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Any one out there use an online rec letter service?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by standoc, Mar 25, 2002.

  1. standoc

    standoc Member
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    Hey Everyone,

    A grad student in my lab was telling me about a recommmendation letter service that he used called interfolio.com. It seems they file rec letters like your typical college pre-profesional counseling service, only they are much more convenient to use since you can just go online and have them send rec letters to the schools you want with minimal hassle. Has anyone actually used this for med school? The grad student was applying for a clinical psych phD...I imagine the set up is similar for them and he said it worked great for him, but I would also like to hear from someone whos got experience with the pre-med process.

    Thanks,
    Standoc
     
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  3. Wahoo

    Wahoo Senior Member
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    Yep, I used Interfolio. In fact, this year UVA required all premeds here to use it. I found it was extremely fast and convenient, not too expensive, and some of my recommenders commented on how much they liked being able to upload their letter instead of mailing it. It's also nice because it makes it easy to track which letters you've sent where.

    Their customer service was good also. I emailed them once or twice, and both times got a response back within half an hour.
     
  4. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    Seems like an efficient method but a bit expensive. All told, I applied to 10 schools and had my recommenders (six different people) send 38 letters out (3 or 4 letters to each school plus some re-send for schools that could not find the letters sent). On Interfolio that would have cost over $200. For me to do it cost less than $20 in stamps and a couple hours of time. I would mail or deliver my recommenders Addressed/Stamped envelopes for them to mail letters in. As for keeping track, I just kept a log of everytime I did any action for any school.

    If you are only applying to a few schools or only have a single committee letter to send out than it seems like a great way to go. If you have a lot of schools that you are applying to, it might get expensive.
     
  5. oldman

    oldman Senior Citizen
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    i used my school's system. it was free and they mailed everything for me.

    if your school has a service, use it!
     
  6. E'01

    E'01 1K Member
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    Free??? Wow - my school charged me $500
     
  7. brandonite

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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    If I have to apply again next year ( :( ), I'll definitely use a letter rec service. I can't ask all the same people to send of another dozen letters... Besides, it's such a hassle, and there's always somebody who takes forever to get a letter out. <img border="0" title="" alt="[Frown]" src="frown.gif" />
     
  8. standoc

    standoc Member
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    Wahoo -

    That sounds really promising...just so I can get a ballpark figure, how many schools did you apply to, and how much did it cost you? I read the webpage and it said $12 setup, $5 per mailing; are there any other fees to be aware of? Also, did your recommenders have any issue with uploading the documents? Is there any difference in quality between the e-document and paper? I am leaning toward using it, although I believe I can use my own school's service free of charge. It really appears to make things a lot easier. Thanks taking the time to reply to my original post,

    Standoc
     
  9. standoc

    standoc Member
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    mpp -

    From my understanding of their policy, they charge $5 a mailing, one mailing being all the rec letters you want to send to a given school. So if you got all your rec letters together by secondaries time, you could send em all in en masse for $5, which in your case would come you to $50, + $12 for setup. Now, I can see what your saying about the re-sending letters being costly, thats why I hope wahoo can enlighten as about any additional costs that he experienced so we can get a better idea how feasible this option is. Thanks to all for replying,

    Standoc
     
  10. amp

    amp Member
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    At Stanford (is that where you are?) they have a pretty good rec. letter service. You have to set up an account and then have your letters sent there. It sometimes takes them a while to scan the letters into your file. Just keep calling them and eventually they'll do it. Then you can order as many copies of your letters as you want to be sent anywhere in the country free. If you need to rush letters you can pay $20 to have them FedEx'd. Not bad, didn't cost me a penny. Look for it on the career development center website.
     
  11. amp

    amp Member
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    oops, forgot to clarify. you order your letters sent online, and you can check to see which letters have been sent where and on what date. handy, eh? too bad it doesn't tell you when or if they arrived.
     
  12. Wahoo

    Wahoo Senior Member
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    Interfolio definitely did not cost me $200.

    I sent letters to 13 schools in all, but ended up making 17 mailings because I later decided to send an additonal recommendation to 4 schools.

    When I joined, Interfolio cost $12 or so to join and mailings were $4 each (it's since gone up to $5 per mailing). I'm not sure if it's still the case, but when I was using Interfolio last summer/fall the first FIVE mailings after signing up were entirely free. So, all told I spent the $12 registration fee + (12 mailings x $4) = a grand total of about $60 to mail 17 recommendation packages.

