My former prof switched university and now I can't ask him in person for a letter of recommendation - should I try to see him in person? I've read on here that asking him via email might not be the best approach.

I could travel to that city - I have a friend living there - but it's not close and I am not sure how important it is I see him in person. I also don't want to annoy my professor with this, so I'm not sure.

The problem is only that it's been 2 years since I studied with him, and I did not do research with him, just submitted an excellent essay. So I think it would probably be good to remind him a bit of who I am. What would you advise me to do?

While "Should I ask my professor by email or in person", is related, it doesn't answer my question. I'm asking whether travelling to that professor in order to see him in person is overkill.

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    @SolarMike I think the other question is about phrasing the request, this is about visiting the prof. Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 13:40
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    @henning I did put "basically" - would have thought the OP would have sent the email by now and probably received the reference... Does this sound like an exercise in procrastination...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 13:43
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    Possible duplicate of Is it better to request a recommendation letter in person after class or by email?
    – Mad Jack
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 13:54
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    @MadJack This is closer, but there is no "after class" in the present scenario. Meeting the prof would involve travel. Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 14:00
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    @henning Then the question should be closed as "The answer to this question strongly depends on individual factors such as a certain person’s preferences ..."
    – Mad Jack
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 14:43

3 Answers 3


I don't think a visit is necessary (and I don't see where in the linked thread it says otherwise). Even if you were to visit him, you would contact him first to make an appointment, presumably by email.

Why not send a mail in which you both ask for a letter of recommendation and whether the prof would like to talk to you to refresh his memory (be it in person or on the phone)?

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    "be it in person or on the phone" or via Skype!
    – user347489
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 23:17

The question you link is about getting a letter of recommendation from a professor in your own university. In that situation, it makes sense to talk face-to-face. However, when the professor is in a different city, this is no longer necessary or even reasonable.

Honestly, I'd find it kinda creepy if you arranged a meeting with me and the smalltalk went

Me: So, how come you're in town? [Thinks: probably visiting friends or something and just dropped by because they were here.]
You: I spent two hours travelling here just to talk to you for fifteen minutes and, when we're done, I'm going to spend two hours travelling back.
Me: [Thinks, er, how do I say "You know about telephones, right?" without sounding like a jerk?] Um. ... ... Ookay.

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    haha, i love that! yeah, true! I do have friends in that town and will be visiting this year anyways, so I would have somehow arranged it that way, but you're so right. Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 20:50

If he is someone who is likely to write you a good LOR then he is unlikely to be annoyed by an email asking for that. Traveling there seems like overkill to me. On the other hand, if it is really, really important to you then it is unlikely to hurt to ask him in person.

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