(Closed) Iffy Letter of Recommendation- HELP!

posted 7 years ago in College
Post # 3
385 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

When I read it out of context, it seemed weird, but in context, I think she’s just being honest. It looks like a glowing letter to me. She follows that sentence immediately with more compliments. If you think that once sentence will ruin your chances of getting into grad school, I would talk to her about having it removed, but it doesn’t look like a huge deal? I haven’t graduated yet, though. What do I know?

Post # 4
1813 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

I agree with @Sutaru:  about how in context it’s fine.  In actual fact it may help you in an interview, because for certain you will be asked about it and you can put your story over and show your ability of getting tasks done regardless of obstacles you come across.  Get practising a reply to the anwser “What went wrong with that one group” so that when you’re asked you come out looking fantastic! 

Post # 5
2576 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I would say it is a pretty darn fine letter overall. 

Post # 6
3150 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2018

No one is perfect, tho I am not sure a LoR is when I want it indicated. That said, this is her true opinion & it would be rude to ask her to change. All we have is our reputation so I’m sure she doesn’t want to be seen as someone without insight into her students or as someone whose word does not carry a lot of weight. 

If you have a good relationship & she truly wants feedback I would explain that collaborative skills are very important & don’t want to give the incorrect impression that you are not a team player. 

Post # 7
13096 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

Sounds like a pretty glowing letter of recommendation to me!

And really, I’m shocked you have it to be able to read in the first place.  I’ve never been able to read a single letter of recommendation written about me.  They’ve always had to be sent directly by the recommendor or sealed in an envelope before returning to me to submit.

Post # 8
5095 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

As someone who has written letters of recommendation for college students:

The fact that she sent it to you to read over means that she trusts you and wants you to know that she is a strong supporter. That is a very rare course of action, honestly – I’ve never done that for my students, no matter how highly I think of them!

So I think it’s actually fine to ask her (respectfully, obv) if she would consider removing the caveat.  I would send something like this:

“Dear Professor ____,

Thank you so much for your incredibly generous letter of recommendation. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support and your kind words. I think the letter looks wonderful.

I had just one concern about the language in paragraph 2. I of course understand that you must be honest in your assessment of me. But given the circumstances of the problem that arose with that assignment, would you consider taking out that line? I am concerned that it might be a red flag for a committee member.

If not, of course, I completely understand. I greatly appreciate your taking the time to write this letter.



Post # 9
2261 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Depending on the school I think you’ll be fine. Honestly it sounds like a good letter and schools may WANT to hear anything negative a professor can say about a student. I think the letter made it clear it was simply a group that did not work well together… not necessarily you alone making it difficult (who HASN’T worked in sucky group projects?!) . 

If it really bugs you I would send that letter @mightywombat:  wrote. 

IMO though, saying the student had a bad group for a project really is good compared to other honest letters for other students. Sounds like you’re a capable person to me! I wouldn’t sweat it. 

Post # 10
9029 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

I dont see anything wrong with the letter. She is trying to sound honest which is more believable than to not mention any negatives at all, at thats not really a negative against you anyway..

Post # 12
487 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

If you read it in context, it matches with most of her other comments.  She’s very positive about you, but also very honest, which will appeal to someone reading recommendation letters.  So many are BS, so seeing something that is actually genuine is refreshing.  If you look, your work was ‘typically thorough and often went beyond’ and you were ‘sometimes a bit reticent’ as well.  This means she isn’t blowing smoke up their butts and calling you perfect.  She’s calling you human, and an above average one that she believes would be an excellent student at their school at that.

I’d ask why she chose to use the word reticent though.  Reserved seems to be such a better word considering it could be interpreted as you being more reluctant to work with others and needing a push to do it.

Post # 13
4518 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

@mightywombat:  Right.

OP, I think it’s fair to raise your concerns with her. She says your work was “typically thorough and often went beyond the rudimentary requirements,” but you got 100% (an A+?) in her class? Her description there sounds to me more like the description of a B student. 

Still, I think it’s an awesome letter, and her honesty makes it all the more powerful. 

Post # 14
2606 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

She was sometimes a bit reticent, but on the whole she had good communication skills and participated fully in class activities. With one exception of a group that did not work well together, MissDW was typically a good team player who got along well with her peers


This sounds like a good opportunity to spin the “tell us what your biggest fault/challenge is” question.  You can refer to this line, and explain what steps you’ve taken since to improve your communication within a group.

Post # 15
3461 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

Studies show one negative thing in a LoR is better than 100% positive, because people are more apt to believe it then.  So from that perspective, it may not be bad to have in there.  I wouldn’t ask her to remove it, but you could always ask her to elaborate further – perhaps the group dynamic was unsuccessful but regardless you all got the task done and earned As.  Removing it seems to be censoring her honest impression.  I’m also surprised she phrased it as “rudminentary” requirements if you were getting 100%, but it’s not worth asking a change – they will see your grade.  Perhaps could ask her to add a line which compares you to your peers, if you will stand out favorably.

The topic ‘Iffy Letter of Recommendation- HELP!’ is closed to new replies.

Find Amazing Vendors