LilHouse

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armybound

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I've had trouble and found out that I had a bad LOR.

You should continue to try to get a hold of schools about reviewing your application. If email isn't working, give them a call. Get a hold of the Dean if you have to. You really need to find out what isn't good about your application, because your numbers are strong.
 

nick_carraway

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I've had trouble and found out that I had a bad LOR.

You should continue to try to get a hold of schools about reviewing your application. If email isn't working, give them a call. Get a hold of the Dean if you have to. You really need to find out what isn't good about your application, because your numbers are strong.
Seriously. Armybound's sad, upsetting, woe-filled story convinced me to ask the med schools flat out whether there were any problems with my LORs.

So far I've been told that some are stronger than others, but I didn't get a whiff that a LOR was blatantly bad. I'm working this year to replace the possibly problematic letters.

While your results are probably just (un)luck of the draw, it really is in your best interest to find out what's going on. Med school advisors can be helpful.

In the meantime, tough it out! Go on the rest of your interviews. Call and try to bunch them up if it'll cut costs. I imagine that schools will be even more sympathetic than usual given the economic climate.

Even the best will get rejected from some schools and not hear back from others.
 
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I've got some serious trouble regarding my application. Anyone else have someone write a bad letter of recommendation?

I've gotten interviews at almost all of the schools I applied to, and some of them are quite good. I have volunteer and medical experience (I'm an EMT). I also work full time as a researcher. I received a 35 on my MCAT with a 3.9 GPA. I've also been told by two of my interviewers that my personal statement was outstanding and stood out above the rest.

However, I keep getting waitlisted and rejected. I used to think it was my interview. I mean, I have had one or two poor interviews (which did not lead to rejections), but most of them have actually been okay. I've been contacting the schools, and none of them have pointed out any weaknesses. I was told that my interviews were fine while still having room for improvement.

One school even said they would offer advice to the applicants during the cycle, but they will not respond to any of my emails for some reason. I feel blacklisted.

I'm starting to think it's one of my LORs. I used the same letters this year and last with the same results. (Though my application is much stronger this year) They are from people I trust, and I know that two of them were shocked I was not admitted last year.

I did not know one of them very well though. I was not a natural science major (humanaties, actually), but I needed a letter of recommendation from a natural science professor. It was known to be a very hard class at my college, and I was getting 120% on some of the tests after the curve. (some averages were 40/100) Since he didn't know me, I simply asked him to talk about my ability in the natural sciences. Reasonable enough, right? I really didn't know any of my natural science professors well. At least none who were eloquent writers.

I was outright rejected by two schools pre-interview, and one of those I did not meet the prerequisites (they had changed). The others only came after the interviews which suposedly went ok. Why is it that all of these schools are interviewing me and then finding something wrong post interview. Unless I'm having poor interviews at all of the schools, and they're lying to me.

If I don't get admitted to a school, I'll just move on. The thing is, I'm really upset because I've spent about $12,000 dollars on the entire process (travel, MCAT, secondary fees) and I really don't have a lot of money. That's four times more than what my car is worth! I'm almost to the point now where I want to cancel the rest of my interviews this year to save money wasted on travel.

Has anyone ever been in a similar situation? I really can't believe one of those letters would be bad though. There's really not a lot of bad things to say about me. I have flaws, but maybe someone was just being ultra critical without realizing the reprecussions of it. (You know, trying to provide an honest evaluation but ultimately talking about a disproportinate amount of negatives. I know I've done that on evaluations)
bottom line: you need to work on your interviewing/personality/personableness

you are just trying to find someone else to blame but if you in fact did have a bad LOR you wouldn't have gotten interviews at almost every school you applied to!! if your best interviews have been "ok" then that right there is your problem. from what i've seen, once you get to an interview you basically have almost a 50% chance of eventually getting in and outright rejections are very rare and are reserved for those who severly underwhelmed them. Obviously on paper you are just fine because you are getting interview invites. stop trying to blame someone else and do some introspection
 

armybound

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bottom line: you need to work on your interviewing/personality/personableness

you are just trying to find someone else to blame but if you in fact did have a bad LOR you wouldn't have gotten interviews at almost every school you applied to!! if your best interviews have been "ok" then that right there is your problem. from what i've seen, once you get to an interview you basically have almost a 50% chance of eventually getting in and outright rejections are very rare and are reserved for those who severly underwhelmed them. Obviously on paper you are just fine because you are getting interview invites. stop trying to blame someone else and do some introspection
some schools don't read LORs until after the interviews.
 

