Calling all Stories of Letters of Recommendation

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by eschauberger, Dec 2, 2002.

  1. eschauberger

    eschauberger Some Guy

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2002
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0
    Has anyone else had as much trouble as I getting my application complete? It seems as if I had everything that could go wrong with people writing my letters, go wrong. Let me ellaborate.

    Each School requires a slightly different combination of letters. Some want faculty who have taught you, others want research professors, others want medical experience. And trying to figure out which combination will hopefully be the best is difficult enough. To keep track of where everyone is sending what for me, and other stuff like secondary fees and whatnot, I have this monster Excel Spreadsheet. Ok, now the fun stuff.

    So, I tried making the pain of letters as easy as possible though it is part of their' jobs. I sent lots of information, my resume, transcript, personal statement, printed AMCAS application, even powerpoint presentations. Stamped and addressed envelopes, even checklist of where everything needed to be sent. And all of them with at least 9-10 weeks to write them. I feel I made the largest mistake by not making up a deadline and instead figured they'd be motivated enough to just get them done.

    The first hurdle. My advisor took 11 weeks to write the letter. And this is after about 5 weeks straight of me progressively calling him more often, and him promising them on "this Monday." He finally sent them out.

    The second hurdle, my professor I do research with. Well, I got a grad student I mostly work with to write most of this one, all she had to do was review it and sign it. It took her 4 weeks from the time he wrote it until she sent it. She changed nothing (according to the equally annoyed grad student who felt my pain) and then she calls me to tell me she was confused where everything needed to be sent and about my AMCAS ID number and then she told me I should make a checklist (I had done that 3 times, once for the grad student, twice for her).

    Round three, a VP of a medical center was writing this one. He had already written one last year for me. He told me he planned to just modify that one. After about 10 weeks, and 4 of me progressively emailing him with several email that were like "I know you are busy, just send a reply back with either a Y or a N, have they been sent?" He finally sent them (or should I say the one). I found out later that he sent his secretary the address for where I had him send the letter for a summer program I did. I called her a couple weeks later. She felt pretty stupid about it and got them all sent out yet that day.

    Round four. My preceptor from my Summer program was going to write one. After about 9 weeks, and 3 of my nagging, his secretary emails me back that he is too busy writing a grant proposal and he wants me to write it for him. After declining, I decided to be resourceful and made a form for people around the department to write it for me. 4 weeks later, after calling the secretary directly several time, it finally got sent out.

    Round five, a podiatrist I have coached soccer with for 3 years. After 13 weeks he finally gets it dictated. His secretary takes 2 weeks to type it (all with the usual twice a week calls and promises. He sends me an email "got them out." I call the schools to find out that he didn't send any of the required forms (which I had both faxed to his work (twice) and mailed to his house), but only wrote the letter. He lost the forms, I sent them a fourth time.

    So, that's it right now. I don't think I didn't anything wrong, but there has to be a better way then having to work so hard to get these in. I know, some people may say that maybe I didn't deserve the letters and am some type of jerk, but I know all of these people pretty well and they all said they'd gladly write them for me.
     
  2. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. dr. deez

    dr. deez Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Messages:
    199
    Likes Received:
    0
    WOW! when did you start asking for letters? i went through the same pain!!!... but I started asking for letters early during the spring semester (and had them by july) so i guess it was ok. 'i hope everything else works out for ya'!!!
     
  4. canadagirl

    canadagirl Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yet another example of why AMCAS should collect the reference letters and send them out to the schools!!! It is absolutely ridiculous for individual professors to need to send out so many references. I mean, can you imagine being a professor, and having ten students ask you for references, and having to process as many as a hundred letters? :eek: YUCK

    There's no reason why AMCAS couldn't collect an arbitrary number of letters from each applicant, and then we could identify which letters to be forwarded to which schools...
     
