Do you have to get an A/B to ask for a strong letter of rec?

relentless11

Going broke and loving it
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2001
1,584
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Hi guys,

I'm going to get a letter or rec from this professor, but my grade in his class was like a C+/B-. I'm sure he'd write one, but does that look good from an adcom's perspective?
 

chitown

Junior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2004
20
0
Status (Visible)
i'd say that the adcom's response would be determined by the content of the letter. If the letter stressed your personality, compassion, and that stuff, then i dont the grade would matter. However, if the letter is impersonal and strictly academic based than it might look a little shady that you got a low grade in the class. Just my 2 cents. good luck
 

BerkeleyPremed

Membership Revoked
Removed
15+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2003
946
1
Status (Visible)
I'd say the lowest grade you should get in a course and feel safe asking for a letter of rec would probably be a B-. Anything lower than that would probably seem a little suspicious. I heard the best letters of recommendation usually come from professors that are the PIs for your lab or your department advisors for your major.
 
About the Ads

relentless11

Going broke and loving it
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2001
1,584
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Originally posted by BerkeleyPremed
I'd say the lowest grade you should get in a course and feel safe asking for a letter of rec would probably be a B-. Anything lower than that would probably seem a little suspicious. I heard the best letters of recommendation usually come from professors that are the PIs for your lab or your department advisors for your major.

Totally agree, luckily I got one of those too. Thats the spear head of my letter or rec package:)
 

TTSD

Sexually Deprived
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 30, 2003
3,289
8
Outside your orifice
Status (Visible)
Unless there's some extenuating circumstance for getting that grade and the professor knows about it. Like you were top of their class but then ended up in the ER the night before due to a friend getting really sick, but still reported in for the final the morning of and was half concious and did poorly but your grade was still buoyed by papers, quizzes and midterms. Then yeah, ask.
 

bbawco1

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 21, 2003
113
0
Status (Visible)
Maybe you could just ask the professor what type of letter he would write. I say this because I know of one professor who told us that he would write a different letter those that got A's than those that got any other grade just based on that. Unless you are kind of desperate to get this professor or he knows you a bit more personally I would just ask him. good luck
 

Ragzpie

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jun 11, 2003
204
0
Maryland
Status (Visible)
If you know the prof will write a favorable letter, I would definitely ask him/her. I think it's better to get letters from professors who gave you bad grades, because it shows that the grade did not accurately reflect your work in the course. It shows that despite the grade your work and demeanor were favorably looked upon by the prof. I think that goes along way.
 

exmike

NOR * CAL
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
May 19, 2003
4,206
11
43
Bay Area
Status (Visible)
  1. Fellow [Any Field]
I had a B in a class and the professor was very reluctant to write me a rec. needless to say I didnt use him. I'd advise going for A classes. Otherwise, how can the adcomm reconcile a glowing rec for someone that got a less than glowing grade?
 

relentless11

Going broke and loving it
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2001
1,584
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
That is true. So far here's the breakdown of letters of rec.

1) Pediatrician from shadowing with her for a year.
2) PI from my research lab. Did research with him for 4 years and still counting. Research went beyond just working relationship. We also SCUBA dived together, etc.
3) Professor of Biomedical Engineering, got an A in that class. Class of about 5 people too, so I got to know her well.
4) Lt. Col., United States Army


I am of course planning to get 2 more letters. Pretty much, the that i'm debating about is from my microbiology class. Got to know the professor real well. Of course I have some pretty good letters of rec about my personality already.

Do you guys think asking letters of rec after spring quarter is too late? Because I could take that microbiology professor's micro lab in the spring and just do well in there, which should take care of that whole grade problem. Or just ask someone else. My gf actually proposed the idea I should get one from an arts & humanities professor. I had an A in a women's studies class (i'm not sure how i did that), however that was a year and a half ago, and i don't think the professor remembers me.

Any thoughts?
 

LaurieB

Full Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 2, 2003
651
2
Chicago
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
Go for the Women's Studies letter. I think that you have enough science/professional letters so one from someone who can talk about you in a different light might make a nice balance.

