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rocky_fona


Mar 14, 2006, 9:50 AM

Post #26 of 333 (7744 views)
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Re: [clarabow] Two Questions About Letters of Reference [In reply to] Can't Post

I decided to wait until after the process is over. I don't know if that is right or not. I was just going to send thank-you cards, but now you have me wondering if I ought to do more.


simplythat


Aug 24, 2006, 2:05 AM

Post #27 of 333 (7588 views)
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Questions About Letters of Reference [In reply to] Can't Post

I graduated with a BA in English (Creative Writing) in 2005, from a decent school for CW (in the top 50 of the rankings, for whatever that is worth). Though I always did well in my classes, I wasn't overly active in the program and I didn't know my instructors very well. This has led me to be a little frightened of asking them for LoRs. I'm worried about whether or not they'll remember me, and if they do, if they'll remember my work.

Is it okay to attach an assignment I did in their class to the e-mail in which I ask them to be a recommender? Or should I just offer to send a sample if they want to see one?

On one hand, I think it may help jog their memory or at least make them interested in helping me out. On the other hand, they may just be annoyed that I'm clogging their inbox.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Aug 24, 2006, 1:14 PM

Post #28 of 333 (7563 views)
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Re: [simplythat] Questions About Letters of Reference [In reply to] Can't Post

How big were the classes? If they weren't too big (say, fifteen or fewer), there's a good chance that your teachers remember you. How well you did is a factor, too. I remember my good students from eight years ago, when I started teaching, but I've forgotten a lot of the bad ones.

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


simplythat


Aug 24, 2006, 7:52 PM

Post #29 of 333 (7534 views)
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Re: [pongo] Questions About Letters of Reference [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, the way my school worked is that often the main classes were big, and we would have a lecture/writing assignement with the instructor, and then we would break off into smaller workshop groups which were each led by MFA or MA students. The instructor would usually alternate weeks when coming around to the groups to observe, but all work had to be turned into the insturctor and the grad student.

So, I had interaction with the instructors, especially during weeks when they were present in workshop. They also always read all of my pieces and made comments....but they wouldn't know me as well as the grad students i worked with. With an exception of one person, I don't know where my grad students went...they've long graduated. I was just thinking that perhaps, since these teachers did read my work and comment on it, I might be more memorable in text given our program format.

I did reasonably well in all of my classes. In the class of one instructor I want to ask, I got an A. In another case, I took two courses, once with a grade of B...the other was a C, but only because she had an attendance requirement, and due to my job, I missed one extra class. She loved my work, but it was a policy thing, and she had to drop me a letter grade. In any case, I don't think the teachers will think of me and think about what a horrid student I was...I'm just worried that I blended in too much to be remembered without something to jog their memories.


(This post was edited by simplythat on Aug 24, 2006, 7:55 PM)


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Aug 24, 2006, 8:30 PM

Post #30 of 333 (7526 views)
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Re: [simplythat] Questions About Letters of Reference [In reply to] Can't Post

In that case, go to someone other than a teacher for a recommendation.

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


Fear&Loathing


Aug 31, 2006, 7:44 PM

Post #31 of 333 (7453 views)
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Re: [pongo] Questions About Letters of Reference [In reply to] Can't Post

Do programs open up a file immediately when recommendations are received (even if they are before you submit anything else? The obvious answer is yes. I expect some will start arriving before I've even opened an application in any other way.


__________



Aug 31, 2006, 8:43 PM

Post #32 of 333 (7450 views)
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Re: [Fear&Loathing] Questions About Letters of Reference [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's something I've been wondering about: will a program to hold onto your rec letters after you've been declined?

It's so difficult to get into the good schools, I wonder what those tenacious applicants, such as Adam Haslett, who had to apply to Iowa a few times, did about rec letters. I don't really want to suffer the humiliation of asking my profs to write another fifteen letters each year. Is it unheard of to simply ask a school to reuse them? Or should I ask my profs for a batch of letters dated for next year? It sounds comical, but hey...


