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View Full Version : How many letters of recommendation per letter writer?



jiafei9014
10-15-2012, 01:15 AM
Very simple and straightforward question here. I'm planning on asking my 3 professors to write 6 letters each, but not quite sure if that's too many considering they are all pretty busy folks. How many do you guys ask your letter writers to do? Is there a rough concensus on the average number?

Thanks

Walras
10-15-2012, 01:25 AM
I hope you realize they don't really personalize them for each school. They send basically the same letter to every school you apply so my letter writers didn't care if I had a list of 6 schools or 16. The key is to be organized. I think I'd have annoyed my LOR writers a lot if I'd added schools again and again midway through the process. What they wanted was a list of my schools so one hour they could just look up the email notification request from each school, follow the link and upload the pdf.

The real work, and real question is if they know someone at that school are they willing to pick up the phone for you and suggest you're a really good candidate.

felixinomist
10-15-2012, 01:46 AM
I agree with Walras. What I did was making a list with detail of programme, school, the admission deadline, address, links & so on. Make sure everything is comfortable for them to write it for you.

chateauheart
10-15-2012, 02:19 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't they have to fill out individual forms in addition to uploading their letters?

Integral
10-15-2012, 02:24 AM
My three LOR writers each wrote 14 letters, and were willing to write more.

The letter itself varies little from school to school, kind of like your SOP.

On being organized: I sent each of my writers my resume, transcript, and an Excel sheet with schools, relevant faculty at those schools, and deadlines. I think i also shared my SOP with them.

Walras
10-15-2012, 03:50 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't they have to fill out individual forms in addition to uploading their letters?
I have heard about checklist forms like (rate this applicant (1-10) on future research potential/skill with computing/etc.), but I think these are not long. Obviously since faculty design the admissions process and wind up doing the LORs they try not to make it hard on themselves, and generally it's common practice to include in the LOR comparisons between this student and past students they've known which are inevitably much more useful and important then numerical values on an arbitrary scale.

Also, I know someone who gave their faculty, their list, sent out notifications and reminders a week before the deadline and still had a writer submit their letter a couple weeks late. None of his schools minded.

jiafei9014
10-15-2012, 03:55 AM
I have heard about checklist forms like (rate this applicant (1-10) on future research potential/skill with computing/etc.), but from what I understand this is not the norm. Obviously since faculty design the admissions process and wind up doing the LORs they try not to make it hard on themselves. I know people who gave their faculty, their list, sent out notifications and reminders a week before the deadline and still had a writer submit their letter a couple weeks late. None of his schools minded.

Walras, when do the schools actually start reading applications? I had a professor tell me that although the stated deadlines for most schools are around early-mid Decemberish, they don't actually start reading the application till January, which means we shouldn't freak out too much even if the letters are a week/couple of weeks late?

Walras
10-15-2012, 04:01 AM
which means we shouldn't freak out too much even if the letters are a week/couple of weeks late?

Yeah, that was my point. I doubt it matters if your LOR writer is organized. The main thing is you must never miss a deadline. Of course, you should still send a reminder email to your LOR writers before the deadlines and some apps also allowed you to resend notifications to LOR writers who hadn't submitted their letter which useful because then the link is right there for them. It's important to remind them because it's very easy for your LOR writer to miss a school when you give them a list with 12 schools and then later decide to switch out 1 of them and add on one or two more. A missing LOR in late Jan./Feb. will flag your whole app as incomplete and it'll probably never see the light of day.

Integral
10-15-2012, 04:55 AM
@jiafei9014: No school reads the prospective PhD files until well after the January AEA/ASSA meetings. The fall quarter, and in particular December-early January, is devoted almost exclusively to interviewing and flying out job-market candidates.

That, indeed, is why you are able to send in your updated transcripts in late December/early January. They haven't looked at the files yet.

Don't take this as an excuse to send things in late, but know that some schools are somewhat lenient with the LORs in particular.

I'm at BC now, and I know one of my letters was sent here a few days late. N=1, but still...

tm_member
10-15-2012, 12:53 PM
Schools who aren't hiring may start looking at applications that are complete quite early. Just to get a headstart on the process. They almost certainly will still be reviewing files well into February. The graduate secretary prepares the files for review and just waits until they are complete before passing them along to the committee member they are supposed to go to (usually determined based on geography).