recommenders, but after I talked to him I gave up, and did not ask a ltter from him. He did not seem very enthusiastic (that surprised me), so I don't think his letter would be strong.

    By the time I started my applications, I had already a few professors who had shown to me that you would help with the application process. Asking for Letters of Recommendation was just a logical and natural step after our talks. I think it's much better than just show up after a time, asking for recommendations out of the blue.

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    Re: Advice on getting recom. letters & research proposal review

    Dear all,

    Thank you so much for all of your inputs.
    About recom letters, I'd like to share that two of my ex-professors have just informed that they'd be willing to write for me, even though another 2 didn't reply. Sadly, two of them were very nice to me while I was there, and I performed well in those classes...

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