I saw my Grad school letter of reccomendation and the school knows.
May 28, 2013 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Is this going to be counted against me? Should I take any action?

I received a very nice letter of recommendation from an associate and professor which should have been private and unseen by me. He emailed the letters to the schools and CC'd me. So the schools know that I have them. They don't necessarily know that I had seen them prior to his submission. For all they know, the first time I saw the letters was this morning in his message. They may not even take notice of my name in the email CC line. They may just print the attached letter and put in my file for review by the submission committee.

I'm really worried. Is this going to have a negative effect?

I think I know the answer, but should I take in action and address the situation? Tell them I was copied but hadn't seen them previously. I think I already know the answer and it clearly is NO. Let it ride and don't call any unnecessary attention to it.

What say you guys? Thanks.
posted by Che boludo! to Education (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't imagine why this would be a problem, as long as the schools received the recommendation directly from your professor. Congratulations on receiving such a glowing reference!
posted by anonnymoose at 10:12 AM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't think they're supposed to be secret, I think they are supposed to be unhandled by you so you can't alter them. Unless you hacked your instructor's email account, no harm has been done.

I wrote all my own recommendation letters, at my instructors' demand (this is how it was done for everyone). I provided the stamped, addressed envelopes. This was in the dark ages when they were physical objects.

Do you have anything that says you're not supposed to know the content of your recs?
posted by Lyn Never at 10:13 AM on May 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

The point of having the LOR go unseen by the student (with all the "X has waived his right to see this letter" verbiage that goes with it) is to protect the recommender's ability to write a negative letter, as well as to prevent tampering by the student.

Lots of people see their own LORs--in fact, many busy supervisors/advisors actually have the student draft their own letter which they will review and modify as needed.

As long as the email submission of a LOR was OK by the program's guidelines (i.e, it wasn't supposed to be uploaded to a secure website or placed in an envelope with a signature across the seal or anything like that) I don't think you have anything to worry about.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 10:15 AM on May 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: The directions only say that the letter must be submitted directly by those making the recommendation.

Maybe tomorrow I will play dumb and send an email asking for confirmation they were received.
posted by Che boludo! at 10:22 AM on May 28, 2013

You don't need to send an e-mail. What happened is normal and fine.
posted by munyeca at 10:30 AM on May 28, 2013 [14 favorites]

Nobody cares that you were cc'd a copy of this letter. Seriously, this is totally fine, just don't even think about it any more.
posted by windykites at 10:32 AM on May 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

I didn't waive my right to see my letters, but I only asked to see them from the program to which I was accepted after I had enrolled.
posted by brujita at 10:39 AM on May 28, 2013

If they really cared, they would have a more secure way for your recommender to submit the letter. Like, I've had places that required a hard copy in an envelope signed across the seal, or places where there was a secure upload form. If they haven't bothered to request those things, it's safe to say they don't care. Also, waiving your right to see them means exactly that - you have waived your RIGHT to see them. So you can't go to the school and demand to see your rec letters. It doesn't say anything about whether or not your recommender can show a letter to you.

(Also, they don't care. Seriously. The letter was submitted directly, which is what the directions say. Definitely definitely do not email them about this - then you'll be making yourself a PITA and a time-suck, which no one wants.)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 10:44 AM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

As a data point, when one of my employees was applying to a grad program at ASU, the system they used for the recommendation system indicated that the candidate had elected to NOT see the letter of recommendation.

Point being, nothing to worry about, no need to send a follow up email.
posted by disillusioned at 10:50 AM on May 28, 2013

This is not your professor's first rodeo. Don't worry about it.
posted by rocketpup at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2013

Nth-ing no-one will care, and telling you very firmly not to write an email that is not only disingenuous but transparently so. Having seen it isn't going to be a problem, but there's an outside chance that pretending you haven't seen it will be. Leave it, forget it, it's done.
posted by howfar at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2013 [9 favorites]

You clearly stated the requirement, above, which in NO way says you're not to see the letter. To be candid, if you make a fuss you will merely be showing the committee that you did not understand the instructions, which might count against you.
posted by janey47 at 10:58 AM on May 28, 2013

Maybe tomorrow I will play dumb and send an email asking for confirmation they were received.

Others have said this, but I'll put it in bold:

If they ask whether you saw the letters before the admission decision was made -- which I strongly doubt -- tell them, "Yeah, they cc'd me." That's it. Don't offer any more on whether you discussed the letters beforehand or anything like that. Just let it happen. This is in no way a stopper, but dissembling about it could easily become one.
posted by Etrigan at 11:19 AM on May 28, 2013 [9 favorites]

The only risk you run here is in over thinking things to the point where you do something dumb like acting like you don't know whether the letters were sent right after you got cc'd on the letters. Getting cc'd makes you look like a trustworthy and responsible adult. Overreacting to getting cc'd might make you look kinda weird and easily freaked out. Just let it be.
posted by hazyjane at 11:31 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's fine. If the professor didn't want you to see the letter, he wouldn't have CC'd you.
posted by zachlipton at 11:43 AM on May 28, 2013


You've got to calm down!

Okay, you're fine, it's perfectly cromulent.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:56 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

The unsaid part of this is that if the prof didn't want you to see the letter, the only correct response to your request for a reference letter was "No, I'm afraid I cannot write a reference letter for you".

Putting you in CC is so that the prof can be sure that you understand that a) he/she knows how this works and b) that if it doesn't work out, it wasn't his/her fault or the fault of the letter he/she sent.
posted by mikel at 11:56 AM on May 28, 2013

My professors all asked me if I wanted a copy of it.
posted by cmoj at 1:16 PM on May 28, 2013

Response by poster: Don't I want to follow up with the school to make sure they received them anyway? I was planning to do so this afternoon before I saw I was copied.
posted by Che boludo! at 1:19 PM on May 28, 2013

Don't I want to follow up with the school to make sure they received them anyway?

"Dear Admissions Representative:
I believe my application for [program] for [academic year] is complete. Is there anything missing or anything else that I can provide?
Che boludoi"
posted by Etrigan at 1:25 PM on May 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

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