February 23, 2017
Recommendations for Recommendations
How many times is too many times to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation? I often find out about opportunities at the last minute, but don’t want to burden my advisors with creating a letter for me at the drop of a hat. Is it acceptable to re-use a general one that was written for you? Is it an ethical violation to upload your own letter of recommendation? —Anonymous
(This week’s answer is courtesy of Rebecca Aanerud, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Planning)
It is fine to ask for a letter of recommendation as often as needed. Faculty recognize that providing letters of recommendation is part of our job. Most faculty will be able to quickly make any adjustments to a previous letter and so the time commitment is relatively small. That said, it is also completely fine to be direct and simply ask if there are limits or parameters on how many times to request a letter and within what time frame. You should not upload a general one unless you have permission to do so. If someone writes a general one, you should ask at that time if it is acceptable to use for future purposes without further permission.
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I have also had people request that I provide them with an outline or draft version of a letter of rec. for them to edit, saving both them time in drafting a response from scratch, and you from having to go through iterations until the desired theme, message, or key points are conveyed the way you’d like it to be.Comment by NG on June 5, 2017 at 2:38 pm