Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pseudo-productive things I did today

(That "s" in the title is misleading...)

During a lull in work this afternoon (not so much a "lull" as an "oh my God I CANNOT read/answer any more e-mails or I'll end up forking myself in the eye") I paid a courtesy call to Better Than U Grad School's online application. I took the opportunity to enter the contact information for my second recommender, Advisor Guy, whose assistant had just let me know that he'd be fine with using the website to submit his letter. I already had the go-ahead from Mentor Woman to enter her in last week, so aside from the (rather significant, natch) next step of getting said recommendations actually submitted, I've two down, one to go.

And that's where we have a problem.

My would-be third recommender, outside my discipline but quite relevant for my academic interests--and, most importantly, knows and likes my work--has gone on "deep leave." Meaning that she's not writing any recommendations unless prearranged. And I did not know this until I sent her an e-mail in mid-August and got an auto-reply saying as much.


I'm aware of how necessary it is for faculty to protect their research time, especially when presented with the opportunity to take a sabbatical--I don't want it to seem as if I'm not sympathetic to that. But, dude! AUGUST, and already no deal if not prearranged? Can't I get a grace period? A grandfather clause? I didn't even know for certain that I would be applying in this admissions cycle until a week before I e-mailed! (And I thought I was being good by asking four months in advance...)

All is not lost. She did write me a recommendation for something a few semesters ago, and I wrote a cordial and tiptoe-y e-mail asking if she might be able to find time to pull that out of the deep freeze and send it along, just change the dates or whatever. And, most charitably on her part, she did respond, though unfortunately to say that she hasn't been able to find it in her files. aaaaaaaaaaaaagh. So now what I do is pray that she stumbles across it before earlyish November, probably the latest I should be asking people for recs. (Unless any readers think otherwise...?)

This wouldn't be so bad but for the fact that she's basically the only person who knows me as an academic being from whom I haven't already requested a recommendation. I know other professors, in a few cases fairly well, but they have little experience with my work that was a) not mediated by TA grading, and/or b) the best stuff I'm capable of.

Presuming my would-be third doesn't find that old letter, I think what I'll do is schedule an appointment with Professor I've Assisted, From Whom I Took Two Classes, And Who Likes Me to talk more about my academic interests and plans for graduate work, and then hope that's enough for her to go on to write a compelling letter on my behalf. Although I accidentally saw a letter she wrote for me for another thing awhile back, and it was pretty "eh."

Of course, all of this probably doesn't matter, given that those first two letter writers are tenured members of the department to which I'm applying for admission--one of them actually being the guy I want to work with and have advise my dissertation.

Any advice, ether?

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Reductionism who in the what now?