In my reference my tutor has put down that he recommends me with reservation. Is that a good thing? What does "recommend with reservation" mean?

Thanks everyone for your help. I spoke to my referee and he realized he had made a typo. I have contacted the universities and told them. They have given me an email address for my referee to submit his reference again which I have passed on. The rest of the reference letter was amazing and I am sure that the admission tutor would have picked it up as a typo and would have rung up my referee.

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    That sounds like a horrible thing to say in a letter of reference.
    – xLeitix
    Feb 25, 2015 at 13:28
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    This is absolutely not a good thing; reservation means that the tutor has reservations about your qualifications, but sees potential. Therefore, he recommends you under the assumption that you can be qualified for a position, but asserts that you are not yet qualified.
    – Yasha
    Feb 25, 2015 at 15:11
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    "reservations" means "concerns" Feb 25, 2015 at 19:59
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    with versus without - close enough?
    – corsiKa
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:27

1 Answer 1


No, it's not a good thing. With reservation means that there is a some reason not to recommend you.

However, "recommend with reservation" is an odd turn of phrase. I suspect it is a typographical error and should read "recommend without reservation" - which is a good thing. If this is a typo, it is a seriously unfortunate one and you should definitely ask your recommender about this (particularly if you don't know what his reservation could be).

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    @user99865 then I am willing to bet it is a typographical error. It sounds like the type word omission mistake I would make. Because "recommend without reservation" is such a common phrase, I read the title of your post wrong the first time I saw it.
    – JP Janet
    Feb 25, 2015 at 12:50
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    I think if the whole letter is positive, the readers of other universities probably would also guess that's a typo and they may contact your tutor directly for clarification. But normally blind reference is much preferable, so if you have read the reference letter, that seems the university you are applying to do not consider the reference super important...
    – ceoec
    Feb 25, 2015 at 13:03
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    I have certainly heard the phrase "recommend with reservations" used, so in my opinion this is quite an unfortunate and dangerous typo. If every single other bit of the letter is positive a logical reader will have to suspect it's a typo or that the writer is not so reasonable....but this would be well worth arranging to get fixed if possible. (It's also not worth stressing out about: this is obviously not your fault. See if it can be fixed, but don't lose sleep over it.) Feb 25, 2015 at 13:52
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    By the way, the phenomenon of someone who should know infinitely better putting a stupid typo into a highly important (to the recomendee) letter: so much more common than you might think. Feb 25, 2015 at 13:58
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    One way to approach the letter writer would be to ask what is meant. If "with" was intended, the student needs to know the nature of the reservation to see if it is fixable. If it is a typo, asking the nature of the reservation would caller the writer's attention to it. Feb 25, 2015 at 13:58

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