Recommendations make me nervous
Recommendations are the one part of the application process where you are truly at the mercy of individual schedules. The control freak part of me panics at having to rely on others until the application process is complete. The best thing that you can do for your peace of mind is to 1) ask early and 2) remind often. Even though I requested mine a month ago, I am still waiting on a few letters because schedules fill up quickly and tend to change at a moment’s notice. Luckily, my earliest deadline is still a month away.
To avoid a midnight dash to the post office, allow at least a month for your references to complete your letters. Also, make sure to have at least one backup reference in mind in case one does not have enough time in their schedules. If your reference says that they are too busy to write a letter, if it is someone you know really well, you might want to think about offering to write the letter and asking them to review and sign it. Terrified about writing your own letter? Not everyone is a self-promotion guru. Check out your recommendations on LinkedIn to get a better feel for the tone of a recommendation.
Do your references a favor and provide them with your personal press kit. Send a draft of your admissions essay, most current resume, and other documents that might me pertinent. If your degree has a research focus, it might be good to send an abstract of a published paper.
I’m trying to take my own advice and remember that most people want to help other people. The logistics of getting recommendations might be troublesome, but people like supporting other’s endeavors.