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Too busy to write letter, or just lazy

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m in the process of applying to law schools. Most schools require that you submit three letters of recommendation.

Last August I asked three former colleagues if they would mind submitting letters on my behalf. All three of them enthusiastically agreed. At the time, I told them that I would need the letters to be sent in around November, since admissions are rolling and I would have a better shot at acceptance if my applications were completed earlier.

It’s now approaching mid-January and none of my recommenders has submitted a letter.

While I understand that schedules are busy, final deadlines are in February, and I’m concerned that my applications will not be completed. I sent each of these colleagues a handwritten letter in August thanking them for agreeing to write letters for me and again in early December updating them on my progress.

What is the polite way to remind these people about the recommendations? If they no longer wish to write these letters on my behalf, I need to know as soon as possible so that I may find replacements.

GENTLE READER: Nobody is too busy to write a letter. Miss Manners keeps hearing that anguished cry – from bridal couples, from young people whose relatives shower them with presents, from friends of the bereaved – but it arouses no sympathy in her steely heart.

She has a pretty good idea of how these people spend the discretionary time that they grudge others – and many of whom have just spent time and thought on pleasing them.

In the case of recommendations, there could be another, equally culpable, element. It is possible that they didn’t want to recommend you, in which case they should have said immediately that they didn’t feel they could do you justice. But as they were all enthusiastic at the time, Miss Manners suspects the rudeness is due to laziness.

You have done all you can, except to find other letter writers immediately, and caution them that it must be done that very day to meet the looming deadline.


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