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Waive the right to see Rec Letter

  1. Sep 22, 2008 #1
    I heard this and I wanted to know if it held any merit.

    Assuming that all your recommenders are comfortable with you viewing their recommendation, does it lower the value of the recommendation letters sent to your grad school in which you are applying for if you choose to not waive the right to view the letter upon matriculation at that school?

    In other words, is the grad school going to frown upon you with the stink eye if you want to see your rec letters if you get accepted?
     
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  3. Sep 22, 2008 #2

    Pyrrhus

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    Waive it!!! Universities probably pay more attention to your recommendations if they think the people who wrote them were not worried that you would be reading them.
     
  4. Sep 22, 2008 #3

    symbolipoint

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    Do the writers of recommendation letters expect to become document copiers and envelope stuffers? The applicant student should be able to maintain his own collection file of application materials including recommendation letters so that he could send as part of application packages to any amount from four to 10 to maybe 15 different schools; if not accepted but basically qualified, would the applicant need to ask again after 6 months for new copies of recommendation letters from those same letter writers? Maybe mine is too extreme a view point. A recommendation letter should always contain contact information for a school receiving the application to call or write for further information about the applicant student.
     
  5. Sep 23, 2008 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    Another vote to waive it.

    Why do you need to see it anyway?
     
  6. Sep 23, 2008 #5
    No one needs to see it, but come on, you know you're curious about what the teacher wrote.
     
  7. Sep 23, 2008 #6

    HallsofIvy

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    I don't believe that Universities (or other entities) to which letters of recommendation are sent know whether a specific letter was written with or without you having the right to see it. I do know that some professors will refuse to write a letter of recommendation if you don't waive that right. If a student insisted that he/she be allowed to read the letter before it was sent, I might suspect that he/she was asking a lot of people for such letters, intending to send only the best. I hardly think that being "curious" is a good reason to refuse a professor the right to respond privately.
     
  8. Sep 23, 2008 #7

    mathwonk

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    the letter is most useful if it is honest and candid, which means the applicant should not have access to it. the letter is less reliable and less influential if the applicant sees it.

    any applicant who asks to see his letters is making a mistake and harming his application.

    the ability to resend letters is served by having a central storing house for letters in the university to which one makes repeated requests. Each time the applicant requests a copy of the letter it is sent by the staff of that storing center.

    There are also online storage centers for application materials, to which potential employers have access.

    Wanting to see your letters out of curiosity is unwise. If comments are negative they hurt your feelings, and if they are very positive they distort your sense of reality.

    If someone writes something very nice about you, often someone will come up and tell you, but it still doesn't do you any real benefit to know this.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2008
  9. Sep 23, 2008 #8
    I never said it's a good reason. I was just saying. I agree completely that a letter unseen by a student is the best kind of letter.
     
  10. Sep 23, 2008 #9
    Thanks for the feedback. Just for the record, it was never a question of should you waive it or not...only if waiving it or not has any weight with the school.

    I guess it' s just me hoping that we'd live in an ideal world, where if you didn't have anything nice to say about a student, then you should probably not agree to write a "recommendation" letter. Maybe some people never watched Bambi...who knows...
     
  11. Sep 23, 2008 #10

    Vanadium 50

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    Many letters point out both a student's strengths and weaknesses.
     
  12. Sep 23, 2008 #11

    Pyrrhus

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    daveyinaz, that's why you pick professors you know will write a good rec letter. Don't pick them randomly or whimsically. You must be sure the effort you put was very good and that they liked the quality of your work, before choosing them.
     
  13. Sep 23, 2008 #12

    mathwonk

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    the most useful and believable letter has both positives and negatives, or at least compares a candidate with others who are both above and below the present candidate in some ranking.

    Even if the letter is positive, we have so little objectivity about ourselves that if we see it we may think it is still not positive enough.

    the point is you want an honest letter, that way it will be believable and helpful.
     
  14. Sep 23, 2008 #13
    Would you rather know what they said or let the grad committee feel more comfortable about the validity of the letter and (maybe slightly) boost your chances at admission? Which is more important.

    Just waive it.
     
  15. Sep 23, 2008 #14

    symbolipoint

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    From Mathwonk:
    At least that is informative, in that it helps explain the "university letters", or "university reference file" which some kinds of programs and systems ask for.

    Some reference letter writers will ask the student or applicant about himself, even if the writer already is well acquainted with the student. The writer wants the student's description of strengths and weaknesses as a guide to writing the letter. It must be a chore for some reference letter writers to think critically of each persons value, accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses; so they want to student's or applicant's help on this, yes, EVEN THOUGH the writer is well acquainted with the applicant AND EVEN IF THIS WRITER IS COMFORTABLE RECOMMENDING HIM. That is likely just what sometimes happens when a reference has been comfortable with someones work but has not seen all of the details.

    One would assume that "university letters file" is part of a more formal, refined, and regulated system. More features about that might be interesting to know... Anybody?
     
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