One year earlier I did a project under a Professor, I asked him for a recommendation letter for an internship program, but I couldn't get selected. Then this year I asked him for an internship program but he politely rejected me saying that it would affect if he give a lower rank to a student like me(He give rank to students and then send recommendations). Now since I am going to apply for graduate school programs that also seem to ask for referees, should I ask the same professor for the recommendation? He knows me well from classroom as well as project work.

  • 1
    I don't understand your comment about the rank. He ranks all the students in your class, and then provides this rank in his letter? And he declined because he thought your rank was too low for the letter to help your application?
    – cag51
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 2:02
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    @cag51 Out of all the say three students who ask him for the recommendation, he ranks them based on their achievements. For internships, he only writes for two or three students. And he declined because he had better candidates than me.
    – Mirae
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 2:14
  • @cag51: I've had professors who did the same thing. I've even had professors who noted on the syllabus: "If you get a grade of at least X, I'll give you a recommendation." Typically, this only happened in very large class sizes graded on a curve, making it roughly equivalent to the approach taken by OP's professor, albeit starting from a pool of all students rather than only students asking for a recommendation.
    – Brian
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 16:56
  • 2
    Of course you can ask him to write a recommendation letter, but it probably would be best to ask if he'd write a favorable letter. Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 13:27
  • @Brian Yeah, I guess one should just ask another professor in minecase. @A rural reader Thank you for your advice.
    – Mirae
    Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 15:13

1 Answer 1


Ask someone else

It sounds like the professor has already told you no.

  • That is the thing, he declined the internship program which is like a month, but I now want to ask for graduate school. I understand that recommendations for internships and admission in graduate schools can be two different things(The second one being most important). That is why I was confused.
    – Mirae
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 4:40
  • 6
    @Mirae - sounds like he doesn't want to help you. Stop going back for more punishment. Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 5:31
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    There is nothing like punishment, sounds like you are joking or something.
    – Mirae
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 8:05
  • 5
    @Mirae: He told you no and he told you why. None of the reasons he gave you are amenable to being argued. Don't try to convince him to change his mind: A good recommendation needs to be enthusiastic.
    – Brian
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 16:48
  • 5
    @Mirae "going back for punishment" means that the prof tells you he doesn't want to support you and you go back to pick up that same negative message again and again. It's a way of speaking. Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 15:44

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