VeilofMaya

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What do you mean a bad LOR? Someone said you're a cheater or you had your dad write one?

Don't you read your LOR's before you send them out anyways?
 

Sach

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On a more serious note, a bad LOR doesn't necessarily have to say a person's a cheater. It can just be a simple reservation or neutral/slightly negative comment that makes it a bad LOR.
 

JulyMorning

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In advance, sorry for a lengthy post.

I see several potential problems that are keeping you away from an outright acceptance:
1. Failure in some way to communicate to the program that you are an excellent candidate for the school (anything from poor communication skills, to coming off as not mature enough, to just not being a good fit for the program, etc).
2. Failure to convince the program that pursuing a medical degree is really for you (why MD/DO? why not PA, nursing, physical therapy, cardiotech, etc?)
3. Failure to convince the program that you will stick to the program (that is, you are mature enough to know when to ask for help, you are ready for the rigorous curriculum, you possess perseverance necessary to stay in and successfully complete the program)...

4. A bad LOR. Not a poorly written LOR (typographical errors, less-than-eloquent english, etc), but a LOR that is in fact a do-not-accept-him/her-she's-(insert unappealing quality here). I have known a person who was blackballed in such a way (not for medical schools). She was applying for jobs after getting her BA, and asked a family friend for a written letter of reference (that was provided upon request). She failed to realize that the family friend was very well aware of the young woman's aweful work ethic, and was quite upfront about it in the recommendation. A brutal wake-up call...

Speaking of LORs, I have been accepted to school X (a pretty competitive program) with a LOR stating that my life's ambition is to go to school Y (my fault completely, as I gave poor instructions to the letter writer). I only found out about this problem in the middle of the application cycle (after all the secondaries were out), because one medical school that rejected me mentioned this *incongruency* to me.

P.S. Did you apply broadly?
 
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you might also be doing a bad job of convincing them that you would attend if accepted
 

littlealex

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On a more serious note, a bad LOR doesn't necessarily have to say a person's a cheater. It can just be a simple reservation or neutral/slightly negative comment that makes it a bad LOR.
yup. I was told by our school's adcom that basically every letter makes the student look like s/he walks on water. When they receive a less strong/neutral letter it stands out as a negative against the student.
 
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erskine

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what did you do for your other LORs? Were all of them kind of bland and generic? I think it's highly doubtful that a single LOR can offset your gpa and mcat scores, but I can see maybe if you get 4 or 5 subpar ones, then that might affect your chances.
 

LilHouse

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stixx

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I still don't think you should dismiss the chance that it's your interviewing skills. We really don't mean it personally!

I think you can assume that you don't have a bad LOR because you've gotten so many interviews. Yes, some schools don't read them pre-interview, but it seems unlikely that every school that invited you (almost every one you applied to) hadn't seen them. I only know that I had at least one lacklustre LOR (the professor told me point-blank she wouldn't be able to write a glowing review because she didn't know me well enough), and have had only positive news post-interview. I think adcomms have come to realize that non-science majors often have to use fluff LORs to fill their specific subject requirements (and vice versa). As long as your others were strong, I don't think that would be enough to tip your application into the wrong file.

Good luck!
 

slowbutsteady

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do NOT give up on med school!! you sound like you would be a great doc.

i would confront the letter writer and tell him/her your concerns. Ask the person flat out whether their letter was negative in any way. you have nothing to lose.

at least you will have some form of closure on this issue and can move on to work on your app for next cycle.