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Aug 31, 2006, 8:48 PM)


bighark


Aug 31, 2006, 8:58 PM

Post #33 of 333 (7445 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Questions About Letters of Reference [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll be asking for my fourth round of recommendation letters this fall. You get over it.


bastedos


Oct 14, 2006, 5:44 PM

Post #34 of 333 (7344 views)
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Not completely positive LoR [In reply to] Can't Post

I got an email back from a prof stating that she will write me a LoR, but it can't be entirely positive. She said it won't be negative, but that she needs to be honest and state that I need improvement in some areas. She said she has good things to say about me as as student as well.

I already have three letters that will be very positve (two from senior-level English profs and one from an introductory writing instructor). She wants me to decide if I still want her to go ahead. I need opinions on this circumstance.


Elika619


Oct 14, 2006, 6:09 PM

Post #35 of 333 (7342 views)
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Re: [bastedos] Not completely positive LoR [In reply to] Can't Post

Bastedos,

This is just my two cents, but I would say if you already have 3 positive LoRs, I would just leave it at that. From what I know, most schools only require 3 letters. And while some give you the option of 4, if you don't think her letter would be 100% positive, I would just leave it out.

However, if I misread your post and you only have two letters (and need her for a third), I would say there's nothing wrong with constructive criticism.

Good luck! :)

Elika


bastedos


Oct 14, 2006, 6:34 PM

Post #36 of 333 (7337 views)
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Re: [Elika619] Not completely positive LoR [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, I will go with the three I already have. I don't believe that I made a good connection with this prof anyway. We didn't see eye-to-eye on writing. The writing she likes seems very ostentatious and melodramatic to me, where the writing I prefer is too outlandish for her.


In Reply To
Bastedos,

This is just my two cents, but I would say if you already have 3 positive LoRs, I would just leave it at that. From what I know, most schools only require 3 letters. And while some give you the option of 4, if you don't think her letter would be 100% positive, I would just leave it out.

However, if I misread your post and you only have two letters (and need her for a third), I would say there's nothing wrong with constructive criticism.

Good luck! :)

Elika



HopperFu


Oct 14, 2006, 6:44 PM

Post #37 of 333 (7334 views)
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Re: [bastedos] Not completely positive LoR [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd have to agree. I mean, gosh, if you already have three that you think are positive, why on earth would you use a fourth that is mixed?


cekroh
Clayton Kroh

e-mail user

Nov 14, 2006, 1:28 AM

Post #38 of 333 (7231 views)
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Re: Recommendations and reference letters [In reply to] Can't Post

The book and online resources on MFA applications I've looked into generally recommend you send out 8 to 12 applications. But I've run into an issue with this: Isn't that an emormous imposition on your recommenders? Even assuming they write just one letter and cut-and-paste the content into separate letters, and you've done all the envelope pre-addressing with postage to make it easy, there are still recommendation forms many schools want filled out.

I don't have a lot of people to ask for recommendations. I asked one of my recommenders about the number of applications; his response was I should have no more than 5.

So...do I just cut my number of school choices in half (and likewise my chances of being accepted to at least one program)? I can't really send this gentleman more than 5 now. I don't really have anyone else I can ask--I've been out of school for some time. And is springing this many letters of rec on my other two recommenders terribly presumptuous?

Has anyone else run into this problem? How'd you deal with it?


Glinda Bamboo


Nov 14, 2006, 12:24 PM

Post #39 of 333 (7204 views)
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Re: [cekroh] Recommendations and reference letters [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it was crappy of him to tell you that he only wants to send off 5 recommendations for you. Really, I don't see how doing 12 recs is so much more work than 5. Yes, they have to cut and paste and fill out forms, but most of those forms are brief and can't take more than a minute to fill out.