  5. lotanna

    lotanna Child of God

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    I feel your pain. Same thing is happening with me, its been 6-8weeks of constantly asking and beggin people writing my letters, and finally I have 3 done, enough to get schls to look at my applications. Never mind that there are 5 people supposedly writing letters for me, the other 2 are just takin their jolly ol tme, I guess they are doing me a favor but still :(
     
  6. GoodMonkey

    GoodMonkey sproutmobile

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2002
    Messages:
    6,792
    Likes Received:
    4
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    my undergrad school actually does this. come to think of it, so does the school i did grad work at. it was wonderful; i had all the letter-writers just send one letter to the office at my old school and that school already confirmed that every med school would take their rec letter forms (i'm going on their word here, i didn't check for myself, but i had no probs) and for a little fee (like $5/school for 1st class mail, $12/school for priority mail/express mail) they sent my whole pack of letters out to all the schools i requested. a beautiful thing, really. :D

    now, that isn't to say that i didn't have one HELLUVA time getting one of my LORs to the school office in the first place. i was out of the state at the time and trying to chase the person down via cell phone out in b.f.nowhereville (i was doing fieldwork) was loads o' fun. :rolleyes: and then the post office lost the first one, and so i had to have them resend the bloody thing. again, more cell-phone tag.

    all worked out in the end, tho... i just learned to breathe more. :D
     
  7. lotanna

    lotanna Child of God

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    My schl does the same, I think a lot of schls do. For mine, its even free to send each letter to up to 10schls :)
     
  8. isidella

    Joined:
    May 23, 2002
    Messages:
    644
    Likes Received:
    0
    So here is a lil' trick I used:

    I emailed all of my letter writers five weeks before I wanted the letters out, requesting a "positive" letter of rec. After the email confirmation, I personally visited each letter writer to hand him/her a large envelope containing my CV, my cover letter, my AMCAS info, my designated schools and a small box of chocolates. After that, I personally visited each one of my recommenders administrative assistants and handed him/her a disk containing the addresses for each school and a small box of chocolates.

    The chocolates work!!!! For less than a dollar a person, I added a significant amount of pressure and guilt for my writers and the assistants. All of my letters went out without a problem.
     
  9. abw

    abw Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey!
    Luckily, I don't have to worry about lor's for med school because my pre-med advisor makes a composite letter from a file i've built up. However, my grad school app's were exactly like yours. I called the prof's i was planning on asking in early august, 2 wks before i came back to school. I personally handed them my resume, etc. in mid august, after bugging them to no end, they finally got sent out in mid december. it didn't end there though. in jan., i called each school to make sure my file was complete (they all were) but sometime after that, 6 schools lost my lor's so i had to go through the whole process again. every school lost at least something at least once in the app. process, so by the end, instead of choosing the best school, i wound up choosing the school that gave me the least grief.
     
  10. canadagirl

    canadagirl Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    0
    One caveat about the method above - think carefully about each reference before giving them anything. One of my references gave a group of us a big talk last week about how it's EVIL to give gifts to references!! :eek: Good thing he told us before christmas ;) .. But I have a reference that I gave a gift to back in first year, and he obviously really liked it, and still mentions it occasionally .. so it really depends on the person. But you don't want to alienate someone by accident!!

    You're so lucky all you schools where the schools collect the reference letters.. I want to go to a school like yours! Not wanting to collect reference letters is the main reason that I didn't end up following through on any secondaries for US schools.
     
  11. Chieka

    Chieka Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2002
    Messages:
    203
    Likes Received:
    1
    eschauberger, I feel your pain. I had major problems with my LORs, but things seem to be fine now. Luckily, UCONN invited me for an interview even before getting any LORs.

    I have to say, though, that my situation wasn't half as frustrating as yours. I feel for you - best of luck in with the rest of your application.

    C.
     
  12. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    Messages:
    2,155
    Likes Received:
    11
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    most of my letters went out without much problem. Yeah, a few profs and all were late, but nothing major. It's the med schools that pissed me off. That's why I reserve a special place in my descending colon for the following schools:

    1. Jefferson. I called them in Octobober and they said that my application was complete and going before the committee. A month later I called to check, and they claimed to have lost 3 of my 4 LORs. The guy in the admissions office said that he would call me back later that day to tell me which ones. He never did. So I had to call on the day I was flying to a med school interview. Again, somebody said that they'd call me back in 5 minutes....which turned into an hour.