    The service was very fast-- all my requests were processed and mailed the by the next day at the latest, and oftentimes I'd submit my request in the morning and the recs would be mailed out that afternoon.

    I think there's also an option that allows you to send your recs via overnight service for an added fee, but I'm not sure because I never tried.

    Hope that answers your questions! If you need anything else, PM me.
     
  13. Wahoo

    Wahoo Senior Member
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    Oh, I forgot to answer a couple of your questions.

    I'm not sure about the print quality of the e-documents versus normal letters because I never saw my recommendations, but I never heard any complaints about them and I got interview offers at all the schools I sent them to.

    None of my recommenders mentioned any problems with the process, either. It's up to the recommendation writer whether they want to mail a normal letter in to Interfolio, upload it via the net, or fax it in.

    I think the best thing about Interfolio is that you can see exactly what time/date your recommendations were mailed out from Interfolio to the schools. So, no worrying about whether or not that Professor remembered to mail off the rec on time.
     
  14. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    Standoc, wahoo,

    You guys are right...sounds like a better option. It certainly hasn't been the first time I've been found to be penny wise and pound foolish.
     
  15. standoc

    standoc Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by amp:
    <strong>oops, forgot to clarify. you order your letters sent online, and you can check to see which letters have been sent where and on what date. handy, eh? too bad it doesn't tell you when or if they arrived.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Amp -

    Thats great dude, I didn't know the CDC had that kind of system. I just glanced at their website, and they indicated that they offer reference file services ONLY to students within 3 quarters of graduation or alumni...have you heard of juniors opening files with them? It'll be too late by senior year, but I wonder if they make exceptions for pre-meds...any input would be great.

    I am a junior at stanford, and most of my friends are pretty clueless about applying to m-school, so I could really use some advice from someone whos been through the process coming from stanford. I am talking to some research bosses from home during this break and having them send out letters, so i need to decide soon whether to use interfolio or stanford. I also plan to ask two science and a non-sceince prof at stanford for med schoool, all this quarter. What do you think is a good time frame for all this...how mcuh delay should i expect from the CDC, and how much work is it to get them to send out letters? Do you mind telling me if your in med school/ what med school your going to/ and any other impressions you have about the stanford pre-med system in general,
    thanks,

    Standoc
     
  16. Wahoo

    Wahoo Senior Member
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    Don't be so hard on yourself mpp, it seems to me like the two systems are almost identical. Only difference appears to be that the Stanford service is free. But maybe it's slower?
     
  17. Wahoo

    Wahoo Senior Member
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    Oops, I just confused mpp with amp. Your names are 66% the same, after all.
    Nevermind my last post :)
     
  18. amp

    amp Member
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    Standoc: hmm, didnt' realize there was a time limit on the service. my suggestion is to call up the cdc and ask them if you can open a reference file. If they say no I'd be pretty surprised. But if they do then use the other service. Just add that cost onto the enormous tab of applying to medschool and don't worry about it. But if you can do it free, why not?

    To get your file you have to fill out a form (I think you can download it and fax/send it back). it then takes a week or two to set up the file and have it accessible online. What really takes the most time, in my experience, is getting busy faculty to actually write a letter and send it in. They forget, they don't get back to you, they don't send it off, etc. etc. So approach them early. If you're applying next year, go see them either before summer or first thing next fall. Go visit them personally to ask them if you can. The CDC has a form that they send in with the letter (I think you have to sign it to to ensure confidentiality). Actually, this system makes it a lot easier for the prof. because they only have to write one letter. Just make sure they know that the same letter is going out to a bunch of schools, so that ucla doesn't get a "dear nyu" leter.

    Sounds like you're trying to get it done this quarter. Good for you, but you've got plenty of time to spare if you don't manage to get it done until fall. Profs can take forever on this. Give them two or three weeks at least, then keep bugging them. Once they send them in, bug the CDC instead about when they'll become available in your file. It takes a week or so sometimes. Then you can order away online to your hearts' content. You should know by now that the Stanford pre-med "system" is pretty loose and unorganized. This is nice sometimes because you're free to be a student of something else for a while; not just focusing on med school all the time. On the other hand, the advisors leave a lot to be desired. They don't seem to have any real knowledge to give, and they definitely can't write you a letter. As for me, I did it pretty much on my own and figured it out as I went. I graduated last year and am working at the hospital now. I'm pretty sure that starting in June I'll be at UNC chapel hill.
     

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