My 2 cents!
 

spaz

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Oct 26, 2003
191
0
Status (Visible)
Originally posted by relentless11
That is true. So far here's the breakdown of letters of rec.

1) Pediatrician from shadowing with her for a year.
2) PI from my research lab. Did research with him for 4 years and still counting. Research went beyond just working relationship. We also SCUBA dived together, etc.
3) Professor of Biomedical Engineering, got an A in that class. Class of about 5 people too, so I got to know her well.
4) Lt. Col., United States Army


I am of course planning to get 2 more letters. Pretty much, the that i'm debating about is from my microbiology class. Got to know the professor real well. Of course I have some pretty good letters of rec about my personality already.

Do you guys think asking letters of rec after spring quarter is too late? Because I could take that microbiology professor's micro lab in the spring and just do well in there, which should take care of that whole grade problem. Or just ask someone else. My gf actually proposed the idea I should get one from an arts & humanities professor. I had an A in a women's studies class (i'm not sure how i did that), however that was a year and a half ago, and i don't think the professor remembers me.

Any thoughts?

I don't remember which schools specified which... but the magic combo is 3 profs who have taught you (2 science + 1 non-science). plus a few extracurriculars (e.g. research, volunteering, work, etc.). This should cover all the bases.

I think Jefferson asked for something ridiculous, like a bio, a chem, and a physics letter. Needless to say, there was no way I'd get a physics letter, considering that the last physics class I took was freshman year. I just submitted the letters I had. I don't know how strict they are, but I also haven't heard a word from them post-secondary.

So I definitely recommend going for both the microbio and the women's studies letters.

And usually you do want to stick to classes that you did well, i.e. A's (or B if the prof acknowledges that it's a particularly challenging class). The med schools want letters that can speak of your academic proficiency among other things.

good luck!
 

relentless11

Going broke and loving it
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2001
1,584
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Originally posted by spaz
I don't remember which schools specified which... but the magic combo is 3 profs who have taught you (2 science + 1 non-science). plus a few extracurriculars (e.g. research, volunteering, work, etc.). This should cover all the bases.

I think Jefferson asked for something ridiculous, like a bio, a chem, and a physics letter. Needless to say, there was no way I'd get a physics letter, considering that the last physics class I took was freshman year. I just submitted the letters I had. I don't know how strict they are, but I also haven't heard a word from them post-secondary.

So I definitely recommend going for both the microbio and the women's studies letters.

And usually you do want to stick to classes that you did well, i.e. A's (or B if the prof acknowledges that it's a particularly challenging class). The med schools want letters that can speak of your academic proficiency among other things.

good luck!

Cool thanks for the info. I just sent out an email to that Women's Studies professor. Hopefully she'll reply! In addition to that, i sent one to my OChem professor. Had an A in that class, so might as well ask him. Totally forgot about that class since it was so long ago! But then again, i just recently decided to push hard on this stuff. Hope at least one of them helps me out!
 

ChE_Babe

Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Feb 29, 2004
48
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
I think that it's good to have it in your file and available if you need it, but only if you're CERTAIN that the content is going to be positive. The best thing is to use your own judgement, because you know your relationship with that professor.
One of my best letters is from a professer I got two (yes TWO) Cs from. I also knew that 1) he loves me to death and considers me to be one of the top two members of my graduating class (he's my department head) and 2) he very rarely gives grades above C (they were both "weed out" chemical engineering courses).
The AdCom won't ever see who gave you what grade, so they may never make the connection between a letter and a grade, but if you have a good letter it gives you a response to the question, "What about that C?". I used that in an interview, saying that the professor valued my work and thought well of me and that my Cs reflected in no way on my work. It helped that I'd read his letter though, so I could speak with confidence, because he gave me a copy.
 
About the Ads

ewing

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Aug 26, 2003
446
0
In da house!
Status (Visible)
Word of advice about getting a rec. from the women's studies prof from 1.5 years ago: try to dig up a graded paper or two, that should give her a way to refresh her memory and remember exactly why she thought you were a good student. Med schools are very wary of generic letters that just say you'll be a great doctor and don't give any evidence or details. Adulatory superlatives are a dime a dozen in the LOR world...
 