    2. Mt Sinai. I called to confirm that my LORs arrived, only to be told for a MONTH that they were probably just being processed. I finally had them resent. Whether they were ever sent to begin with, I don't know.

    3. Einstein. Same as Sinai, different details.

    4. Medical College of Wisconsin. I talked to their admissions director to clarify who needed to send in a letter clarifying that my grad program is aware of my intention to go to medical school (I will finish my MPH before med school). On my secondary app they said that I needed to specify who my graduate program director was. Big mistake. I called a few weeks later, only to learn that they required a letter from him stating that he knew I was applying to med schools, despite the director of admissions saying otherwise. Then when I talked to him, he claims to not remember talking to me and just repeated their stupid policy. He said I could petition, but that would add weeks to my application.
     
  13. eschauberger

    eschauberger Some Guy

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2002
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one getting screwed by this whole deal. Actually, some of the schools request that the letters be sent in a packet. My school doesn't have a Premed committee, but does have an advisor, so she collected all of my letters and sent the packet for me, but even she started to email me that my advisor hadn't sent his letter to her yet, so she couldn't send it out. I was like "well.... you email him then."
    YOu really walk a thin line between being PROACTIVE and ANNOYING. It's sad that you have to push so hard and then have to worry if they are going to blast you in their letter for you about being inpatient and annoying. BTW, I sent the thank you cards to sort-of lay on the guilt. For my advisor, it was around halloween. I was tempted to bribe him with candy or egg his house.
    Oh, I started asking some people (like the podiatrist) in the middle of summer, but then more formerly asked him in August. Most everyone else, the second or third week of school.
    My Girlfriend is applying to Vet School (we are attempting to pull this off) and sent her 3 LOR to VMCAS. I think I like what Vet schools do better--plus no rolling admissions.
    -=Eric
     
  14. Jet915

    Jet915 Shi*ter's Rule

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2002
    Messages:
    556
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with the method of gift giving. I gave my recommenders about 2 months time to finish my recs. After 5 weeks though, I sent them a reminder which consisted of a framed wildlife photograph that I took and a nice card. After that, my recommenders would email me back saying thanks and a week or two later, 5 of my 6 recommenders turned in my rec. (only one professor continued to lag......) So overall, I think the effect of the gift is just to remind them that you still exist and most professors will respond to that and finish your rec.

    Jetson
     
  15. sarah_viola

    sarah_viola Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    This seems like an appropriate place to get some advice...

    I asked 6 professors to write me a letter this May, and all replied "yes, I'd be happy to". By this October, 2 had been received by my schools' letter-collection-service.

    I emailed the remaining 4 with an update about my new job, how I was looking forward to med school, etc, this October, and I thought that by leaving the email in which each said they'd write the rec for me at the bottom of my email, their memories would be jogged and they would whip the letter out. (I mean common', they had ALL summer).

    Well, now it's December, and none have replied to the email I sent in October. I would like to have the letters in by February, so my schools' pre-med committee can write the composite letter in time for July-ish. I don't want to be a pest, so should I call (yikes!) or re-email them (and this time embed some code my boyfriend wrote that will let me know when and if they opened the email)?

    I didn't want to send a small gift until after they'd written the letter, but at this point I'm getting worried. Did you all end up calling every week, nagging them until they did it? The thing was, these professors were the ones who could really write a strong rec, or so I thought, or had already written one, and just need to adapt it to med schools! How difficult is that? What is the hold-up? I thought that by giving them a YEAR to write it, they would have no problems.
     
  16. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  17. conure

    conure Master Distiller

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2002
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    2
    I had a helluva time with my letters as well. It took me at least six months to get letters out of two of my professors. If it is such a problem to do them in a timely manner they shouldn't agree to do it. Try to remember your frustration when a future student or employee of yours asks you for a letter.

