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Professor not willing to send letter of rec

  1. Feb 11, 2012 #1
    Hi all,

    I asked the professor I've been working with if he's willing to write a letter of recommendation for me (I'm applying to REU programs). He agreed and I've submitted two applications so far(one at my current university where I'd be working with him, and one at a different university). He told me he isn't willing to recommend me to any other REU programs.

    Can anyone explain to me why?? He already has the letter written, so it's not like it would be too time-consuming to submit the letter.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 11, 2012 #2


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    Unless your professor happens to be on this forum, I don't exactly understand why you think we'd be able to explain this. Why don't you just.... you know, ask him?
  4. Feb 11, 2012 #3


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    Frankly, Why do you want a rec letter from someone who refuses to send one? It doesn't look like it will be a good rec letter.
  5. Feb 11, 2012 #4
    I've been working with him for a whole semester and he's the one that encouraged me to apply to summer research programs.
  6. Feb 11, 2012 #5


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    - He's really expecting you to get (and take) the one working for him.
    - If you've ever written reference letters before, you'll know that even if it seems like a matter of putting a different name and address on a generic letter, if often isn't. If you actually want the student to be successful, you need to look up the program he or she is applying to and say something intelligent about why you feel the student is particularly fitted for that program/course/scholarship/etc. That takes time.
    - There could be political reasons that you're not aware of. Maybe he has had students in the past persistantly requesting letters and to be fair about the whole think he has a self-appointed rule that everybody gets two and that's it.
    - Perhaps he doesn't hold you in that high regard and maybe you don't want him sending out reference letters on your behalf.

    Obviously, he's the only one who can give you his true reasoning.
  7. Feb 11, 2012 #6
    Thanks for your response. Would it be rude to ask him?
  8. Feb 11, 2012 #7


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    Maybe, Maybe not. It depends on how well you know him. We do not know him.

    In my opinion, if a professor refuses to write a recommendation letter, I would just find another professor that knows me well. Do not think Why this happened to me?, this is not so uncommon. It depends on a combination of the quality of your work, the personality of the professor, and many other factors. Choppy provided a reasonable list of reasons. However, we can only guess why.

    If I were to hazard a guess, VERY SPECULATIVE GUESS, it seems that He is a tad selfish, and probably He wants you to stay and finish some more of his research work.
  9. Feb 11, 2012 #8


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    No, not if you do it in a nice way. Make sure you heard him right (you can even ask if you heard correctly that he doesn't want to write a rec), then ask him if he'd share his reasons with you.

    I have sometimes declined to write a recommendation when I don't think the candidate's work for me was very good. I always tell them my reason, but it's awkward and maybe this prof just couldn't bring it up.
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