Befriending profs

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by QuietStorm, Feb 26, 2001.

  1. QuietStorm

    QuietStorm Junior Member

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    I don't usually go to my prof's office hours and so by the time, I need a good recommendation, I don't know who to go to. Any pointers (the more extensive, the better)?
     
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  3. praying4MD

    praying4MD 2K Member

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    Make friends with your profs if u haven't already!! if it's hard to communicate with ur science profs, sometimes they are preoccupied with research, at least get to know your social sciences profs and english ones. they will come in handy. i am very good friends with one of my old profs and we keep in touch like we're friends. they are invaluable and can help u out with numerous connections that u never even thought of, not to mention those glowing recommendations. plus, they spread the word about u. talk to them after class, be active in class discussions and in general, find a prof u like and see how the friendship develops. i know it's hard at first (it was for me) but once u get the hang of conversing with authority, it's a breeze, and very useful for u in the future. hope that helps.
     
  4. gower

    gower 1K Member

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    Of course get to know your profs! Recommndations based only on grades are nearly worthless: your grade can be read from your transcript and SAR. But don't underestimate your profs; most can usually tell whether you are just sucking-up to them for a good letter or you are truly interested in conversation and the course material. They weren't born yesterday.
    You may also discover that you can often learn more outside of class than you would just by listening to lectures and taking notes. You might also learn that they are human beings once in the same position as you are now: looking to earn an advanced degree and just as concerned then over what you are concerned about now.
     
  5. Starflyr

    Starflyr Manic Faerie

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    What I do, on the rare occasions that I have a prof I DONT know (small school here), Ill finish my homework assignments and instead of going to the TA, I go to the prof with questions. I know some people say "thats what the TA is for!", but the prof knows too, and probably better than the TA. Give you a good chance to actually get to know the prof and NOT look like you're sucking up. S/He will also get a look at your learning style and committment - especially if you always go a couple days before the HW is acutally due. Profs are people too - they have lives and kids and like to go biking. so be sure you ask about that, if there's time. Maybe set up an "extra" time outside the profs office hours to go over the HW with them or something. *shrug* I dont know how bigger schools work this out, but they're really nice about it here. I ambush my pheics prof at least 2x a week outside her office hours - and I dont even need recs! [​IMG]

    good luck<
    Star
     
  6. Dodge This

    Dodge This Senior Member

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    Your profs are the only people who should be writing your letters of rec. Schools don't even accept them from anyone else. The easiest way to get a glowing letter? Become a teaching assistant.
     
  7. Dream4June

    Dream4June Junior Member

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    I'm having trouble with the letters of recommendation. See, I just transferred to a new university. (after my sophomore year). Now I'm about to finish my junior year at the new school, and I haven't really gotten to know my professors. Should I try to get letters from profs. from the old school, or start now getting to know some here?
     
  8. motar

    motar New Member

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    With letters of recommendation, is it necessary for a Dr. to write them? If a TA that teaches a class/lab writes a letter of recommendation, is it not seen as that important?
     
  9. kris

    kris Senior Member

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    I would opt for a letter from the professor rather than the TA. I'm guessing that letters from profs are more well-received for a number of reasons: an assumption that the prof is likely to be more discriminate, the prof has more experience in student evaluation, the prof has more of a reputation at stake, so is less likely to just throw out glowing letters without meaning it, etc. And then there's just the simple perception of the PhD behind the name. At larger schools it can be difficult in a biochem class of 400, to get to know the prof, but it can be done. I had an orgo prof that thought well of my work and my questions, but who was pretty difficult to access. He used his TA's as a barrier. He got the TA to write part of my recommendation, and then he added some more and signed it. As a rule, I would avoid TA recommendations if possible. I've been a graduate TA, and every time I was asked to write a recommendation, I'd try to get the student to go to the prof instead. With few exceptions, TA letters simply don't have the weight of a recommendation from a prof. I think it can also make a difference if you get a good letter from the chair of a science department. I was lucky enough to have a course with the chair of biology, and we got along very well. His letter is signed with his position noted by his name. I think these things can make a difference. Work it to your advantage, but first and most importantly, make sure the person will write you a strong letter.
    --kris
     
  10. KidA

    KidA Member

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    a. If you prof is single...ask him or her out for a drink on a friday night.

    b. If your prof is married, do not hit on his/her spouse too conspicuously.

    c. If your prof is the same sex as you...do the same as part a.
     
