Academic References for post graduate study

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Bains15
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Hi

I've been trying to get onto a couple of courses over the last two years, they are quite competitive and so far have not been successful. Having to submit a new application each year is not the problem. My biggest issue is requesting an academic reference from my old supervisors each time I apply. It's becoming a bit of a nightmare as my supervisor has now left and there is only one person that has agreed to writing my reference for the third time (very reluctantly) and he barely knows me. The whole system seems to be a bit flawed here as such a simple thing is likely to put people off applying for postgraduate study as supervisors are technically not obliged to provide a reference. If I don't get onto the course again this year, I genuinely don't think i will get a reference again next year so that could be it. I have asked my referee to save it on file but they never get around to doing it and have asked the univeristy if i can submit the orevious years reference but it has to come from the persons e-mail. Any advice on how to manage this situation would be greatly appreciated.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by Bains15)
Hi

I've been trying to get onto a couple of courses over the last two years, they are quite competitive and so far have not been successful. Having to submit a new application each year is not the problem. My biggest issue is requesting an academic reference from my old supervisors each time I apply. It's becoming a bit of a nightmare as my supervisor has now left and there is only one person that has agreed to writing my reference for the third time (very reluctantly) and he barely knows me. The whole system seems to be a bit flawed here as such a simple thing is likely to put people off applying for postgraduate study as supervisors are technically not obliged to provide a reference. If I don't get onto the course again this year, I genuinely don't think i will get a reference again next year so that could be it. I have asked my referee to save it on file but they never get around to doing it and have asked the univeristy if i can submit the orevious years reference but it has to come from the persons e-mail. Any advice on how to manage this situation would be greatly appreciated.
The bigger problem is why do you need to apply for the same postgrad course again and again and what are you doing in between? You need to get some feedback and work out why you are not getting on to the course so that you can work out what you need to do to strengthen your application. There's nothing wrong with the system as if you met the entry requirements the first time you wouldn't have to keep applying.
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Duncan2012
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The biggest issue is almost certainly not the reference. Have you been doing things to improve your CV? Have you asked the university for feedback on your applications?
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username2789280
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As above, if someone is reluctant to give you a reference - perhaps because it's your third time applying - that speaks to much more fundamental issues with your application.

I would 1) start looking at other similar courses that are perhaps better suited or maybe more realistic choices, 2) go through your application with a fine-toothed comb and assess exactly where you're going wrong, 3) bin it and write it again from the ground up and 4) try and cultivate, if you can, another referee.

Your previous supervisor having left shouldn't be an issue - if they think you are cut out for this course, they should be willing to write you another reference regardless of where they're based, unless they've retired and sworn off academia forever. I'm also 95% certain that your previous references will indeed be 'on file' somewhere, even if it's just at the bottom of someone's email outbox. They shouldn't be too hard to find. I suspect there's some choice information left out here. If you're finding it this hard to get academic references, it sort of suggests that your current application or academic track record thus far isn't up to scratch. Do you meet all of the stated entry requirements?
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DannyDB7
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I would have to agree with the above statements about the sole issue not being the references...I know that people often apply for PHD's and almost never get accepted first time...for some professions they insist of work experience so, maybe that might help"

Just wondering, does the application allow you to upload references yourself? I know for some I applied for it did, but the uni I wanted to go to required them to log in themselves. If it does, why not request that the tutor send you a copy of the reference, I informed my tutors that I was applying for multiple institutions and so, they gave me letter headed copies. If you have these then you can apply multiple times without bothering the tutors
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