I asked a professor for a recommendation letter last Thursday to apply to a certain grad school program (and others), and she agreed to do it. However, I received an e-mail yesterday from her that said that the deadline is too soon (I completely understand that I was irresponsible), and that she may not complete it in time. What would be a good/diplomatic way to respond? I do not want to give the impression that I'm forcing her to write the recommendation letter for me.

  • How soon is the deadline? Tomorrow? Do you have time to find a new recommendation? Would you have had time if she had said no last thursday? – T. Verron Dec 13 '16 at 11:42
  • Friday, although that doesn't change things much. I think I would've had time to find another referee by then, but now it's not feasible. – distlamer Dec 13 '16 at 11:43

Oy. [In the future, give people at least a month for this sort of thing] Here's what you can do. (1) Be very polite and thank her a lot. (2) Say that you would like her to write a letter and submit it when she gets the chance [perhaps late as needed]. (3) Email the grad department and say you're applying but one of your letters will be late.

Hopefully that works out at some level. A few things could go wrong with this plan of course, but it's worth a shot. In any event, be sure to thank the letter writer profusely before and after the fact. Cards are nice.

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  • That sounds like great advice, I'll try it. Thank you very much! – distlamer Dec 13 '16 at 12:34
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    @distlamer - And also do approach someone else, just in case. Perhaps this particular professor was planning on taking three weeks off right after turning in grades for the semester. – aparente001 Dec 14 '16 at 1:42

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