Beth_yu

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Dec 3, 2003
102
0
Status (Visible)
if you are applying to 20 schools, should you get 20 copies recommendation letters from each recommenders?

Also, 5 recommendation is more than enough?

How about letters from humanity classes professors? Should acquire science classes letter or humanities more?

LAstly, can I apply without the support of my school's premed committee. They are pretty discouraging .. espeically when you are a foreign student

Thanks!!!
 

Ragzpie

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jun 11, 2003
204
0
Maryland
Status (Visible)
Originally posted by Beth_yu
if you are applying to 20 schools, should you get 20 copies recommendation letters from each recommenders?

Also, 5 recommendation is more than enough?

How about letters from humanity classes professors? Should acquire science classes letter or humanities more?

LAstly, can I apply without the support of my school's premed committee. They are pretty discouraging .. espeically when you are a foreign student

Thanks!!!

Typically, the premed office receives the letters, photocopies them and sends them to the school. You can also use a letter service, who will serve as the premed office in this capacity. Your recommenders need only send one copy of their letter direclty to the premed office or letter service. Using the letter service allows you to avoid the premed committee....However, each school seems to have the option of their particular letter requirements or a pre-med committee letter. If you do go through a premed committee, you can get the committee letter and not have to deal with each school's individual requirements.

I think five letters are enough. Just make sure you get two from science professors and one from a non-sci professor.
 

relentless11

Going broke and loving it
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2001
1,584
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Regards to pre-med committee's it seems that all med school's say that if you have one, you better use it. I dont' think they use such forceful words but I believe i was reading a secondary from Albert Einstein and it said to check a box that said your letters are in a health committee packet, or not. IF not then why. APparently you have to say why you chose to not use your committee and stuff.

The nice thing about the committee letter is the writers send them to the committtee itself. You don't technically touch them or even see them. Less chances of tampering. Of course you neverk now but I would think that adcom's look at committee letters with higher regard than letters of rec sent from the applicant.

My research professor said he used to provide students with a copy of his letter's of rec, but one day a student was altering it in the library via the photocopy machine, and let it there. He was notified by the librarian, and that was the end of that.
 

greggth

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 19, 2003
258
1
www.mdapplicants.com
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
Originally posted by relentless11
I'm going to get a letter or rec from this professor, but my grade in his class was like a C+/B-. I'm sure he'd write one, but does that look good from an adcom's perspective?

Forget about the grade. Choose the person who can write the best recommendation, the one who knows you best and who most strongly feels that you have potential. Is the committee going to sit there and go through your transcript to find the grade?

I wonder why recommenders don't usually let students see the letters of recommendation. I think I would.
 

Sharky

Shark
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 30, 2001
823
0
Shark World
Status (Visible)
If you received an F or D in a course, I would seriously reconsider asking the professor of that course for a recommendation.
 

greggth

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 19, 2003
258
1
www.mdapplicants.com
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
Originally posted by Beth_yu
if you are applying to 20 schools, should you get 20 copies recommendation letters from each recommenders?

Also, 5 recommendation is more than enough?

How about letters from humanity classes professors? Should acquire science classes letter or humanities more?

LAstly, can I apply without the support of my school's premed committee. They are pretty discouraging .. espeically when you are a foreign student


Hello Beth,

1) Try to get the premed committee to help you. It will make your life a lot easier. If they do not help you, you will have to get each professor to send 20 letters out to 20 different Admissions Offices. I had to do that because I am a nontraditional student. The professors were happy to do it for me. But it was a big nuisance. It took hours and hours to print out all the envelopes, and about 5 or 6 of the letters got LOST in the mail and I had to get the professors to send them again. The professors will not give you the letters. They will put them in the envelopes and mail them.

2) If you have 5 or 6 professors who can write you amazing letters of recommendation, then do it. But in my opinion, it wouldn't be good to flood your file with 5 or 6 mediocre recommendations.

3) Some schools require a letter of recommendation from a non-science professor (humanities, social science, etc.)

