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Best way to email someone asking for a letter of recommendation

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Yogi Bear, Mar 14, 2002.

  1. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear 2K Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2001

    What's the best way to email people who don't work at your school when asking for a letter of recommendation? I did research at another school and volunteered at a place a little over a year ago. now that i'm beginning to gather my recommendaitons, what's the best way to compose an email?
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  3. Whisker Barrel Cortex

    Whisker Barrel Cortex 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2001
    First, I'd mention something about what you did with them and how you learned a lot and enjoyed working with him/her. Then say that you are applying to medical school in the upcoming year and would like to know if he/she would be able to write a STRONG letter of recommendation for you. This may weed out a crappy, luke warm letter (do this only if you have other options for letters).

    If you have done some good stuff since your research, tell them a little bit about what you have been doing. I also think it would be very beneficial if you sent them a copy of your resume and personal statement (if available). This will give them more of a general view of you as a person.

    Most importantly, make sure you give them a general idea of when you need it by. Give them at least 2-3 months to write it. I had a big problem with this when applying to medical school because one teacher took 6 months and 10 email reminders to send my letter in.

    Good luck.
  4. here is a sample letter you can use...feel free to use it, but paraphrase a little, so that when other students use it, it doesnt become the standard for everyone, u know?

    Dear Sir:

    I don't know if you remmeber me, but I took your Chem 102 class a couple of years ago. Yes, it is true I rarely showed up to class, but my exam scores reflected hugely what I failed to do in my homework assignments. It isn't so much that I am against doing homeworks. It is just that I feel they are more designed for the academically challanged. I really enjoyed your lectures immensely. You can't imagine how many times I fell asleep and had dreams about women from Baywatch giving me a back rubdown....Ah, yes those were the good old memories. And I wanted you to know that all the times students would whisper and call your names behind your back, I never took part in such primitive activities. And that person who on your student evaluation wrote, "Your are God's cure for insomnia", then please rest assured that it wasn't me.

    I cannot over the years, tell you how much the knowledge that I have gained from your class helped me on my daily life. I mean the endless oxidative and decarboxylation reactions that I see on a normal way are simply astounding...You don't know how much this knowledge has had a great practicality in my life. In cases of severe depression, family problems and financial difficulties....a simple recitation of an aldehyde ketone attack on a carbonyl, really underlies that real problem in our society, (don't forget to cover your ass, or the next person is going to come from behind and smack you like crazy)....

    and I must say, you have such great refined taste. I had actually tried coming over to your house several times to get extra credit help. Only to find your lovely wife, you definitely have a great taste in women...I don't think I have ever seen a women in her 20s in so much of her prime....of course, I did politely refuse her offer, but I had figured a little getting to know my professor's relatives couldn't hurt least maybe she would put in a great word or two, little did I kknow that I would be making some contribution to her as well :D ....well, I didn't want to impose at all, but she was so adamant about me staying the night, something about her basically chemical needs....there was definitely some chemistry there, and I must say, 1 hour ended up to being 2 hours, and 2 hours in two she really tought me some wonderful things and boy could she play with my electrons <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> ehem....a lot of reductive reactions where goin on in that house that night....

    I hadn't spend two days in the house, when I met your wonderful daughter Britney...well I couldn't let my hospitality end with your wife..and I thought I would show my kindness to the rest of your family as well....

    Alas I cannot say how much I have over the years enjoyed your classes and your family....all of you have been immensely wonderful to me...and I hope the fact that your wife is now seeking divorce does not put a dent in our relationship in any you know your letter of recommendation means a lot to me, and I really didn't mean to get a restraining order on your daughter for starting to stalk me every night...but you know sometimes life is very acidic and painful....

    So having said that, do you think you can ever find the time to write a letter of recommendation for me? I hope that my not coming to office hours won't have a significant impact, as you can see I have tried going above and beyond to leave a lasting impression on your memory....I know for a fact, overheard the janitors one day, that you keep a picture of me on the back of your is so heart warming to know that in a class of 350 keep me so dear to your heart, even though I know you use it for target practice, that simple jesture touches me greatly....

    I just hope that you would fine the time to write a letter of recommendation for me....and I hope I have finally left a lasting impact on you the same way you have left an impact on me...

    your beloved student,


    <img border="0" alt="[Pity]" title="" src="graemlins/pity.gif" /> <img border="0" alt="[Pity]" title="" src="graemlins/pity.gif" />
  5. none

    none 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    First and foremost, you don't ask for recommendations by e-mail. You suck it up and go see them. It was by far the hardest part of the process for me, harder than interviews even because I strongly felt like I was asking for something for nothing, which I was. If you don't live in the area any more and are certain they would be bothered by a call, at least send them something by post.
  6. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear 2K Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Whisker Barrel Cortex:

    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"> Then say that you are applying to medical school in the upcoming year and would like to know if he/she would be able to write a STRONG letter of recommendation for you. This may weed out a crappy, luke warm letter (do this only if you have other options for letters). </font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Is it ok to say something as bluntly as "strong"? i don't want to scare them away...hehehe

  7. Whisker Barrel Cortex

    Whisker Barrel Cortex 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2001
    Med Dude