BUT, the night is young. do you still have some pending decisions? :xf:
 

LilHouse

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Jolie South

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Some closure would definitely be nice. I probably won't find it until May 15th.

Yeah, I'm still waitlisted (or in the rolling admissions process - same thing) at 6 universities. Realistically, the odds aren't bad, but I just have a feeling that something's wrong. If that's the case, I could be waitlisted at 20 and it wouldn't matter.

I haven't dismissed the fact that it's my interviews. I haven't dismissed the fact that it's anything. I just think it's unusual to have had 6+ bad interviews and faulty who tell me my interview skills aren't bad. I'm not 100% certain.

Oh well, it'll work out or I'll move on. Again, thanks for the opinions guys.
I would bomb these schools with LOIs and update letters this spring. Show that you're interested and hope for the best.

Also, really try to hone in on what was wrong with your app. Others have suggested contacting schools and asking for feedback. Definitely do that. I'd look at your LORs, essays, and interviewing skills as these things are harder to pinpoint as faults.
 

pianola

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I was told that my interviews were fine while still having room for improvement.
What I thought when I read this was, "well that's just a euphemism for 'bad interview'." But I don't know if what you wrote is exactly what you were told and maybe the interview isn't your problem. I will say this, though, I doubt anyone is going to come right out and tell you "wow, you're a cr*ppy interviewee".

My $0.02.

Good luck. Hope you find out what's going on.
 
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though i did suggest earlier that your interview is most likely your problem i certainly do not think that you will have to reapply. you are on six waitlists and in med school admissions waitlists see lots of movement so i think you have a good chance of ending up with at least one acceptance by august. that being said i still think your interviewing is holding you back...even when you try to defend against this claim you only go as far as saying your interviews were "not bad" and "ok" ....whereas i would describe my interview at the school at which i was accepted as "excellent" or "great" and "not bad" and "ok" would be reserved for the two schools i got waitlisted at.

good luck with the rest of the cycle
 

flip26

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It is only a handful of schools that don't look at LORs until after the interview...IIRC Duke is one of them...search for a list of those schools to compare them to your apps...I doubt if this is what happened to you.

It sounds to me like your problem is not an LOR - your problem is in your interviews. Otherwise you wouldn't have even gotten a waitlist...

Please summarize the total number of schools you applied to, interview offers, etc. I can't tell from your original post if you applied to 5 schools or 50...nor is it obvious to me that you applied broadly...
 

LilHouse

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itsallthesame

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I don't want to sound like a negative nancy, but I think (hope) this may help. The rec's probably aren't the problem. Really, even if they haven't been read, no one is going to give much worth to a letter from a prof who barely knew you (for better or worse).

I don't know if you interview how you post, but I've picked up on a few things:
1) You may not be as committed as you think. You're willing to give up on med school because of financial considerations and refer to non-doctoring as the "simple life."
2) You really don't seem to have a convincing reason as to why you should be an MD and not a PA, etc.

Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe those statements are just frustration vents. The fact of the matter is that doctors have to work harder, in terms of pure hours (through residency at least), being on call (home and hospital), etc, than other people in medicine. Doctors have more responsibility (know any nurses who carry malpractice?) So your reason for wanting to take on this stuff + all the debt has to be pretty damn good. If you can be confident that if you had a 3.0/28 and you convince yourself, your parents AND any med school adcom that not only do you want it so bad that you are going to put up with the debt, risk and paperwork of being and MD but that you are going to be the best damn doctor they could admit, you stand a chance. Otherwise, sorry.

So, in conclusion: really, really, really think about why A) you want to be an MD and not an NP or PA and B) why you would make a good doctor. And grades and MCAT should have NOTHING to do with your answers. Every resident will tell you, if you could be happy doing something else, do that.
 

nick_carraway

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Thanks for the advice guys. I really don't think someone intentionally wrote a bad letter. I'm just afraid that they tried to write a great letter by analyzing my strengths and weaknesses. Unlike grad school, it seems that any flaw, or even a neutral letter, can be a death sentence in the admissions process. If they thought it would be a good idea to write three strengths and three weaknesses for example, that might seem like a good idea to them, but it would show a disproportionate amount of weaknesses to the committee.
Many letter writers will balance out their praise with some criticism. This is not unexpected by adcoms and so I doubt that this would cause any problems.

