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I just realized that I forgot to mention an important detail to my professor, who already submitted his recommendation.

Is it typical to update the letter, given that the piece of information is very important?

  • I can’t comment on “typical” but in most of it all of my applications, once something is submitted it is locked. You can always ask admissions, but I don’t think it would be possible. – Frank FYC Jan 1 '18 at 12:40
  • @Frank FYC If the systems allows it? – SuperHeroY Jan 1 '18 at 12:48
  • If the application system allows it, if there are no penalties, if your letter writer is willing, if it is not past the deadline, then why not? If it is as important as you say it is, and the costs are well... insignificant, then update it. – Frank FYC Jan 1 '18 at 12:50
  • @FrankFYC "if there are no penalties" How I can know that? – SuperHeroY Jan 1 '18 at 12:53
  • Ask the admissions office. As far as penalties, it would depend, a late letter might delay review of a complete application, which might affect funding, etc. if it is as important as you say and there aren’t any discernible risks, then what’s stopping you? – Frank FYC Jan 1 '18 at 12:56
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Let me be direct here: You are already asking your professors a big favor for writing these letters for you. It is your job to give them all relevant materials up front, and if you fail in this, then you'll have to figure out a way to fix this yourself -- for example by writing to the department where you are applying, putting this information into your statement of purpose instead, or in some other way. You are overtaxing your professor's goodwill by asking him to go back, rewrite the letter, find a way to get that to the departments he sent his letters to, etc.

All of this is of course independent of the actual possibility of updating a letter of recommendation. In most cases, professors get a link to a website where they can attach a letter, and this link becomes dead either once the letter is submitted, or once the deadline for these letters passes. It may become exceedingly tedious to find a way to update a letter once that is the case.

  • Thanks a lot but to the university I am applying the link seems to be still valid. Do you think updating the letter can have a negative impact on my chances, if the professor is willing to help? – SuperHeroY Jan 1 '18 at 19:06
  • No, the selection committee is not going to care when the letter came in, why it was updated, etc. There are no negative repercussions other than you asking too much of someone who in all likelihood has too much to do already. – Wolfgang Bangerth Jan 2 '18 at 5:21

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