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Mar 1, 2019
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@LizzyM @gyngyn @Goro would also appreciate your feedback on my situation, thanks so much!

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If the letter is indeed crucial, are there steps I can take in order to minimize the risk / potential damage from it?
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Does your hobby inherently imply that there's a coach involved? To me, an average LOR is one thing, but a genuinely lackluster one is a whole nother beast and it's def concerning that you feel the hobby LOR wouldn't be positive. It seems risky to me. Also, I personally doubt that not having a LOR for a hobby is going to raise any red flags—your interest, experiences and accomplishments should speak well enough for it.

It's fine for your non-science letter to come from a professor from a 1 semester class. My only non-science letter was also from a humanities professor who I knew for a couple of months—I was on speaking terms with but wasn't particularly close to them. It must've been a perfectly acceptable letter anyways because I've had a great cycle so far, and I imagine you'll be better off than me in this regard as it sounds like you're very close to the LOR writer.
Bump would really appreciate advice on this, thanks!
Have you talked to the coach? Have you asked him if he can write you a very strong letter of rec for your application to med school? Other than asking and then trusting or going with your gut I’m not sure there is anything else you can do about the letter or using it. You have to decide. Talk to him and see what he says and how you feel. If he hesitates or says no you have your answer. Good luck!
@candbgirl : If I were to end up not using the letter (which is still up in the air), would that reflect badly given my experience with this activity?
It’s hard to say because we have no idea what the activity is or how much of an impact it has in your application. If the letter truly is just average and you make a big deal about the activity in your application a reader might wonder about the disconnect. It’s a tough situation mainly because of the focus you plan to place on it. On the other hand it sounds like this activity would help you stand out from other applicants. Have you talked to the coach? Is there an assistant coach? If you are absolutely gut sure I wouldn’t use the letter! Be prepared to answer why you didn’t use his letter in case you are asked in interviews.
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@candbgirl : Thank you for the feedback. Would you have any tips on how to let your writers know to emphasize certain, specific qualities that you hope are talked about (as a random example, motivation) without going too far / coming off as pushy? I think this letter writer may have written a very 'resume-like' letter for me in the past (based on what he told me previously) which he may have thought was strong but is probably going to reflect badly.
As another question, do all letters need to be 'walk-on-water' type stunning for top 10 schools? E.g. say you have 6 letters total, 2 are 'walk-on-water' type good, 3 are strong but slightly lower than the previous (e.g. very positive with specific examples but not anything ultra incredible), 1 positive but slightly generic letter.
@dodolol21 : Thanks! Do you have any insights about my situation regarding the letter / if it would hurt a lot to not use it?
I will be applying to research-oriented MD programs this upcoming cycle (currently a Junior). LizzyM in high 70's w/ 4.0, strong research for Top 20's (I think? No publications but have Goldwater), okay clinical experience (not a ton but passable). I go to a state school that is ranked highly in public schools.

I have a hobby that I have spent a lot of time on and taken to a very high level (big int'l awards etc.) during college (starting much earlier actually but for the purposes of MD applications since Freshman year), and will definitely be one of my most meaningful activities on my AMCAS.

The 'coach' I have been working with since Freshman year started off really liking me, but ever since a couple of semesters ago (I believe he had some family issues) he has been subtly treating me differently, and my instincts very strongly tell me that he does not like me as much as he used to (stuff like the way he looks / talks at me, etc.). Some of his actions also subtly give me this impression for some reason.

The most letters that I will need for any school that I plan to apply to is 6; I"m not worried about the other letters but this one.

My question is, would it look weird / raise a red flag if I did not end up submitting this letter for MD applications? I do have one exceptional and personal non-science letter, but this was a shorter-term relationship (just a couple of months for a humanities class) from Sophomore year so I do realize that it does not hold as much weight as a longer-term relationship letter. Also, this shorter-term letter would be my only non-science letter (the rest would be research / academics). So in other words, I'm not sure how (1) having only a short-term non-science / character letter would look, no matter how exceptional, (2) how omitting a long-term non-science / character letter for a most meaningful activity (with a lot of achievements) would come off.

Apologies for the long question, and I appreciate all of your feedback!

@LizzyM @gyngyn @Goro would also appreciate your feedback on my situation, thanks so much!

A letterwriter for one of my most meaningful activities was unable to write a letter (although for different reasons). Concern about this was never brought up at interviews. I doubt it had any negative impact on my app cycle whatsoever. I think you’d be okay omitting the letter you’re concerned about.
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@ReggieVeggie : Thank you for letting me know! If you're comfortable sharing, was this activity for a science-related activity, and if it would have been a personal reference, did you have another personal reference from a lengthier relationship?
@ReggieVeggie : Thank you for letting me know! If you're comfortable sharing, was this activity for a science-related activity, and if it would have been a personal reference, did you have another personal reference from a lengthier relationship?

Sure, it was non-science and would have likely been my strongest character reference letter. Would have been nice to have this one, but unfortunately it didn’t pan out.

I didn’t have any other long term non-science letters, just one from an experience that lasted less than one year.