Asking for a letter of recommendation from a professor you don't know well in 2023 (Complete Guide)

Asking for a letter of recommendation from a professor you don’t know well in 2023 (Complete Guide)

When you want a letter of recommendation, you would mostly prefer the professors whom you know more than those whom you do not know much. But sometimes you may not get the letter of recommendation from those teachers due to some reason. In such a scenario you are only left with the option of getting a letter of recommendation from a professor who is not familiar with you. Of course, it will be tough as you don’t know much about them. Thus here we will guide you on how can you ask letter of recommendation from a professor you don’t know well.

Quick Takeaways

  • A letter of recommendation is a letter that is written for you by someone who knows you professionally.
  • If you don’t know a professor very well you must first try to contact them directly and ask for a letter of recommendation. 
  • Give them the proper details they need for writing the recommendation letter. Also, try to give them reminders so that you get them on time.
  • Try to avoid these three mistakes that most of the students do –
Simply asking
Thinking that your professors owe you a letter of recommendation
Getting impatient

However, you must read till the end so that you do not miss any important facts related to getting a letter of recommendation from a professor you don’t know well.

Asking for a letter of recommendation from a professor you don't know well in 2023 (Complete Guide)

What is a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is a letter that is written for you by someone who knows you professionally. This type of letter is written specifically when someone wants to recommend you for something. It could be anything including internship, graduate school, fellowship program, etc. Having a letter of recommendation helps to boost your chances of getting selected for a particular thing. These letters show your abilities related to the position you are applying for. Also, it will show why you are best for the particular position.

One thing that you must remember is that letters of recommendation are usually confidential and thus will most of the time be directly submitted to the authority where the letter of recommendation was to be sent. It means that you will never get to know what was written in the letter of recommendation.

Asking for a letter of recommendation from a professor you don't know well in 2023 (Complete Guide)

How to ask for a letter of recommendation from a professor you don’t know well?

Many students feel shy when asking for letters of recommendation from professors they don’t know well. In fact, there are students who lost their chance of getting admission, just because they did not have the right letter of recommendation. It becomes important for you to have the right letter of recommendation. As you don’t know them much, you must know how will you ask for a letter of recommendation from them because they are also your professional referees.

The first thing is to directly contact them or make an appointment with them to tell them you are in a need of letter of recommendation. Make sure that it doesn’t look like you’re only interested in getting the letter of recommendation. You can start by expressing excitement for the class you attended of them.

Once they are ready to write it you will then need to give all the requirements of your applications. Give them the details about you, the institution you are getting in, the course you have joined, etc. Try to add the details that you think will improve your chances of getting into the institution. Make a proper summary document that will help the professors to know about your achievements. Remember that they also don’t know you much and therefore you will need to share all your details with them. You can also try to add on the things that happened in the class to show them that you actually were interested in it.

Asking for a letter of recommendation from a professor you don't know well in 2023 (Complete Guide)

Sharing your resume and cover letter can help a lot to know about you. If it does not work you can also ask for a short meeting. Additionally, send them a lot of reminders so that will help them to complete your letter of recommendation. If you know where and when the letter is going you can also provide your professors with postage and address envelope. It will help to make the life of a professor easy as they only need to write it and mail it.

What are the common mistakes that you need to avoid while asking for a letter of recommendation?

Following are the common mistakes that you need to avoid while asking for a letter of recommendation from your professors-

1. Believing that professors owe you the one

One of the most common mistakes that students make is they believe that it is the duty of the professor to write letters of recommendation for them. You must remember that your professors are under no obligation that they have to write it. Most of the professors will write it just because they feel happy to do it for their students. Thus all you can do is request your professors to write it. It’s up to them if they want to write it or not. It shows that there is no guarantee that you will be hearing a yes from your professors. 

Asking for a letter of recommendation from a professor you don't know well in 2023 (Complete Guide)

2. Just asking for it

If you generally want a letter of recommendation from your professor you must make sure that you are doing everything you need to do. It means that you will need to be present whenever your professor asks for it. You will need to give all of your information to the professor. In the audition, you will have to take follow-ups with your professors. You may also give reminders to the professors to write the letter of recommendation and not just ask them to write it.

3. Getting impatient

When the professor is ready to write the letter of recommendation for you, you will need to stay calm and have patience in yourself. The reason why your Professor may be getting late in writing is that your professors have a lot of other work to do. The best thing you can do is to ask for a letter of recommendation a few days before the deadline for submission. However, another reason may be that you have not provided all the necessary details yet and therefore must check if all the details are right or not. 

Asking for a letter of recommendation from a professor you don't know well in 2023 (Complete Guide)

How to ask for a letter of recommendation from a professor in a short period?

If you are asking for a letter of recommendation in a short period you must choose the professor you know very well. It is because it will be easy to make them understand the problem you are facing. Also choosing the one whom you do not know much may find that you are not serious about and may not help you with it. Discuss the reason why you didn’t ask them before.

Do not give any invalid reason that will leave a wrong impact on your professor. Tell them why you are choosing them right now and you really want to get their letter of recommendation. Make sure you are not imposing anything on your professors and give them a chance to decline. It will help them to know that you respect their time. 

Can I ask for a letter of recommendation via email?

There is no harm in asking for a letter of recommendation via email but you must remember that asking them in person will have a good impact on you on them. However, it is not always possible and thus you are only left with the email option. Thus you can ask for a letter of recommendation via email. If your professor does not reply to your mail don’t worry. Wait for at least 48 hours as they might be busy with some work. If still do not get a reply, you can send them a reminder mail.

Conclusion

A letter of recommendation is a letter that is written for you by someone who can recommend you professionally. As professors are your professional referees, you can also ask for a letter of recommendation from you. You can even ask the professors who do not know you well. You must try to get an appointment with them and ask them to write a letter of recommendation from them. You must give them the important information that they can add to the letter of recommendation. Try adding your achievements that will help to improve your chances of getting into the institution.

Further, you must avoid some common mistakes that most of the students do like thinking that the professors owe you the letter of recommendation, and do not take follow-ups from them. Your professors may or may not accept your request and thus you must put all your efforts into asking it.

FAQs

How to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation in person?

Start by going to the person whose letter of recommendation you want. You must choose the right professor. Try to get an appointment from them. Tell them that you want to letter of recommendation from them. Be polite and nice to them when you ask for a letter of recommendation. Provide them with all the necessary details like your achievements that will help them to write a letter of recommendation for you. Once they agree thank them for agreeing to your request.

William Christie
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