4) Are you aware that as a foreign student, you may not be eligible for the same financial aid as US citizens?
 

relentless11

Going broke and loving it
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2001
1,584
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
So anyway, I think i figured out my plan. First, i havnt' heard back from my OChem professor or the Women's studies professor. No big deal.

Secondly, I spoke with the microbiology prof about the upper division microbiology lab course offered in the spring. He say's that its full but people always drop out. He said I just have to be patient and hang around until I can get in. Which is perfectly fine...since its one of the nice things about being a post-bacc is that you have a lot of elbow room concerning these things. Therefore, i'm gonna take his lab course, do well in that class, and as him halfway through the spring quarter for a letter of rec.

Regards to a humanities letter of recommendation, I can take some course this spring and scramble for a letter at the last minute. I would definately like to have a non-science letter of rec, but really I think the fact that my letters so far are strong in their own right, and the fact that i don't want more than 5-6 letters of rec, I should put a cap on it. Quality of quantity. Do you guys agree?
 
I

indigoblue

if you were in the position of that letter writer, would you write yourself a good letter?
 

relentless11

Going broke and loving it
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2001
1,584
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Originally posted by indigoblue
if you were in the position of that letter writer, would you write yourself a good letter?

Most definately. Why? THe professor seems to be a person who is very observant, and willing to help students out. At the very least, I think this was one of the most informative classes i've ever taken in my undergraduate/post-bacc career. Not many professors out there who can make class interesting in such a way that students can effectively learn and have fun at the same time.
 

LaurieB

Full Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 2, 2003
651
2
Chicago
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
Originally posted by relentless11
Regards to a humanities letter of recommendation, I can take some course this spring and scramble for a letter at the last minute. I would definately like to have a non-science letter of rec, but really I think the fact that my letters so far are strong in their own right, and the fact that i don't want more than 5-6 letters of rec, I should put a cap on it. Quality of quantity. Do you guys agree?

If you can't get a prof, you can always try a volunteer coordinator or former supervisor and save yourself the trouble of taking another class.
 

spaz

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Oct 26, 2003
191
0
Status (Visible)
Originally posted by relentless11
So anyway, I think i figured out my plan. First, i havnt' heard back from my OChem professor or the Women's studies professor. No big deal.

Secondly, I spoke with the microbiology prof about the upper division microbiology lab course offered in the spring. He say's that its full but people always drop out. He said I just have to be patient and hang around until I can get in. Which is perfectly fine...since its one of the nice things about being a post-bacc is that you have a lot of elbow room concerning these things. Therefore, i'm gonna take his lab course, do well in that class, and as him halfway through the spring quarter for a letter of rec.

Regards to a humanities letter of recommendation, I can take some course this spring and scramble for a letter at the last minute. I would definately like to have a non-science letter of rec, but really I think the fact that my letters so far are strong in their own right, and the fact that i don't want more than 5-6 letters of rec, I should put a cap on it. Quality of quantity. Do you guys agree?


There are some schools, such as Mount Sinai, that require a non-science letter. If you are planning to apply to these schools definitely try to hunt down your women's studies prof, e.g. go to her office hrs, or find out when she teaches so that you can talk to her in person. Profs aren't always good about reading their email.

Also try to contact another humanities prof in case you don't get one from the women's studies prof. When I was trying to get my letters last year, I contacted 3 science profs and 2 non-science. Which was good, b/c one of the non-science profs said she was inundated with LOR requests and couldn't do it for me. And 1 of the science profs flaked out on me.

You definitely want quality over quantity, but of the 4 letters that you already have, only 1 is from a prof that taught you. And it's these prof letters that are the most important in terms of fulfilling each school's requirements. I have a friend who was told post-interview that his letters didn't meet the requirements, so he had to scramble for another science prof. I don't think he's heard anything back from the school yet.

Also, even if you have 6 letters, you won't necessarily be sending all 6 to every school. mix and match....
 
