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So here's the thing - I think that this professor could give me an excellent LOR. I think he knows me well and considers me intelligent and engaging to the classroom discussion

However, I only made a B- in his class, actually my lowest grade.... mainly from not studying. Do you think this will be a problem or should I go for it?
It depends on how well the know you. I got a B+ in my Genetics course, even though it was taught by my PI who knows me very well. He wrote me a letter and I have two IIs in September.

Coincidentally, I have an A in Biochem, but I would not ask the professor for a letter. Not because she would not see me as intelligent, but because she she does not know me very well


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ndafife

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So here's the thing - I think that this professor could give me an excellent LOR. I think he knows me well and considers me intelligent and engaging to the classroom discussion

However, I only made a B- in his class, actually my lowest grade.... mainly from not studying. Do you think this will be a problem or should I go for it?
Is he going to be able to attest to you being a good candidate for medical school?

Being intelligent and engaging is something I look for in someone I'm getting a drink with. It doesn't make that person qualified to be a doctor.

Its hard to look past the B- for me when getting a LOR.
 
May 21, 2016
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Is he going to be able to attest to you being a good candidate for medical school?

Being intelligent and engaging is something I look for in someone I'm getting a drink with. It doesn't make that person qualified to be a doctor.

Its hard to look past the B- for me when getting a LOR.
See I think your wrong here. It is a huge testament to your character and academic ability if you can get a professor to write you and outstanding LOR when you didn't do exceptionally well in his class.

I made a B in a population genetics course taught by the head of the biology dept. and he wrote me a strong enough letter that I have two IIs this early in the cycle. It's all about rapport, personality, and if you improve down the line.


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JPS398

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Is he going to be able to attest to you being a good candidate for medical school?

Being intelligent and engaging is something I look for in someone I'm getting a drink with. It doesn't make that person qualified to be a doctor.

Its hard to look past the B- for me when getting a LOR.
get over yourself.
 

ndafife

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See I think your wrong here. It is a huge testament to your character and academic ability if you can get a professor to write you and outstanding LOR when you didn't do exceptionally well in his class.

I made a B in a population genetics course taught by the head of the biology dept. and he wrote me a strong enough letter that I have two IIs this early in the cycle. It's all about rapport, personality, and if you improve down the line.


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You also had the PI connection on top of that, didn't you?

I just question if the only connection is "He was good in discussions in this class he got a B- in" would be enough to pull a good, strong letter. But again, I just know the 2 sentences OP posted about his situation.
 

mw18

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I think it would be a bad idea. A worse idea would be getting letters that aren't strong. I would prioritize familiarity over excellence grade-wise, but it just doesn't seem like the best idea. If medical school wasn't an academic endeavor then obviously you would. But a reader would question how much he believes what he is writing if you have the attributes he is saying you do for medical school success that didn't translate to being overly successful in his course. Just my opinion.
 
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You also had the PI connection on top of that, didn't you?

I just question if the only connection is "He was good in discussions in this class he got a B- in" would be enough to pull a good, strong letter.
The B- is questionable, but I think it is feasible depending on the course. Like I think they might be more lenient and willing to write the letter if it was for a particularly difficult course.


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aldol16

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I think if the letter turns out great it could be a strength because it 1) provides context for your grade and 2) shows that you can and have grown academically. However, you should be certain that the letter will be good and not lukewarm - otherwise, it may not be worth it.
 

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I had a dear professor whom I received a B- from Bio, but I had some pretty medicine-related deep chat with her in OH and we had a good relationship. However, I have decided not to ask her for LOR (it was a painful decision). I don't want to put her in an uncomfortable spot.
 
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yea if you want a character reference that is great to ask from someone that knows you but I would advise you to seek a faculty member in where you got an A. Surely if you are applying to medical school, you must have someone. I ended up contacting a professor with whom I took a class 3 years back and while I had to call and email countless times before reaching them, they remembered me because I went to office hours and excelled in their course. I don't know if I would advise you to do the same but basically I just sent them a description of what I had done after their class and how medicine was something I am prepared for based on my course history. The professor was so nice about it and actually treated it as part of their professional duty. Before this, I didn't know who could shed light into my abilities as an academically sound student and I knew I wanted someone from the hard sciences rather to exemplify my greatest potential. This world truly surprises you. The people you expect the least from end up helping you the most.
 

samsam66

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what if you're a non trad who is never seen in class....i basically don't attend
 
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what if you're a non trad who is never seen in class....i basically don't attend
you might want to start on it. Apart from that advice, it's up to you to approach a professor that gave you a good grade and ask if they could arrange an office meeting where you could tell them about yourself and how you studied for their class. It won't be a strong letter (who knows, some professors can go beyond expected) but if you are desperate and running for time, it's your best approach.
 