I'm still convinced that what you're seeing is the product of applying to relatively few schools; 13 is not that many. You'll see from outstanding profiles by others on SDN that they were placed on waitlists (and still are on those waitlists) and were rejected from others.

You were NOT soundly rejected, which gives you hope at some schools. The narrow list of schools and any number of random variables that plague us all in the application cycle are likely to blame.

I would calm down by doing whatever it is you do (ER, etc.) and not be as amazingly critical of yourself as you're being.

Being so negative and fixating on things you have no control over is not a pattern that you want to fall into, my friend.
 

nick_carraway

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What I thought when I read this was, "well that's just a euphemism for 'bad interview'." But I don't know if what you wrote is exactly what you were told and maybe the interview isn't your problem. I will say this, though, I doubt anyone is going to come right out and tell you "wow, you're a cr*ppy interviewee".

My $0.02.

Good luck. Hope you find out what's going on.
This is true. When speaking with advisors, they'll almost always speak in euphemisms. It's up to you to break down what they're saying, probe when necessary, and listen for hesitation in their answers.

Don't go nuts and hear things that they aren't saying, but pianola is right; no one is going to flat out tell you that you suck, but you can listen critically and sometimes figure out that's what they mean.
 

flip26

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Many letter writers will balance out their praise with some criticism. This is not unexpected by adcoms and so I doubt that this would cause any problems.

I'm still convinced that what you're seeing is the product of applying to relatively few schools; 13 is not that many. You'll see from outstanding profiles by others on SDN that they were placed on waitlists (and still are on those waitlists) and were rejected from others.

You were NOT soundly rejected, which gives you hope at some schools. The narrow list of schools and any number of random variables that plague us all in the application cycle are likely to blame.

I would calm down by doing whatever it is you do (ER, etc.) and not be as amazingly critical of yourself as you're being.

Being so negative and fixating on things you have no control over is not a pattern that you want to fall into, my friend.
I agree with this - it sounds like the OP applied to too few schools (13), or said differently, not enough schools outside of the Top 20 to 25...the competition at these schools is fierce, and the OP hasn't exactly done badly this cycle with only one outright rejection and 5 waitlists...

So OP, your #1 problem appears to be the unbalanced app list, followed by a possible interview problem (but I think this is not a major thing), and lastly I seriously doubt if you would be in the position you are (5 waitlists) if you had a bad LOR...

Plus - it is just Jan 2nd...my gosh, you have more news to come, and I will be really surprised if you don't get in off one of those wait lists...

For the upcoming interview, I suggest doing "something" different this time around - if you have been consistently cool and reserved in your earlier interviews, make better eye contact and be more enthusiastic this time around - or vice versa. If you have been staying in hotels, stay with a student this time, or vice versa. If you have worn a blue suit with a white shirt, wear something different this time. Shake it up - convey your convictions - win that spot in the next class.
 

stixx

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I don't think 13 is that small a number if you have a strong application (which the OP seems to have on paper at least). And I think the fact that he has that many interviews is evidence that he applied broadly. No one should need 6+ interviews to get in.
 

nick_carraway

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I don't think 13 is that small a number if you have a strong application (which the OP seems to have on paper at least). And I think the fact that he has that many interviews is evidence that he applied broadly. No one should need 6+ interviews to get in.
First, the cycle isn't over yet and he has the potential to get off all of those waitlists (maybe--depends on the schools).

Second, 13 is a small number of schools even with a strong application. How many great applications does the Top 25 see? They need to eliminate thousands of students just to get to the interview and it very much depends on ECs and LORs and luck after that.

Even great SDN profiles show applicants receiving ~10 interviews out of ~30 schools for an ultimate of ~5 acceptances.

That said, I'm certain that the OP did nothing wrong. He just needs to wait it out and laugh at this whole ridiculous experience in the Spring.
 
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