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So, I asked a professor for a LOR and...

DarklingSunDarklingSun Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
edited April 2009 in Graduate School
Well I asked through e-mail, and I told her I would even send in papers from the class. She was my professor 2 years ago for a freshman English writing class. I felt like what I learned there helped to set the rest of my college experience.
She responded that her policy is that I will write the letter including my academic achievement and any thing from the class and that she will edit it. I do not think that I will go along with this, as it feels fraudulent. Please let me know what you all think, and if you have ever experienced this. I am actually quite disappointed as she made some memorable comments about my work. I do understand that there might be a part of the picture I am missing, perhaps she did not want to say no and this was a nice way...I mean it is a no really.
Post edited by DarklingSun on

Replies to: So, I asked a professor for a LOR and...

  • G.P.BurdellG.P.Burdell User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 2,294 Senior Member
    Even though she might have made an impact on you, you might not have made an impact on her. She's probably had 300 students since you've taken her class, so keeping track of everyone is difficult.

    As for writing your own reference, I've been asked to do that several times, even with people I knew very well. It takes a while to write a reference letter, and this is the "lazy" approach, especially if the reference doesn't have a clear idea of what she wants to write.
  • Schneider09Schneider09 Registered User Posts: 101 Junior Member
    I was shocked the first time I was asked to write my own rec letter. However, apparently it is quite the SOP in other places. Not only has it happened to me - for letters coming from my bosses, it also happened to my sister who was applying for a PhD.

    I would either find someone else if this makes you feel uncomfortable, or recognize that this professor has neither the time or the energy to fully remember all the work you did in her class. {don't think that its a bad thing - its just large universities are hard places}
  • Mr.ZooMr.Zoo Registered User Posts: 248 Junior Member
    freshman English class professor... they teach most amount of students with all kinds of backgrounds... please picture yourself in that situation, someone you knew 2 years ago asks you to write a LOR for him, not only you don't have clear memory about him, also there are 20 people right now asking you to write LOR for them, please be understandable

    plus.. what's wrong with writing your own LOR? I thought it's better than putting the quality of the LOR on other people's hand which you will never know what kind of words he/she puts down for you
  • belevittbelevitt Registered User Posts: 2,005 Senior Member
    This is particularly common for residents applying for fellowship. Unfortunately, this isn't that rare, even if the professor isn't a lazy shmuck.
  • Original NameOriginal Name Registered User Posts: 234 Junior Member
    Not uncommon at all.
  • AceflyerAceflyer Registered User Posts: 252 Junior Member
    Even though she might have made an impact on you, you might not have made an impact on her. She's probably had 300 students since you've taken her class, so keeping track of everyone is difficult.

    I second this. Particularly considering that this was a freshman English course and you took it 2 years ago... odds are she probably wouldn't remember much about you at all.

    I don't think it's inappropriate for her to ask you to draft the letter - after all, you'd probably be able to write a much more detailed and relevant letter than she would. And she is going to review and edit it before sending it out. I don't think there's anything inappropriate or unethical about this. However, as always, to each their own, and if this arrangement makes you uncomfortable, you may want to seek an alternate reference to use.
  • ticklemepinkticklemepink Registered User Posts: 2,764 Senior Member
    Freshman English class? Is this for graduate school or internship? If it's for graduate school, I would recommend moving onto a different professor who can at least remember you.
  • AceflyerAceflyer Registered User Posts: 252 Junior Member
    Freshman English class? Is this for graduate school or internship? If it's for graduate school, I would recommend moving onto a different professor who can at least remember you.

    I think the above is probably not a bad suggestion. For grad school apps, it's probably preferable to use LORs from profs you've done research for or profs who taught an advanced course in your major.
  • DarklingSunDarklingSun Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    This is for a summer program. Thanks for all the comments. The last time I asked for LORs was in highschool so I suppose I was just very surprised by this response. At least she is willing to put her name on it, huh. I am asking 2 other professors so I may not need to do this.
  • Professor XProfessor X Registered User Posts: 893 Member
    I had to comment on this, although I probably should not.

    Professors who ask students to write their own letters are irresponsible as well as lazy. Students are by definition unable to compose a good letter about themselves. They do not know about all the sorts of things need to be expressed in a letter of rec, or how to express these things effectively.

    If a professor asks this of a student, then the student needs to ask another professor who will take the task more seriously.

    [/rant]
  • BrownParentBrownParent Registered User Posts: 12,776 Senior Member
    LOR from freshman english seems a bit shocking, just not done. So you should have said in the first place that it wasn't for grad school.

    Like others here, I've had to do it for a promotion at work and it was ugly. The prof gave you a chance to show what you think she knew about you, at least.
  • jessiehljessiehl Registered User Posts: 3,328 Senior Member
    Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. If you can find another recommender, that's probably best.

    You can try asking her if she would be willing to write it if you prepared a packet for her that includes your various accomplishments and one or two of your best old papers from her class. She may just not remember you well after two years, and such a packet might remind her.
  • eva10127eva10127 Registered User Posts: 542 Member
    I have to agree with Professor X on this. I have never encountered a situation like this, but I would say to drop her off your list and move on to another. Since you're posting in the Grad school forum, I guessed you're applying for grad school? If so, a recommendation from a lower division classes professor is not good. You should ask professors of upper division classes.

    Assuming professors have written lots of LORs in their career, s/he should be very familiar with writing a recommendation. I don't see a reason for her to ask you to write it.

    From my experience, I got a letter from a professor who hardly know me, except for the fact I've taken 2 courses with him (and they're big classes of ~350 too). He wrote one for me with me providing him my SOP, CV, previous papers I've done, and my gpa. That was all he requested. (and yes, I've taken courses with him almost 2 years ago and I asked through email since I've already graduated)
  • ParAlumParAlum Registered User Posts: 439 Member
    I must second the comments by Prof X. it is quite common for professor overloaded by large classes and thus very large number of requests for LORs to have students write their own. However, as Prof X indicated, students are unaware of the criteria being judged in these LORs. Thus I concur that it is highly inappropriate for profs to do this. I usually judge this as a situation where a prof doesn't want to say no to a student, but clearly is not invested in the student. For my part, I do refuse to write letters of rec for students that I really do not know beyond a number in a course I taught in the past-simple reason: I can only restate what their transcript already provides!

    The clear solution is to approach a professor that you've had a much more recent and closer interaction with. I also realize that students in large universities have difficulty finding such opportunities. Hence the value of summer internships!
This discussion has been closed.