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>3 letters?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Mountain Cow, May 10, 2007.

  1. Mountain Cow

    Mountain Cow 2+ Year Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    I should have 3 solid letters of reference to go with my application. I know people who are willing to write me more, but since they do not know me as well I am a little hesitant. Are 3 good letters sufficient, or should I get more?
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  3. solitude

    solitude Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 27, 2004
    I was only planning to have 4 letters (3 profs and then my PI), but my pre-med advisor said that more are better, and that I should get 6 total. Admittedly, the additional 2 recommenders do not know me quite as well as the others. To (hopefully) make up for this, I gave them copies of my PS, a CV, research proposal, etc. and met with them at length.

    Take my anecdotal info for what you will.
  4. jeniffer lopez

    jeniffer lopez La butifarra 7+ Year Member

    Apr 23, 2003
    I only had four because my school's premed committee had a limit in the number of letters to be sent out, even though I considered it unfair to MD/PhD students. They did not bend their rules, and I ended up using only those four. Nobody ever asked me why I had so few...not even the places that required a letter from every single PI. However, I must say that they were few but very strong, according to my interviewers. Like you, I had other profs that offered to write me letters after classes were over, but I did not include them because I only wanted people that knew me as a person outside of the classroom. I hope this helps.
  5. PBandJ

    PBandJ hot dog back in action! Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    I think three really good letters could be sufficient. It definitely couldn't hurt to have more, but only go for it if you think you can get a great letter.

    Just experience was that some schools required that combined-degree applicants solicit a letter of recommendation from each research mentor with whom you have worked.
  6. Maebea

    Maebea Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 10, 2003
    East of Eden
    As someone who has to read all those letters, I would say that unless a program requires otherwise, you should stick to letters from research mentors and a letter from someone who can write about you outside the context of the lab. More is not better, and after the fourth letter the admissions committee's interest wanes. The only exception would be if your letter writers are chemists. Letters from chemists tend to be just one or two paragraphs and are skimpy on details about your personal characteristics. If you only have letters from chemists, you need to get a letter from somone who can talk about you as a human being. (Biologists are much more susceptible than chemists to logorrhea, and will write lengthy descriptions of a student's ineffable qualities that wil "make her an asset your program.")

    Letters from parents, siblings (I kid you not), sunday school teachers, etc., are not helpful to admissions committees. If you worked in your mother's lab, there is probably no way around the need to have them write a letter for you, but otherwise you should avoid anyone who cannot be expected to give a reasonably objective opinion of your abilities.

    Schools may have different requirements for letters of recommendation so you should determine what you need to do for each institution. Just remember that more is not better.
  7. solitude

    solitude Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 27, 2004

    Interesting--think I should scratch those last 2 letters even if they're very strong?
  8. bubbachuck

    bubbachuck Fear denies faith 10+ Year Member

    Jul 10, 2005
    i think you get to rank your letters in the order in which they appear? if so, then i would recommend you leave them as the last two but only if they're "very strong".
  9. solitude

    solitude Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 27, 2004

    Are you referring to ranking the letters for HPAC, or is this standard for secondaries as well?

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