So early onto my undergrad, I knew I had to find 3 professors to use for letters of recommendation, but given the schedule these professors have and how many students they have to deal with, I find it to be almost impossible to find more than 1 professor that can vouch for me, especially after that long gap between taking their class and applying for grad school during my final year. I can simply just reach out to the ones that I got an A in, but I'm not their only A student and they likely forget who I am.

Add in the factor of the professors not being able to reply to my email and you are left with stress. Can anyone help me figure this out? I feel like this is by far the most difficult aspect of the application.

Also, how can you use professors for letters of recommendations if you decide to take a break between grad and undergrad?

  • Did you really mean to say "professors not being able to reply to my email"? Do your professors not have email? Are they conducing field work in a remote and electronically inaccessible location? Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 18:07
  • 1
    Do you have any research experience? I used people with whom I worked on research projects during undergrad, not random lecturers, because they wouldn't know enough about me to be able to say much, in most cases. If you don't have research experience, did you have any smaller research projects for your degree for which you had a supervisor? Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 18:19
  • @DaveLRenfro I meant to say at least not fast enough for me to submit the app by Jan 3. They are usually busy with other things. Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 21:11
  • @lafemmecosmique I am a CS major and our university does not put emphasis on research as much as it does for group projects. Opportunities to work with a professor on something in state universities is typically come once in a blue moon. Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


First, I wouldn't make the request via email, although it would be a good idea to request a meeting via email to discuss your plans. We may not be able to put a name to a face from an email, but if you make a point of visiting and reminding them of the course(s) you took with them and how you did, that would go a long way in tweaking their memories. Second, come prepared. Bring copies of your transcripts, your resume (which should include work and volunteer experience), and a clear idea about what your plans are, including with who and what you plan to study. Finally, give the prospective reference time to prepare a good letter (a month is usually the minimum) and a clear deadline for when the letter is to be submitted by. (As a side note, I assumed your comment about professors not being able to respond to your email simply meant they hadn't gotten back to you.) Good luck!

  • Currently, I am on 1-month winter break. I am not sure how quickly they can reply to my email. Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 21:10
  • 1
    To state the obvious, it would have made things easier for you if you had contacted the professors before leaving on your break. Even though students are on a break, that doesn't mean the faculty are. Contact them soonest and set up a time to meet, apologize for the short notice, and go prepared. At this point, that's all any of us here can recommend.
    – Inde
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 0:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .