I had a student in one of my courses that for every graded assignment would come to me and challenge the grade given, even though I provided a rubric to show exactly why the points where taken off.

For one of the last assignments, which was a class presentation, this student went off into another topic and for half of the presentation time essentially filled the time with an interesting topic, that unfortunately, although interesting, was not what the assignment for the presentation required. There were other problems with the presentation, which I outlined in the rubric, but twice the student came to me to challenge the grade, because they “worked so hard on the presentation,” and that they “did cover what was required” and did not deserve a B (which in retrospect, should have been a C), I explained why again the student got the grade they deserved…and after a while the student saying that they did not agree, left.

But then on the following class, the student came to talk to me about their grade again and was even somewhat aggressive towards me, and very confrontational raising their tone of voice and won’t give up on the point that s/he deserved an A. I said that I would be happy to grade the presentation again, but that I was often very lenient and that the grade could either improve/or decrease if I were to grade it again. The student then gave up, and said that s/he would focus then on the final paper and asked whether I give full points (100) in the final paper, to which I replied, “yes, if you exceed my expectations.” (haven’t graded this assignment yet).

Well, a week went by and then this student asks me for a letter of recommendation! Granted s/he currently have a A- in my course, but after the way the student spoke to me, with complete lack of respect, I was very surprised that s/he would ask for a letter.

…and at first the student did not want to waive their rights to the letter, claiming that we had to sign the page “together” whenever they would pick up the letter. I explained that the student could actually fill out the top part, if s/he wanted to waive the rights, and I would fill out the bottom part, include the form with the letter in a sealed envelope. But that if s/he did not want to waive the rights, that would be fine as well, and I would just sign the bottom part…then the student decided it would be best to waive their rights…

I am now in the process of writing the letter and was wondering if anyone was ever put in the same situation, and what did you do? This is a good student, however, clearly lacks respect for their professors. Any advice/guidance/help? How/Should I mentioned this in the letter?

I’m getting ready to apply for a graduate program in biophysics at a few different universities. I’d just like to ask a question regarding the quantity and quality of letters of recommendations.

I’ll first give some background about my current application. I have a 3.0 cumulative GPA (there is a valid reason for a few low grades early on in my career which I won’t get into here, but my GPA has increased dramatically since then), my physics GRE score is a little low and my general is above the 55th percentile in all three fields.

I have two strong letters of recommendation. One from the director of my lab, and one from the head of experimental physics at my university. My question is regarding a third letter. Most applications state that 3 letters are required. I have two options for the third letter at this point; the first being from my advisor, who I’ve never taken a class with but knows me well, and the other is from a professor who said he’d write me one but it wouldn’t be very strong as he can only discuss my character and, to quote him, “general interest in science”.

I’m afraid that a third letter would hurt my application, regardless if two of the letters are strong. How damaging would two letters be in applying to a physics graduate program?

Thank you.

I sent a reminder email one day before the due date for a couple of my applications to grad school. It said something along the lines of

This is just a reminder that first due dates are tomorrow: [list of a
couple of schools]. Hope you aren’t too busy to write still. If you
haven’t received an email from these schools on instructions let me
know.

I also sent “resends” to this professor’s email via the schools’ application portals. The professor responded with something like

You’ve already sent a list of deadlines [I did, but this was about a
month ago]. It is not helpful to send repeated reminders.

I thought it was standard to send reminders before deadlines, especially if due dates are tomorrow with no letter sent. I feel that I have said or done something wrong. How can I prevent this from happening in the future?

I am now not only reluctant to send reminders for January schools, but I am now worried about the strength of this professor’s letter. I have four letter writers, and I am tempted to drop his letter on some January schools. The reason for this is that this is not the only time he has been a bit snappy with me, although never like this. But I did tell him a while ago that I did not want his letter if it would not be strong, and yet he still agreed to write for me. So assuming he is honest about that, I feel I should maybe keep his letter.

This is all a little confusing and stressful. Thanks for your time to read.

I’m getting ready to apply for a graduate program in biophysics at a few different universities. I’d just like to ask a question regarding the quantity and quality of letters of recommendations.

I’ll first give some background about my current application. I have a 3.0 cumulative GPA (there is a valid reason for a few low grades early on in my career which I won’t get into here, but my GPA has increased dramatically since then), my physics GRE score is a little low and my general is above the 55th percentile in all three fields.

I have two strong letters of recommendation. One from the director of my lab, and one from the head of experimental physics at my university. My question is regarding a third letter. Most applications state that 3 letters are required. I have two options for the third letter at this point; the first being from my advisor, who I’ve never taken a class with but knows me well, and the other is from a professor who said he’d write me one but it wouldn’t be very strong as he can only discuss my character and, to quote him, “general interest in science”.

I’m afraid that a third letter would hurt my application, regardless if two of the letters are strong. How damaging would two letters be in applying to a physics graduate program?

Thank you.

What I mean is, are there cases in which a professor might decline writing are letter of recommendation for a PhD program, but would accept writing such a letter for a student applying to a MA or MPhil programme? Is the professor seen as vouching for the student more, when he writes a letter for a PhD program than when we’re talking about MA or MPhil programs? Or is there virtually no difference?

My friend is on his way to graduate with PharmD (outside US). He wants to apply for PhD program in US, and have asked his professors that he has worked with in the lab for recommendation letters. However, his professors refused to write him a recommendation letter unless he stays in the lab for 1 more year after graduation to work with the current on-going project (2 of them refused, another one has written him a recommendation letter).

The professor also belittled him when he asked for the recommendation letter, saying things along the line of

Am I, or this university not good enough for you? You must be pompous
for wanting to go to another university.

That particular professor has also shared the rumor in the department that he thinks he is too good to be part of this university. In the past, they have offered him PhD program with scholarship, but have later retracted the scholarship so he rejected the offer to stay with them. He needs the recommendation letter to apply for PhD program.

What can he do when professors refuse to write recommendation letter for him unless he works with them longer? He definitely do not want to stay in that toxic environment anymore.

I am a non-physics major applying for Ph.D. programs in Physics. I need to choose between an LoR from a Professor who taught a Quantum Mechanics course in which I was in the top and an LoR from a Professor with whom I have electronically interacted regarding my re-derivation of a result in one of his papers. My grades in my major are moderate but my Physics grades are good and thus, I feel a course-related LoR would remedy my non-physics major and average grades if the Professor states I did better than the rest of the class which comprised of both graduate and undergraduate physics majors. On the other hand, the Professor whose paper’s result I have re-derived is a more senior Professor and did his PhD from a US Ivy league school and his LoR would prove that I have the potential of initiating independent research.

I cannot accommodate both of them since my other LoRs are from people I have more closely interacted with and I think they will be stronger than these two. Maybe I should add that none of my other LoRs talk about any of my course performances and thus, I am worried that my average major grades might be a big concern for people in the selection committee.

Edit
The Professor whose paper’s result I re-derived is not a co-author. I did write a paper about my results and submitted it to a Journal and the process involved many discussions with the Professor and he reviewed the manuscript etc. but he is not a co-author. Another thing, I already have an LoR from a co-author Professor from a different paper–but as I mentioned, none of my other LoRs talk about my course performances. Would it carry weight if my co-author Professor (who is from my Institute’s Physics department but has not taught me a course himself) comments about my course-performances in his letter? If it carries enough weight then I would let go my course LoR and would take the LoR from the Professor whose paper’s result I re-derived.