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Graduate Students and Letters of Rec.

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Darwin, Aug 28, 2001.

  1. Darwin

    Darwin 10+ Year Member

    Aug 18, 2001
    HMS Beagle
    For those of you who are graduate students: I am looking for some opinions on a situation I just realized about the letters of rec. Most of the schools I've sent secondaries to have stated that they, of course, would prefer a committee letter. So I went through the committee and got one. Now that all is said and done, I've noticed that most state a committee letter from your undergraduate institution. I got one from the premedical advisory committee of my graduate institution. Of course the committee advises undergrads. as well...I went through the same process they did as a graduate student. Has anyone else done this and found it to be acceptable? I'm a bit worried that I'll have to reapply next year because my committee letter is from the wrong institution. Is the word "undergraduate" just listed because they didn't think of the possibility of getting one from a "graduate" institution (which should be the exact same thing since it's a unbiased committee evaluation), or do they absolutely require one from undergrad. Anyone else in the same boat?
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  3. mdhopeful

    mdhopeful Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 2001
    Los Angeles
    i did my committee letter through my undergrad institution and had my graduate letters send to the same committee. haven't hand any problems yet and don't expect to. for schools that ask for a Undergrad committee letter/packet and separate grad letters, i've just written (attached to undergrad committee letter). i suspect that if you did it through you grad institution and had your undergrad letters sent there, then you should not have any problems. just note anywhere you can that the letters are all from a committee. they do not care who does the composite letter as long as it contains letters from undergrad and grad. good luck.
  4. kutastha

    kutastha 2K Member Physician 10+ Year Member

    Jun 24, 2001
    I'm not sending any letters from undergrad. I think they'd rather have current letters rather than ones from profs who knew you several years ago. I think you'll be fine with your graduate committee letter.

  5. kobe8

    kobe8 Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Staples Center
    I would have to agree with kutastha. I did not get a committee letter, rather I sent letters from faculty members at my graduate institution. Remember, you want your letters of recc to speak on your potential as a future physician at this stage in you life, not as an undergrad. The only individuals who can honestly and fairly access this is your graduate professors. While a committee letter is "preferred", I think that request is more for undergrads rather than grad students like ourselves. As I am sure we all feel, we have grown both personally and academically since our undergrad days. Your letters must represent that.
  6. sandflea

    sandflea Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 23, 2001
    i was told that the idea behind specifying 'undergraduate' is that adcoms want evaluations of you during the time you were taking your pre-med courses. not only that, but college is 4+ years (or 3 for some) of intense work, and there are plenty of courses and learning opportunities from which a good evaluation could be written.

    so, in my opinion, what you send depends on the perspective from which you want the adcoms to view you. if you weren't interested in medicine at all during your undergrad, or you're many years removed from undergrad, for example, then i could see you leaving out any undergrad letters. but it seems to me that you're letting a huge chunk of your education go 'unaddressed' if you do that without a valid reason. maybe it would seem suspicious?

    i was advised to send BOTH my undergrad committee letter and a few strong graduate/employer letters as a way of updating the adcoms on what i've done since undergrad. i also added a letter to my undergrad file from a professor that i've known since undergrad and continue to keep in touch with. that way, there are people who can vouch for me and my potential for medicine across the whole spectrum of my post-secondary academic career. i was told to handle it this way and it makes sense to me. if you think about it, if you apply to med school your senior year of college and you send a rec letter written your freshman year, it's already several years old and not only may the professor not even remember you anymore, you may have grown as a person dramatically in the years since the letter was written. so i think the 'age' of the letter is less of a concern if it's strong.

    anyway, to answer your question, darwin, if you're within a few years of college, i would throw in a few undergrad letters if you have them or can get some good ones in addition to your graduate stuff. if you're many years removed from college and have firmly 'established' yourself as more than just a student, then i would think undergrad letters matter less. but this is just my opinion, and i would call the schools you're applying to to find out what they prefer.
  7. Darwin

    Darwin 10+ Year Member

    Aug 18, 2001
    HMS Beagle
    Thanks for the responses. So I called all 24 schools I've applied to, and here's the deal: most don't care, and will take the graduate committee letter in lieu of my unergraduate letters. However, Harvard (required since I did research as an undergrad), MCPH, NYMC and UCSD are completely unwilling to budge with this. They have stated that there's no way around this, and that in order for my app. to be complete I must meet the undergraduate letter requirements. My undergrad does not have a committee, so that means I now have to go back and ask professors to write letters on my behalf, many of which don't even know me. You would think these schools would like letters from professors who know you, no matter at what stage in your education but some schools are unwilling to budge. Thanks again for your input guys.

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