If you have 10-12 schools you actually would be interested in attending, you should definitely apply and not limit your options because of a lousy recommender. Maybe you can find another person to pick up the slack where this one recommender is cutting you short.

I feel like a major pain asking anyone for recommendations, but I didn't feel guilty at all about sending info for 10 schools. After they write the letter, the hard work is done. Plus, I figure it they are agreeing to the somewhat annoying task of recommending me in the first place, then they won't object to actually sending recs to all the places I'm applying.

I haven't heard of any other recommenders complaining about this, but I'm all ears if it has happened.


gblackwe

e-mail user

Nov 14, 2006, 10:55 PM

Post #40 of 333 (7155 views)
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Re: [cekroh] Recommendations and reference letters [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, likely it is more of an imposition to fill out 10-12 recommendation forms than 4 or 5. On the other hand, if you don't get in to any of those 4 or 5 schools, it will be yet more work for your recommenders to fill out all-new letters next year. I think that the advice (which I only came upon this year, unfortunately) to apply to ~10 schools is solid, and your recommenders will hopefully appreciate that improving your chances of furthering your education outweighs the annoyance of five more silly forms. Don't feel shy about asking now while you've got everything together, especially if you have the other recommendations in hand (or good as). Also, if you are really worried (or if your recommender is) about the number of forms s/he will have to fill out, call admissions offices and find out how badly they want their forms. The letter itself (which can easily be duplicated) is the most important thing, and that only has to be written once. Schools that are really strict about forms get them, and the others should be happy with a copy of the original letter. Honestly, if they like your writing, they should all be happy with a copy of the letter, as it will be the last thing they see before making their decision, and the one least likely to influence that decision.


laughingman


Nov 15, 2006, 2:27 AM

Post #41 of 333 (7142 views)
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Re: [cekroh] Recommendations and reference letters [In reply to] Can't Post

...I've heard of instructors just putting a single, diagonal line across the whole form and writing "see letter."

The forms, I'm sure, are much less important than the letters and probably only useful as far as putting your name/soc/DoB in the same envelope as the letter itself for identification purposes.

Ask the guy to make extra copies of the letter for you, give him the forms and envelopes, and tell him you really appreciate it.

Then worry about your writing sample.

Good luck,

laugher


Art
Arthur J. Stewart
e-mail user

Nov 16, 2006, 7:21 PM

Post #42 of 333 (7075 views)
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Re: [Glinda Bamboo] Recommendations and reference letters [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe he was just saying, it is better to send in applications to five places than to 12 places; it COULD be that he doesn't mind writing 12 letters, but rather, is just trying to offer good advice. I'd make the same recommendation, BTW. The "why" is, if you do your homework well in applying to five places, each of the five is more likely to be well-targeted and well prepared. IMHO, if you're strung out sending materials in to a dozen places, you're (a) shucking out copious amounts of cash in application fees and (b) more likely than not, depending on the shotgun strategy for getting in somewhere, somehow. The dozen-application approach does not give me warm fuzzies about the likelihood of application quality. Although, I am sure there are many notable exceptions....


Art
Arthur J. Stewart
e-mail user

Nov 16, 2006, 7:23 PM

Post #43 of 333 (7075 views)
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Re: [laughingman] Recommendations and reference letters [In reply to] Can't Post

" ...I've heard of instructors just putting a single, diagonal line across the whole form and writing "see letter."

Yep. I've done that. Letters are much much more useful than check-box forms.



libbyagain


Nov 16, 2006, 7:48 PM

Post #44 of 333 (7071 views)
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Re: [Art] Recommendations and reference letters [In reply to] Can't Post

I probably shouldn't generalize about professors and strategies for handling them, but I am one and know many and therefore I'll hazard a try.

It's really not the job of the applicant to make the professor's job any easier re. letters. I think the whole process is onerous, and that grad schools ought to adapt--for instance, somehow simply adapting to the application services that most schools offer, when they send a file containing transcripts and letters (and in that light, anyone applying should contact her/his last school attended and sign up for that service there, since most schools will do this for alums, no matter how out-of-date they are).