MareNostrummm

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A B- in a class means that you were not able to master all of the major topics taught throughout the course. I could easily understand getting a letter of recommendation for a B+, but a B- isn't even a 3.0 gpa... its like saying you approve of someone who failed to fully understand one of the core concepts that was tested on.
 

zurc2014

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See I think your wrong here. It is a huge testament to your character and academic ability if you can get a professor to write you and outstanding LOR when you didn't do exceptionally well in his class.

I made a B in a population genetics course taught by the head of the biology dept. and he wrote me a strong enough letter that I have two IIs this early in the cycle. It's all about rapport, personality, and if you improve down the line.


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This. I made a B in Molecular Genetics and the teacher wrote me a super strong letter (yep, she let me read that bad boy), and I made As in biochemistry 1 and 2 but would not even consider asking him for a letter. I think my letter has a lot to do with my IIs as well since she is known to write great letters (everyone she has ever wrote a letter for has gone to medical school, n=~15).

get over yourself.
This. Don't see how a student making a B- will make them not qualified to be a doctor. Life happens...but then again, I am on SDN so....
 
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zurc2014

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Ok, Im not going to lie. When I first read the title I thought that this was dumb and of course you can get a letter with a B-. You do not need a freaking A to get a strong letter. But now after reading all of these comments, I see why people log on and ask these ridiculous questions. You guys are really making people paranoid with your ill-informed responses. I have read ALL of my letters. They are all strong as heck, they even embellished a bit. But the B- was by far my strongest letter. OP, don't be fooled by sdn and think a B- wont get you a letter, <30 wont get you into medical school, <3.99 is a poor gpa, ect. You are fine. Ask for the letter :)
 

zurc2014

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A B- in a class means that you were not able to master all of the major topics taught throughout the course. I could easily understand getting a letter of recommendation for a B+, but a B- isn't even a 3.0 gpa... its like saying you approve of someone who failed to fully understand one of the core concepts that was tested on.
No.
 
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Greg K

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Have you spoken to the instructor about what kind of letter they may write you? I had an LoR written by one of my instructors in who's three classes I received B's and B+'s. I truly considered them a mentor who changed my life, and when I asked them for the letter I sheepishly mentioned to pedestrian grades. The instructor made it clear their LoR wasn't going to be about the grades in the classes, but instead about the how hard of a worker I was, that I came to ever office hour and worked with other students, and in an incredibly challenging academic environment found a way not just to survive but also continually improve. Having visited some schools, I think these are qualities they value especially give how all medical school curriculum's have overwhelming amounts of information and most are P/F grading; they want to see academic grit. Talk to the instructor about the content of the letter, if they're talking about the B- you might want to move on, but ideally they should be talking about you more than the grade.
 

mistafab

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I love this scenario in my head. This would be the student talking to the potential LOR writer:

"Hey there. I know I've shown you that I'm a hard worker, and I know you know I am. I just want you to know that I am completely inept so I got a B- in your course despite my work ethic. Yes. I am so inept that despite all the time I spent in your course, I did poorly in your class. Please write a letter saying something about how I am a good person who works really hard - i'm just not equipped to get higher than a B- in the course you taught."
 
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Jordan95

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So here's the thing - I think that this professor could give me an excellent LOR. I think he knows me well and considers me intelligent and engaging to the classroom discussion

However, I only made a B- in his class, actually my lowest grade.... mainly from not studying. Do you think this will be a problem or should I go for it?
Why would you pick the professor of your lowest grade class for a LOR? Don't you have any other science classes?
 
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TheBiologist

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Why would you pick the professor of your lowest grade class for a LOR? Don't you have any other science classes?
because the fact that I made a low grade was merely because of laziness, not because of who I am as a scientist ; what I was trying to get across was that he knows me, he knows I know what I"m talking about and I believe he considers me intelligent and creative; whether I made an A or an F in the class

To put in perspective, in high school I made a C in AP chemistry for not turning in any work; I got a 5 on the exam because I had a conceptual understanding of the material. That teacher was one of my 2 recommendations for college because I knew that HE knew my intelect/knowledge and that I was just a bit lazy - and now I go to a top 25 research

the fact that I didn't do anything for the class (not turning in HW, not finsihing labs etc) has nothing to do with who I am as a chemist, if you will

EDIT: and for the record, he wrote my recommendation before he knew my AP exam grade
 
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TheBiologist

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I love this scenario in my head. This would be the student talking to the potential LOR writer:

"Hey there. I know I've shown you that I'm a hard worker, and I know you know I am. I just want you to know that I am completely inept so I got a B- in your course despite my work ethic. Yes. I am so inept that despite all the time I spent in your course, I did poorly in your class. Please write a letter saying something about how I am a good person who works really hard - i'm just not equipped to get higher than a B- in the course you taught."
but read my last post in response to jordan95 - I got a B- out of laziness, and I believe that he knows that it was just that. In other words, I would assume he could say something about my "aptitude". sure my achievement was below par, but I actually think he could write me a very good recommendation. and maybe I'm wrong, there's always a chance I could be misinterpreting things/over confident, but....
 

ndafife

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but read my last post in response to jordan95 - I got a B- out of laziness, and I believe that he knows that it was just that. In other words, I would assume he could say something about my "aptitude". sure my achievement was below par, but I actually think he could write me a very good recommendation. and maybe I'm wrong, there's always a chance I could be misinterpreting things/over confident, but....
You want a professor to write you a LOR after doing poorly in his class because you were lazy?

And this isn't high school to college. Totally different ball game.
 
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TheBiologist

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A B- in a class means that you were not able to master all of the major topics taught throughout the course. I could easily understand getting a letter of recommendation for a B+, but a B- isn't even a 3.0 gpa... its like saying you approve of someone who failed to fully understand one of the core concepts that was tested on.
it means I didn't dot my i's and cross my t's - I definitely agree with those on here saying a B- is low. it is. but I understood the material at a high level, and if my professor knew that (which I'm almost certain he did) then the rec he writes might be pretty good regardless of my grade
 
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TheBiologist

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You want a professor to write you a LOR after doing poorly in his class because you were lazy?

And this isn't high school to college. Totally different ball game.
it's complicated..... you raise a good point, but still - it was more of a "mistake" of laziness than me being indifferent toward the class

and yes I am aware it's college I was simply using high school me as a reference
 

Jordan95

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it means I didn't dot my i's and cross my t's - I definitely agree with those on here saying a B- is low. it is. but I understood the material at a high level, and if my professor knew that (which I'm almost certain he did) then the rec he writes might be pretty good regardless of my grade
Make sure you mention this in your app.
 
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MareNostrummm

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Ok, Im not going to lie. When I first read the title I thought that this was dumb and of course you can get a letter with a B-. You do not need a freaking A to get a strong letter. But now after reading all of these comments, I see why people log on and ask these ridiculous questions. You guys are really making people paranoid with your ill-informed responses. I have read ALL of my letters. They are all strong as heck, they even embellished a bit. But the B- was by far my strongest letter. OP, don't be fooled by sdn and think a B- wont get you a letter, <30 wont get you into medical school, <3.99 is a poor gpa, ect. You are fine. Ask for the letter :)
"they even embellished a bit" LOL. Maybe if you actually worked harder and earned higher than B- they wouldn't need to embellish.
 
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If you have a health professions office at your school, you can have the professor write the letter and then have your advisor review the quality of it for you. Pretty low risk, potentially high reward. If the letter sucks, have the advisor scrap it and move on.
 
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When I asked letter writers, I never asked "can you please write me a letter?" A prof may feel obligated ... And the outcome might be generic or even negative.

I think the better approach (at least this was my approach) is to ask: "do you feel comfortable writing a strong letter in support of my application to med schools?" This way, a professor can be honest if he or she feels comfortable enough to endorse applicant. If the professor that gave you B- says yes to this question, then there is your answer.
 

samsam66

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what about asking an LOR from a prof i took a class with 2 yrs back?
 
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If you aren't sure it would be a good letter I wouldn't ask. But then it's a little hard to relate to a B- because of laziness. Not a pattern that you will want to continue in med school IMO.


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zurc2014

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what about asking an LOR from a prof i took a class with 2 yrs back?
That's fine. But if you know that the lower grade class will be an overall strong letter due to your relationship with the professor, by all means go for that one. That's better than a weaker letter from a class with a higher grade. Got an email for Ann at UTSW about one of my letters. The professor emailed her to verify that I received credit for some other class as well. II two days later. If that B- LOR didn't hurt me at a top school like UTSW then its probably not gonna hurt me anywhere else IMO.
 

mistafab

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What would the letter, in the best circumstance, even say?

"The biologist is a kind person, a pleasure to talk to."
Why would you want a letter like that? You want the letter to say "The Bioligist is a capable, mature, and hard-working young adult who took difficult material and excelled."

If you think you can get a good letter - go for it. You've had a fair warning.

I didn't dot my i's and cross my t's - I definitely agree with those on here saying a B- is low. it is. but I understood the material at a high level