  11. KingScorpio

    KingScorpio Junior Member

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    A good way to gain a letter of recommendation is to do research with a professor. This usually builds a decent relationship, and the professor can see first-hand what you can do.
     
  12. Asteras1

    Asteras1 Senior Member

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    -Dream4June

    Last year I was a transfer student as well and I also was worried about getting letters of recommendation.

    If possible I would suggest getting some from your old school and some from your new school but that isn't too important unless you are applying to some really top notch med school.

    I myself pulled out 3 letters of rec from a single semester at my new school. Two from Profs and one from a TA. As far as I know, the medical schools I applied to have not had much of a problem with this.

    Now, they way to do it is to GO TO THEIR OFFICE HOURS REGULARLY. Find a class that you are doing well in and just go see the professor it is really that simple. It will allow the professor to get to know you and will therefore be able to write a good letter for you. You'd be surprised though at how many people go back to professors they never spoke to for a letter of rec just because they got a good grade in the class. Do not do this unless you really have to.

    Another good thing to do is find a class with a relatively small class size where the professor can know your name and see you in class everyday. As you progress toward your major, you should be able to take some advanced classes within your major that will have smaller class sizes than the introductory courses that you took initially.

    Don't listen to people who say TA letters are no good. TA letters are fine so long as not all of them are from TAs. Since TAs usually know you better than professors, their letters may be more meaningful. I know someone that submitted 3 letters of rec with 2 of them from TAs and only one from a professor and he got into a decent medical school.

    Good luck to you!

    [This message has been edited by Asteras1 (edited 03-04-2001).]
     
  13. Dream4June

    Dream4June Junior Member

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    Asteras1-
    Thanks for your advise!
     
  14. premedmijo

    premedmijo Senior Member

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    Do you need recs from individual profs? I was under the impression that the entire premed committee writes a letter for you. Is this correct? Are the recs only from science profs or nonscience as well?
     
  15. caffeinegirl

    Physician

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    I come from a huge school as well. Just think of having chem and orgo in a 500+ lecture hall. The class had around 800 or so students (there were two sessions a semester). So, needless to say, I can't go to my instructors for rec's. Here is how I weathered this dilemma:

    1) I did research in a great lab where I interacted with the principal prof and the other assistant prof's in the lab. I got a rec from the main prof who emphasized my research and "scholarly" potential, and another rec from an assistant prof who supervised me on a daily basis...she wrote on my "character." I didn't have access to the letters, but explained to them this is what I wanted emphasized.

    2) As for how I do in class, the only prof who I had some sort of interaction with was my faculty advisor (who you talk about your schedule with). He spoke about my academic record.

    My school has the premedical committee system, where you pay them an exhorbitant fee so that they write a letter for you. They basically assign a random faculty member to interview you, and then write a rec pulling together the interview impression as well as impressions from the three people mentioned above (you submit three recs to this committee). Then, it's stamped with the university seal and mailed to whatever med schools you want.

    This is how the "premedical committee letter" worked. Plus, they put a cover letter explaining how the classes are structured here. Check with the career office/premed advisor at your school.

    This system worked beautifully for all schools except one, which required two letters from instructors. I gave them the premed committee letter with all the add-ins, and then scrambled for two TA's who taught sections (small groups) to write letters for me (since my school is so big, that's the only meaningful interaction I had with instructors).

    And, I survived
    [​IMG]

    Some other advice:
    It helps to get a faculty member
    It helps to get an MD
    But, a TA is good too, if you have at least one of the above.

    Choose people who know you fairly well, and who you are SURE will say good things about you. What I didn't like about my school's premed committee format, is that the random interviewer can pretty much tip the scale for you (in my case, not so fairly)

    good luck!!
    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Asteras1

    Asteras1 Senior Member

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    -premedmijo

    From my understanding you can have one letter of rec from the pre-medical committee at your school or three letters of recommendation from a combination of professors and/or TAs. Many schools do not have the traditional pre-med committee so it is fairly common now to get letters from individual professors.

    The letters from individual professors typically must break down like so:

    2 Science
    1 Non-Science

    This is the general rule of thumb and is acceptable to most medical schools. Remember though that this is only a rule of thumb and not an across-the-board standard. Medical schools will vary slightly on this issue.

    What I do know for sure though is that most schools will take either a letter from a pre-med committee OR 3+ letters from individuals.
     
  18. premedmijo

    premedmijo Senior Member

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    Asteras1, thank you for clarifing.
     

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