A while ago I asked my boss to write me a letter for a specific school, and he responded asking me if I could draft it, and he showed me the edits and final draft before sending it out.

Now I asked him to send me letters for some other schools too and he agreed, I'm assuming he'll just use the same letter. But I just now realized that one of the schools explicitly states that I am to not be involved in the letter in any way. What should I do? Is this a common thing?

Should I just let it slide? How seriously do schools take this situation anyways? and from what I've seen from the letter I drafted it doesn't look like any sentences overlap with anything in my personal statement. I would also feel bad asking him to rewrite a letter thats already perfectly well written.

At the same time I just feel, well, kinda bad. Idk, not saying anything to my boss about the school letter guidelines doesn't sit right with me.

  • Sounds like your boss took your input and made their own letter out of it.
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 4 at 18:09

It’s best to behave honestly and ethically. It seems clear to me that you’ve been acting in good faith so far and cannot be faulted for the oversight of not noticing this one guideline among the many confusing hoops the grad schools tell you to jump through. And the transgression, such that it is, seems very minor to me — after all your boss took an active role in writing the final letter, presumably fully believes in its contents, and only showed it to you because he didn’t know it was forbidden.

Now, the key to handling the current situation is to keep the ethical bar high and not spoil things now with any shady or underhanded behavior. My suggestion is therefore that you send the guidelines to your boss and apologize for the oversight of not noticing this specific guideline before. Add that he should feel free to edit his letter again before submitting it and not show you the edits if he so desires. If you do that, you will be morally in the clear in my opinion, and would not have to worry about your boss developing a poor opinion of you if he were to discover these guidelines himself at some later point.

In theory you could also inform the school of what happened. If you do I am sure they will find the explanation satisfactory. And if so you will be going above and beyond what I’m guessing 95% of grad school applicants would go to the trouble of doing if they were in a similar situation.

Good luck!

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