    Also, my school has a credentialing service and it is very convenient. I think there may be some private companies that do this for a fee, a web search should find them.

    As for you Sarah I would not start bugging them until January (after the holidays) and pick up your pace as your personal deadlines get closer. You have a lot of time and the premed committees are pretty quick. Don't underestimate the face to face confrontation instead of email. A little gentle face to face pleading can go a long way.
     
  18. *sunny*

    *sunny* ...

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    0
    Are most of your LORs from you sr/jr years profs? I attend a small college less than 1,200 people and I've had one prof for 2 semesters now, but for frosh year. Is it appropriate to ask for a letter of recommendation, or should I wait? I've been told to get LORs from this year but i'm not sure what purpose they are for- future research positions...med school seems a bit far off to ask for a rec. for that... thanks :)
     
  19. eschauberger

    eschauberger Some Guy

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2002
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oh, so the saga continues....

    I called one of the schools regarding the forms that were just sent to give them a heads up that they are coming (if it's worth anything). She told me that I needed to send her a copy of my wavior because everything needs to be original signature and can not be a fax or a copy, so the waivor form I sent to him apparently wouldn't do. I sent the waivor form (the 4th time I've actually signed it).

    So, my advice (if it worth much--remember I really wasn't that successful in dealing with this). When it gets down to go time with the LOR, DON'T EMAIL! Most prof and other professionals get around 40-100 emails a day. Yours will most likely just get lost with others offering to increase penis size (or Hot Nude Chicks). Be frank with them and tell them that medical school is rolling admissions. You could even tell your premed advisor your concerns, and he or she might put some heat on them. In any case, I think you will be fine.
    -=Eric
     
  20. AlternateSome1

    AlternateSome1 Burnt Out
    Physician

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Messages:
    975
    Likes Received:
    15
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    HAHAHA! Maybe you just need to find professors who are into that sort of thing and send them e-mails with disturbing subjects?

    ~AS1~
     
  21. abw

    abw Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey sunny!
    I had the same problem - my undergrad had only ~1000 students, and many of my jr./sr. year profs taught all of my classes, but many of the fr/so. year profs had left already. I would get letters of recommendations from anyone as soon as you finish your class. If your pre-med advisor doesn't keep a file of them for you, the alumni office will (in my school that's where you keep them for future job interviews.) good luck with everything!
     
  22. *sunny*

    *sunny* ...

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    0
    abw... please check your PM thanks for your response

    *bump*
     
  23. eschauberger

    eschauberger Some Guy

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2002
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ok, so I still have one person that hasn't turned in my Minnesota form yet though it was supposed to be sent two weeks after I gave it to him (which was in late September), and MUST be sent in before Nov 15th. (SEE THE FIRST POST OF THE THREAD)
    I am so pissed off right now! I should send a bill to his house for the $200 that he has screwed me out of (not even including my chances of getting in, which are pretty much gone. He sent me an email that he was done dictating them, but haven't been typed or sent yet.
    What the hell do I do? Because everyone has dragged their a$$ getting everything done, I have only gone to one interview. It's pretty upseting to know that I've done everything in my power to get in, and a large part that I may not is because everyone took 10-18 weeks to get their letters in for me. I guess I'll just go work at Wal-Mart.
    -=Eric
     
  24. Chieka

    Chieka Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2002
    Messages:
    203
    Likes Received:
    1
    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    You have a better sense of humour about the LOR mess than I do. ;)

    I think I may take steal your idea re: billing the profs for application fees - I wonder how that would come across.... :rolleyes:

    I just sent out more requests last week, and instead of telling them to deadline (something like February 15), I just told them to send it by Dec. 31. Otherwise, I know they'll take their time, and that is not in my best interest.

    Maybe you should try that... I think you are only supposed to give them a minimum of two weeks notice.

    Good luck.

    C.
     

Share This Page