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I've been out of undergraduate for several years and am applying to graduate school. However, I'm hung up on how to obtain the required letters of recommendation.

While I did exceptionally well in undergraduate, I am pretty introverted and I graduated awhile ago. I didn't cultivate deep, long-lasting relationships with any of my professors.

Since graduation, I have worked exclusively with individuals who speak minimal English and come from cultures where letters of recommendation do not exist besides, and with people who are living with extreme mental disabilities. In both of these professions, I have been my own supervisor.

Frankly, I am feeling very up the creek without a paddle. I don't know where I would be able to get one letter, let alone multiple. Is it possible to apply for graduate school without letters of recommendation? How do you go about compensating for this?

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  • Please ask only one question per post. Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 5:03
  • How many is several?
    – Dawn
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 5:09
  • This varies across countrires. E.g. in Germany, I'm not aware that any letters of recomendation are involved. Your Bachelor grades must be sufficiently good and that's pretty much it. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 0:11

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If it is within a few years, you may be able to contact prior professors that you feel may remember you.

Otherwise, if you do not think that you can produce letters of recommendations, then I recommend you contact potential graduate schools. In fact, I believe that you should always contact potential graduate schools BEFORE applying (no matter the circumstances.) This helps you understand what they expect, prepare for potential problems, and ask any questions that you may have.

In your case, they will be able to talk with you on how to “compensate” (as you called it) for your lack of letters of recommendations. I do not know what country you are applying in, but I know that in my country (America) there are admissions counselors per each school you are applying to (for instance, religious studies admissions counselor for somebody who is majoring in Southeast Asian Religions.) If that is the case with you, then make sure you contact the school rather than the university directly to get the best possible answer.

Every school, let alone university, operates differently, and there are some schools where it may be a nonstarter to apply and then there are others that you may be able to get a waiver and/or a probation easily. Honestly and again, your best bet is to contact potential graduate schools directly.

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You might get lucky if you look for them, but most programs will want recommenders who can speak to your abilities, and be able to overshadow shortcomings such as low GPA, etc. Not having recommenders is going to be a serious issue, even if you do find a program that doesn't require these recommendations, especially if you have a low GPA or some extenuating circumstance that would need to be explained.

If you are thinking of professors from who you would want letters of recommendation from, why not just ask them to start with?

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