I am an undergraduate student studying in the U.S. and applying to graduate programs. One of my reference letter writers agreed to write me a letter, and we have talked about my application plans about a month ago. However, as I followed up the messages regarding the links to submit letters and asked him if he has received the link, I didn't receive any response. The deadline for submitting the letter is approaching, I know it's a busy time of the semester, but I'm still a bit worried about the letter.

Is it a good idea for me to try to find him in person and ask if he has received everything? Am I expected to prepare him a small gift to show I'm thankful for his help? Thanks!!

1 Answer 1


I don't think a gift is appropriate for this, but, yes, it is appropriate to contact them in person. That is better than an email, actually.

Many people put off writing/sending letters until the last moment. One reason is to let thoughts about the student wander around in the mind to get the tone right. Another reason is just too many other deadlines. Most people will get it done on time, but a reminder is useful and helpful.

But, for me at least, you saying thanks for help now and over the years would be much more meaningful than a gift. There are cultural norms, of course.

  • 2
    A gift would also be more appropriate after the letter-writing process is over and you know the results of your applications. Giving a gift before the letters are written is a little too close to a quid pro quo for my comfort. Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 16:55
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    @MichaelSeifert, and even better a year or so later, when you have some success to report back.
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 16:57

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