Late Recommendation Letters
If you're applying to a program or school, chances are they're not even going to consider your application until it's 100% complete. Unfortunately, you can only be so responsible when it comes to the letters of recommendation. If your professor or boss forgets to send in the letter by the deadline, it puts your whole application at risk. There are a few things you can do to avoid being penalized for their lateness.
- Ask early. Professors especially are notorious for being late on letters of recommendation. Giving them 3 - 6 months is a great idea, and reminding them a month before the deadline is paramount. These are busy people, and they might forget.
- Monitor your application. If it's online, check the status of your application often. If it's not, call the program a week or two before the deadline to make sure all materials are submitted.
- Check in. If you've been notified that your letter of recommendation letter is late, email your recommender immediately. State the facts, but don't be accusatory. Something along the lines of, "I received a call today informing me that my application is incomplete. I just wanted to check on the status of your letter of recommendation."
- Call. If you don't receive a response to your email, step it up to a phone call. Again, stick to the facts and don't lay any blame. Just see how quickly you can get the recommender to send in their letter.
- Follow up. Once you've gotten a hold of your recommender and you have a confirmed timeline of when they'll send their letter, follow up with the program. Check in to make sure that the letter has been received (and also ask how much wiggle room you have on the lateness of the letter). If the letter still doesn't make it in, call your recommender again.
Remember: it's better to get a slightly annoyed and/or rushed recommendation letter than to have your whole application dismissed for being incomplete.
Index of letter of recommendation templates