I

indigoblue

try to get them early, too! you don't want to be scrambling at the last minute gathering those letters.
 

relentless11

Going broke and loving it
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2001
1,584
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Quick question, how many people out there who had letters of recs from humanities professors got it from an upper division course?

Clearly, getting one from an upper division course would look better but as a science major, its very rare that one would have the time or the prerequisites to take an upper division humanities course. Any info here would be most appreciated!
 

quideam

Too tired to complain
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Apr 17, 2003
1,397
9
39
NYC
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
I did, but I was a philosophy major...

HOWEVER, most 'upper level' humanities don't have pre-requisites; in other words, you can probably sign up for a junior or senior level class in political science or history or philosophy after only taking maybe one course in that department. So, it shouldn't be too tough to do that and then get a letter of rec from the professor....
 

relentless11

Going broke and loving it
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2001
1,584
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Originally posted by quideam
I did, but I was a philosophy major...

HOWEVER, most 'upper level' humanities don't have pre-requisites; in other words, you can probably sign up for a junior or senior level class in political science or history or philosophy after only taking maybe one course in that department. So, it shouldn't be too tough to do that and then get a letter of rec from the professor....

Crap thats right, History is a humanities class! LOL. Man i think i spent far too much time in the world of science. Hmmm good idea to finish that minor in US History I always wanted to do. Thanks!
 

Beth_yu

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Dec 3, 2003
102
0
Status (Visible)
Hmmm, my pre-med advisors told me different stories today.

Do all recommendation letter have to be from upper science classes?


I have 2 from lower level classes, 1 from humanities and 1 from PI's (engineering field) and 1 from PI's (biological sciences field)

Now she told me the lower level sciences one are useless...

I have no problem obtaining but the upper science course prof seems very reluctant. My friend went and asked one from him and he delayed it. It has been 2 months now and she still has got it yet...

Should I even bother to go get it?
 

spaz

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Oct 26, 2003
191
0
Status (Visible)
i don't remember if any schools specified that it had to be upper div science classes. but all of my prof letters came from upper div, since it was forever ago that i took lower div and i highly doubted that my lower div profs would remember me 2-3 years later...
 

relentless11

Going broke and loving it
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2001
1,584
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
My pre-med advisors have all said to get upper division for "class letters". If its a "personality letter" then it doesn't matter who you get it from. Doesn't even have to be academic.

The reason they told me was, if you got an A in a lower division class, then it doesn't really say much. Kinda the reason why if one has a 4.0, but only had the bare minimum of upper division classes to graduate, and a bunch of lower division classes, then its not that appearling to the adcoms.

I once took a lower division class for my own interests. It was a microbiology class, and there were these micro majors taking that class. You can pretty much bet that they asked a bunch of questions to appear smart...seeing how they took the upper division courses already. I'm sure they got A's and they also talked to the teacher a lot. So really i think lower division letters aren't useless, but ones from upper division professors certainly look better.

Anyway since this thread is still movnig along, here's whats new with my letter of rec harvest.

Well realized that Mt. Sinai said that one needs one from a humanities professor IF i'm not sending it as a commitee letter. Since I do have a advising commitee here, that is no longer a problem for me. However I will endeavor to get a humanities professor to write me one..since it just covers all bases.

But so far, the letters that are locked and loaded in:

1) Pediatrician
2) Research Professor/Med School Senior Faculty
3) US Army Staff Personnel

The ones pending

1) Professor-Upper Division Biomedical Engineernig Class

As for other letters, i'm still proceeding with that plan where I will take the micro lab to get a better grade. However, I will be taking other fun upper division classes next quarter like hematology, human immunology, and physiology labs, so I have plenty to choose from!

I'm going to try to hunt down a humanities class though, not sure what, but i'll find something. So I think the way it will work out is that I'll have about 5-6 letters of rec; one from a physician I shadowed, 1 from my research professor, one from my US Army bosses, 2 from upper division science professors, and hopefully 1 humanities. Personally i'll settle for a lower division humanities one, since I don't think I have time to be bogged down by upper division courses. However I will play with the idea for taking an upper division History class since I was a history minor.
 
About the Ads
This thread is more than 17 years old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.