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What should I do if my recommender declines to write a letter?

It can be frustrating when a recommender declines your request for a letter. Here are some steps you can take to navigate this situation:

Understand the Reason (if possible):  If appropriate, politely inquire about the reason for their decline. This can help you determine the best course of action. Perhaps they feel uncomfortable writing a strong letter, or their workload is overwhelming.

Respect Their Decision:  It’s important to respect your recommender’s decision, even if it’s disappointing. Remember, strong recommendation letters require time and effort on their part.

Explore Alternatives:  If possible, identify alternative recommenders who can speak to your qualifications and potential. Consider professors from recent courses, supervisors from previous internships or volunteer work, or professional mentors.

Act Quickly:  Don’t delay! If you need to find a new recommender, reach out as soon as possible. Provide them with relevant information about your goals and the program/position you’re applying for to help them write a compelling letter.

Focus on Positive Relationships:  While being disappointed is understandable, maintain a positive relationship with your original recommender. Thank them for their time and consideration.

~ Remember, while a declined recommendation can feel like a setback, it’s crucial to be proactive and explore alternative options. 

By focusing on building positive relationships and providing your recommenders with the necessary context, you can still secure strong letters of support for your applications.

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