Monday, December 1, 2008

Huge Sigh of Relief

Yesterday I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to ask my boss for a recommendation letter, apologizing profusely for the last-minute request. It had been my intention today to contact him and ask. I spent 24 hours or so figuring out exactly what I was going to say and how I was going to make it all happen so quickly. 

And then, this morning, I checked my MRU email for the gazillionth time:

Hello JLK,

Hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving break. Quick message from my cell
phone... I'll be back in the office by 3:30p, and will have your ''hand' letters. Let me
know if you will come by then, else I'll leave letters in mailbox. Let me know.

- Dr. X.

I felt like a blood vessel in my head that was reaching critical mass and preparing to explode just released and relaxed. 

If I see Dr. X when I pick up the letters, I may just have to offer up a bear hug of gratitude. 

2 Dr. X letters down, 8 more to go. 


amused said...

I'm so glad it worked out!

I had something similar happen when I was applying to grad school and I had a few very very nervous days (now being on the other side I am fairly confident that if a letter of rec gets in a few days late, it won't be held against you).

My story: I had one professor writing a letter of rec that had a very strict letter writing policy (must take multiple classes or be an RA for a year, can send one email reminder a week in advance of due date, etc -- not to mention that this professor is a bit like your rockstar professor... runs a big lab and has very very little contact with any of the undergrad RAs, let alone the grad students). Not realizing its advantages at the time I had applied to a few fellowships in early Fall thus forcing my letter writers to write their letters well before the deadlines. This particular professor got their letter in very early so I wasn't worried at all, but then when actual grad school apps came around it was a different story. I sent my allowed reminder a week in advance, but I had one school that had an online application which allowed me to see whether my letters of rec had been submitted or not. A few days before the application was due, this professor still had not submitted their letter. I went into a panic asking everyone around me whether I should email them again or leave them be. I got mixed advice and the day before it was due when no letter had appeared, I sent out the school's automated reminder. I received a (I determined to be) snarky email response from the professor stating that I had already sent a reminder and did not need to have sent another one. So everything should be fine right? They should get my letter in on time if they didn't need another reminder right? Wrong. They didn't submit the letter until the day after it was due. I then went into my second panic wondering if they had changed the letter at the last minute after they got my second reminder and had included something negative about me and if they would send in the rest of my letters on time.

They did send in my other letters on time (I called to check - another lesson, check on your application, one of my schools "lost" a bunch of my stuff before finding it again!) and I got into multiple grad schools so the letter must not have been negative.

My reason for telling you this? It happens to a lot of people and it wont reflect poorly on you. Also, only one of my letters was from a professor who really knew me, the other ones were from rockstar-esque professors whom I had worked for but not with. I think that is very typical and you should not worry about that too much either! Even having one letter from someone who really knows you is probably putting you ahead of the curve.

Eek sorry for the ridiculously long comment... I have yet to learn how to tell a short story.

JLK said...

Amused! Where have you been all my life???

OMG could I have used this story a couple weeks ago!

Even so, I thank you, because it made me feel so much better about this process. I've been wondering exactly the same thing - if my bugging Dr. X was going to reflect poorly on me in the letters.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Hope you return again soon!

Professor in Training said...

Congrats! I'm really glad Dr X came through for you, but if someone agrees to write a recommendation, it's only right that they do it on time - after all, Dr X needed letters written on is behalf in the past so now it's time for him to pay it forward. My fingers are crossed for you on the success of your applications.

PhizzleDizzle said...

Phew!! I'm glad that worked out. They usually do, in the end, but not without serious levels of panic and stress.

JLK said...

All I can say is that when and if I ever am finally able to become a professor, I am never ever going to screw with students on their rec letters. Ever.

leigh said...

i'm curious- how many schools you are applying to, JLK?

JLK said...

Leigh - I was originally applying to 10, but I dropped the one that was due on 12/1 for a couple of reasons. First, their application was a HUGE pain in the ass to begin with, but when I got to the end of the grad school app (as opposed to the dept app) which was online, it asked me for 3 more essays on top of the personal statement I had already written. Knowing that I would not go to this school unless no other program accepted me, I decided screw it. Also, I knew that the app wasn't going to make it on time because of the letter fiasco.

So I'm down to 9. All but 3 of them are done and submitted, the rest are due in January and Feb so I'm waiting until after final exams to tackle them.

Lab Rat said...

I had a similar experiance last year, although with considerably more embarassment on my part. I was told I needed a reference from my tutor two days before the deadline, emailed her frantically that evening and would have happily married her when she emailed back a lovely little reference the next afternoon.

Good luck with getting the rest of your letters!

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