Struggling to get two academic references

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buenosdias
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I graduated a few years ago and struggled to get a job for a while so I volunteered instead. I'm currently working a cleaning job. I've decided I want to go back to do a masters. I have found some courses that I would love to do and I have the money to fund myself from my job. But they want two academic references and it has been a while since I left uni. I found out one of the academics I used to use as a reference no longer works at the uni and I don't want to submit an application with a dud reference. The other person that I used to use as a referee was my personal tutor but I haven't spoken to him in years now and I'm worried he won't remember me and I'm very anxious about annoying him. I could use a professional reference from my cleaning job but that seems subpar.Has anyone else been in a similar situation and struggled to get references? Any advice on how to move forward?
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by buenosdias)
I graduated a few years ago and struggled to get a job for a while so I volunteered instead. I'm currently working a cleaning job. I've decided I want to go back to do a masters. I have found some courses that I would love to do and I have the money to fund myself from my job. But they want two academic references and it has been a while since I left uni. I found out one of the academics I used to use as a reference no longer works at the uni and I don't want to submit an application with a dud reference. The other person that I used to use as a referee was my personal tutor but I haven't spoken to him in years now and I'm worried he won't remember me and I'm very anxious about annoying him. I could use a professional reference from my cleaning job but that seems subpar.Has anyone else been in a similar situation and struggled to get references? Any advice on how to move forward?
Academics will give references many years after the event, I've got references from 10 years previously, and I don't think that was because of any special relationship I formed. I wrote to two academics, one a Supervisor, and one not, just random lecturer I'd met a few times. I asked after their health/research, then introduced myself with a pen picture to give them the opportunity to recall me (course, dates, research title etc), explained what i wanted a reference for, and asked. The Supervisor remembered me and said yes straight away. The lecturer, very diplomatically asked for a coffee and a catch up (ie wasn't sure who I was), recognised me in the coffee shop and just wanted a chat about academic ideas to make sure he wasn't putting his name to a fruit-cake of an applicant (it was a big change in subject area, away from his).

The university will also usually write to confirm attendance, grades etc, ie give a technical reference in addition to the transcript.

Failing that, the admitting university may accept one non-academic reference. However, the referee still needs to be able to comment on relevant details, eg your ability to research, write papers, meet deadlines etc and I doubt cleaning bosses would be suitable for that.
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buenosdias
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Academics will give references many years after the event, I've got references from 10 years previously, and I don't think that was because of any special relationship I formed. I wrote to two academics, one a Supervisor, and one not, just random lecturer I'd met a few times. I asked after their health/research, then introduced myself with a pen picture to give them the opportunity to recall me (course, dates, research title etc), explained what i wanted a reference for, and asked. The Supervisor remembered me and said yes straight away. The lecturer, very diplomatically asked for a coffee and a catch up (I wasn't sure who i was), recognised me in the coffee shop and just wanted a chat about academic ideas to make sure he wasn't putting his name to a fruit-cake of an applicant (it was a big change in subject area, away from his).

The university will also usually write to confirm attendance, grades etc, ie give a technical reference in addition to the transcript.

Failing that, the admitting university may accept one non-academic reference. However, the referee still needs to be able to comment on relevant details, eg your ability to research, write papers, meet deadlines etc and I doubt cleaning bosses would be suitable for that.
Thank you for your response. You've made me feel a bit better about asking for a reference years after the fact.
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Keele Postgraduate
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(Original post by buenosdias)
I graduated a few years ago and struggled to get a job for a while so I volunteered instead. I'm currently working a cleaning job. I've decided I want to go back to do a masters. I have found some courses that I would love to do and I have the money to fund myself from my job. But they want two academic references and it has been a while since I left uni. I found out one of the academics I used to use as a reference no longer works at the uni and I don't want to submit an application with a dud reference. The other person that I used to use as a referee was my personal tutor but I haven't spoken to him in years now and I'm worried he won't remember me and I'm very anxious about annoying him. I could use a professional reference from my cleaning job but that seems subpar.Has anyone else been in a similar situation and struggled to get references? Any advice on how to move forward?
Hi buenosdias!

I was in a similar position when I applied for my MA - I'd had an 11 year break from full-time education and had been working full time. As threeportdrift has already said, your undergraduate university should still be able to provide you with a reference - they will have records of your grades and you'd be surprised how many of your former tutors might remember you, especially if you were an engaged and proactive student!

For my other reference, I was told I could use my most recent employer as it was more of a character reference than an academic reference, plus the skills you gain in employment are often very relevant to your ability to complete a master's degree (time management, time-keeping, organisation, attitude etc) - so it's worth checking with the admissions team at the university you are applying to whether you could so something similar.

Hope that helps and good luck with your application!

Amy Louise
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