Now I'm in a community college and I am trying to gathering recommendation letter to apply to graduate school.(I have already got my bachelor degree). I performed well in calculus and got an A in that course. After i got my grade, I wrote a thankful email to my professor and he replied me that I am the top student in his course. I thought he is nice. Therefore I asked him whether he can write me a recommendation letter to me by e-mail but there is no-reply. I considered if he didn't see my email, so I went to his office and wanted to see him in his office hour. His office hour was posted on the wall and on the schedule he said if anyone want to see him please notice him ahead of time. So I e-mail him again to ask for an appointment. Here is the content:

Dear Prof XXX: It's XXX, a student who finished your calculus 1 last semester. I went to you office yesterday and record your office hour on the wall. Would it be possible to meet with you next Monday 11 am (office hour) about whether you can help me write an recommendation letter?


He didn't reply me. I almost lost my confidence. I don't know whether I need to go to his office directly. I am afraid it's impolite or disrespect. And I don't know if he don't want to do it, why he praise me in the first thankful note?

Hope anyone can help me.

  • 1
    At least in the culture of Europe and the US, dropping by and asking politely will not be seen as rude, and the worst you can get is "Sorry, I am busy now, come back tomorrow".
    – Davidmh
    Jan 23, 2015 at 9:52
  • Probably just show up at that time. He might not consider it necessary to reply, since he does have an office hour then.
    – Tara B
    Jan 23, 2015 at 10:56

2 Answers 2


Your e-mail looks okay as an appointment mail. There are a few possibilities. The professor may be busy with some important things he has to do. He may be on vacation, not available. Please don't lose your confidence yet. You probably should wait a few more days for him to reply.

It is also possible that he didn't think an A in Calculus I is good enough for him to write a recommendation letter for you. He may want to wait until you get another A for Calculus II and then write a good recommendation letter.

However, depending on which field you are going to study in graduate school, the professor who taught you Calculus I may not be a good candidate to write you recommendation letters.

You already have Bachelors degree. I think the recommendation letters written by the professors in the university where you graduated from, who had more working experience with you would be more helpful for your graduate school application.


Honestly, it seems unlikely to me that any level of performance in calculus could be relevant to any graduate school admission process or prediction of success/failure. For mathematics or engineering or science, it's too elementary, by far. For non-mathematical things, it's simply irrelevant. In either case, the intellectual context of "calculus" is almost always too rudimentary, uncritical (whether or not there are epsilons and deltas). That is, at most, its intellectual context is that for students just beginning college, most likely disinterested in the subject, and most likely not really needing the content, either. And large numbers of students take such a course.

Thus, even a top grade in first-year calculus is not really a distinction in the first place, and is certainly not a good basis for letters of recommendation for grad school.

In fact, to have such a letter might be viewed as an indicator that you do not understand what the grad programs involve.

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