    Its up to you whether you say "a strong letter". If you feel that they know you well and liked you, this shouldn't be a concern. You might want to not include it if you are worried about not getting enough letters or aren't sure how much of an impression you left on them.
  8. Mutterkuchen

    Mutterkuchen Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2001
    I would call them. The telephone is much more personal. You can follow-up with an email for the details. You want a good, personal email afterall.
  9. reesie0726

    reesie0726 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 23, 2001
    arlington, tx
    Are you trying to get letters from people out of state? I was applying from TX but many of my recommenders were in New York City at my undergrad institution. So I know the trouble. I could not fly there to ask them for a letter. One of my professors was on maternity leave, so I could not call her, I had to email her. If you can go see the recommenders, by all means do so. But sometimes a phone call or visit is not feasible because of other circumstances. So I had to email a couple of people for letters. I reminded them of who I was, my accomplishments in their class, and then asked if they felt comfortable writing me a favorable letter of recommendation. Now my premed advisor told me to get as many letters as possible and she would take them and write a good composite letter. Most people will just decline your request if they can not write a favorable letter or feel that they do not know you well enough. I attached my resume and personal statement to the email. I told them in the email that I would follow the email with a paper copy of the resume and personal statement, a picture, and a copy of the application form sent priority mail. I then sent that material out to them in the big important looking priority mail envelopes.
  10. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear 2K Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    in general, do you include a copy of your transcript when asking someone for a letter of recommendations? i'm planning to include mytranscript for a research mentor and also my professors. however, no transcripts for extracurricular recommenders..i.e. volunteering?


    thanks for your response. i'm asking people from out-of-state.
  11. vixen

    vixen I like members 10+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2000
    upstate ny
    I called my prof in boston once...he said he usually met people in his office, but since I wansn't local anymore, he'd talk to me briefly over the phone and also asked if I could send him a more detailed letter about myself when I sent him the materials. Worked out fine.
  12. reesie0726

    reesie0726 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 23, 2001
    arlington, tx
    I do not think that you need to give transcripts to recommenders from extracurricular actiivites. I am assuming you have strong grades so it is fine to include a copy of your transcript to professors and research advisors. But really if someone is writing a letter based on some extracurric activity, they do not need to comment on your academic performance rather you want them to focus on their observation of your inter-personal and leadership skills.
  13. souljah1

    souljah1 Attending 10+ Year Member

    Feb 7, 2002
    You don't email them, you ask them in person if they can right you a GOOD letter, not a letter. If they don't know you as a person I wouldn't ask them. The best letters are those that tell adcoms more than just what a good student you are and how well you did on their exams. Try to think of professors/employers that know something about you that can favorably contribute to your application.

    the "i know you may not remember me" line already puts the energy out there that you don't really think they know you very well.

    you should meet with them and ask them if they can write you a good letter. if they agree, you should meet with them and discuss your reasons for applying to medical school, your outside interests, your background, etc..It is also very wise to provide them with your personal statement and your CV.

    Hope this helps.
  14. UCLA2000

    UCLA2000 7+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2001
    the hospital
    Email them...say Dr. so and so I am so and so. I don't know if u remember me but I did research with you a few years ago.


    The person will email you back and you will know from the tone of their email (or lack thereof) whether or not they remember you.

    Once you have the phone number you call them and ask for a postitive letter of rec. Be apologetic that you've been out of touch but mention some of the good stuff that you've done since your abscence.

    Another and more preferred method is to set up an appointment and go see them in person. I'm not sure if that's logistically possible...

    If so then take your transcripts, and CV with you to give to them.
  15. Zack90

    Zack90 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 6, 2001
    Philadelphia, PA
    I just want to urge you to call them first and talk to them directly and ask for the letter of rec; or, call and make an appointment to meet with them if that's possible to do the same. Only after trying this method, and they are hard to get or you can't get an appointment, and you've left messages, then send an E-mail.
  16. I've been out of school and moved around a lot, so I was requesting a lot of letters from people in other states. Some people I called, like my undergrad old physics professor and thesis advisor. We got to be pretty good friends after all of those long hours in the basement together, and it was nice to chat and catch up on things.

    My graduate advisor on the other hand is a very busy guy. I know that he prefers to be reached by email so he can respond at his convenience. Also, I emailed a doctor that I used to work with. In part because his English is not so good, and I remembered from working with him that it was easier to communicate in person or via email, and also because I know he's busy too.

    I asked everyone if they could send a STRONG letter. Be sure to clarify responses when you do this, though. I was very surprised when my graduate advisor replied that he could write a positive letter, but that he didn't know if it would be strong. But when I asked him what his hesitations were so that I could respond, he said that he had the utmost confidence in my as a physicist, but that he didn't know if his letter would be seen as strong my a medical school admissions commitee since he wasn't a MD. I wrote back about transferable skills and such, and I think that his letter is very strong. I haven't seen it, but I've had several interviewers mention my letters.

    One final piece of advice. When everyone aggred to write for me, I sent them each a large package in the mail. I sent tons of information - CV, transcripts, MCAT scores, personal statement - as well as an addressed envelope with instructions on where to send it.

    Hope this helps.

    <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" />

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