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I'm applying to grad school, and I have 3 wonderful recommenders. The problem is this: I realized that I didn't notify my third recommender that I would require another recommendation letter (I added on a last application rather last minute). They have already left the country for research over break, and I honestly feel that it would hurt our relationship if I asked them at such late notice (as it quite frankly should). On the other hand, I would look incredibly ill-prepared if I admitted my predicament to my other recommenders.

Is it worse to notify them that I won't be submitting that application now or simply not mention it?

Unlike the other programs I'm applying to, none of my recommenders know anyone at this college, so I doubt they'd find out quickly on their own.

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    Did they already submit their letters? This would be somewhat unusual. These days, most grad school application systems generate an automatic email to the recommender after you submit your application, which allows them to upload their letter directly to the school. So if you don't apply, they'll notice because they won't get that email. – Nate Eldredge Dec 8 '16 at 2:34
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    Depends on the individual circumstances, but in your situation I would consider applying to that last minute place after all. This goes especially if the third recommender can submit their recommendation over the internet (and hence doesn't have to try to find a post office in a foreign country). Apologize, explain how you decided to add on a last minute application, and ask if you could possibly get one more letter. – Anonymous Dec 8 '16 at 2:36
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    But wait, I'm confused: you're actually considering not applying to a particular school because it would be too awkward to ask for a letter at the last minute? Don't let that stop you. Presumably your recommender already wrote the letter; it's a very small inconvenience to submit it to one more place. Takes like 3 minutes. They could be very slightly annoyed that you didn't tell them sooner, and you should apologize for that, but this isn't the sort of thing that destroys relationships. – Nate Eldredge Dec 8 '16 at 2:37
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    To add to and concur with Nate's comments, the big faux pas (that you might be confusing your situation with) is to ask someone at the last minute to be a recommender for you at all. A thoughtful recommendation takes time to write, and also if the recommender is abroad h/she wouldn't have the ability to refer to your written work. (This may or may not be relevant.) But if you have already applied to similar programs, little or no change will be required to his/her existing letter. Unless the circumstances are very different than Nate and I are imagining, I definitely encourage you to apply. – Anonymous Dec 8 '16 at 2:49

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