The professors put under stress by many requests can do several things, as far as I am concerned. 1. They can short-cut by crossing out tiresome forms and saying "see letter." I've done that, at times, and I think it falls under the category of t.t.w.t.b.b. (that's the way the ball bounces). 2. They can suck it up and devote several days to this task each semester, instead of, oh, say, abusing yet more grad student slaves and whomping up yet one more useless conference paper (sorry--I'm a tad pissed off at certain of my colleagues here in Singapore, who seem to make a career of doing mainly this, instead of teaching) 3. They can form a groundswell of protest that will cause MFA programs to streamline/alter/whatever their process to suit "overworked" profs.

My 2 cents.

Elizabeth


allisonbarrett


Nov 17, 2006, 8:53 AM

Post #45 of 333 (7033 views)
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wisconsin [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey, is anyone applying to Wisconsin (Madison)? It seems like you have to apply online first, and then they'll send a link to recommenders to submit letters online. The problem is that you have to submit your SOP online with the app, and mine isn't ready yet. I want to get this link to my recommenders though; I gave them the materials for all of the other schools. The deadline for Wisconsin is Dec. 15. Is anyone else having a problem with this? Is there some way to get the link for my recommenders before I submit the app?


bighark


Nov 17, 2006, 10:46 AM

Post #46 of 333 (7020 views)
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Re: [allisonbarrett] wisconsin [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Allison,

I don't recall having this problem when I applied to Wisconsin last year. If I remember correctly, the recommenders get an email as soon as you register them in the electronic application--the process is not tied to when you pay or submit.


allisonbarrett


Nov 17, 2006, 10:56 AM

Post #47 of 333 (7019 views)
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Re: [bighark] wisconsin [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks so much! That's exactly what I needed to know!


sarae


Dec 7, 2006, 8:47 PM

Post #48 of 333 (6899 views)
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Re: [libbyagain] Recommendations and reference letters [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I think the whole process is onerous, and that grad schools ought to adapt--for instance, somehow simply adapting to the application services that most schools offer, when they send a file containing transcripts and letters (and in that light, anyone applying should contact her/his last school attended and sign up for that service there, since most schools will do this for alums, no matter how out-of-date they are).


Regarding the service some colleges offer where they keep a file of letters of recommendation for you:

I have signed up for this service with my school, and so far have one letter on file. I'm wondering if MFA programs will be okay with receiving my letters from this service, instead of from me or from the recommender directly. Does anyone know? If it will be okay, then I will get my other recommenders to just send to my college as well, and things will be so much easier.


curban14


Dec 14, 2006, 10:41 AM

Post #49 of 333 (6802 views)
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Re: [sarae] Recommendations and reference letters [In reply to] Can't Post

hi, does anyone know or remember off hand where to submit the following letters of recs, a.k.a. Online or Snail Mail? iowa, michigan, syracuse, columbia, notre dame, texas (michner), johnny hop hop ?

I haven't had time to check yet but i'm thinking only about half are Online, which sucks.


ecphraticknolls


Dec 14, 2006, 11:27 AM

Post #50 of 333 (6796 views)
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Re: [curban14] Recommendations and reference letters [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I don't have all of those--since I'm not applying to all of them--but here are the ones I do have from my own research.

Iowa Writer's Workshop
January 3

The Writers' Workshop
102 Dey House
507 N. Clinton St.
Iowa City, IA 52242

University of Texas--Michener Program
January 15 is the received-by deadline
Form

UT Michener Center for Writers
702 East Dean Keeton St.
Austin, TX 78705-3201

University of Michigan
January 1, 2007 is the received-by deadline
Form

English Language and Literature--Creative Writing
3187 Angell Hall
435 S State
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003

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