Dismiss Notice
Check out the new Application Assistant, where you can calculate your LizzyM score, see how you rank compared to other applicants, and see a list of schools where similar students were accepted.

***** How bad is: 1 mediocre reference letter and 3 excellent ones ???

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by OneDoctor, 01.13.14.

  1. SDN is made possible through sponsorships and our volunteers. Learn about SDN's nonprofit mission.
  1. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    Hello all,

    I'm putting together my reference letters and I'm at crossroads !

    I have 3 excellent reference letters (1 from an instructor, one from PI, one from a physician) who can really comment positively on all aspects (from academic to interpersonal qualities etc) but my 4th reference letter (from another instructor) is very mediocre. He is going to only comment on my grade, critical thinking, and my academic capabilities, and not much about my interpersonal qualities.

    How bad would that be? Can my other 3 reference letters compensate? Do they want every single reference letter to be perfect? Would that really hurt my chances?

    I already graduated and don't have any other instructor to ask for.. I'm in a gap year, should I go back and take a course just to get a reference letter??

    Thanks!
     
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. SN12357

    SN12357 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    04.23.13
    Messages:
    1,701
    Status:
    Medical Student
    As long as it's positive, it shouldn't hurt. I got a letter like that just to have enough science letters (non science major, so I didn't have a lot of options). I had lots of other letters to detail my professional and interpersonal skills.

    You can also get letters from volunteer supervisors or bosses if you have them to round out that side of things.
     
    OneDoctor likes this.
  4. cookiemonsters

    cookiemonsters 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    02.13.13
    Messages:
    422
    I have been helping with admissions at my school for this past cycle (my first time doing so)... I would describe 90% of LOR's as positive but mediocre/generic, 8% as very positive that make me want to meet somebody, and 2% as really exceptional. Don't worry if one (or two) of your letters falls into that 90% category - in general, LOR's from people you only took classes with are generic.
     
    childofmercy and OneDoctor like this.
  5. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    Thank you !

    My university doesn't offer committee letters and this is only for schools that require minimum of 2 letters from instructors with whom you took a course with... One of the 2 instructors will comment very positively on everything, but the other instructor is just going to comment positively about my academic abilities and qualifications, but very generic and nothing exceptional.

    So you guys don't think I should go back to school and take a course just to get a "better" (perhaps a little bit better) reference letter? 3 excellent ones (I can say 2 of these 3 are REALLY good) + 1 average one doesn't hurt that much?

    Thanks again,
     
  6. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    You are right, I only took one class with him, he agrees to write me one but told me that "he is not sure how well he can comment on my interpersonal skills because he doesn't know me personally that much"

    I can go back to school and take a course again and this time try to interact with the prof a lot more, but it is still going to be from somebody I only took a course with..
     
  7. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    Do you guys know how I can get some opinions from ADCOMS / advisors like @LizzyM ? I really need to figure out whether or not I should take a course
     
  8. NuttyEngDude

    NuttyEngDude Red-Flagville 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    10.28.10
    Messages:
    2,228
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Rocket
    Scientist
    If you know FOR SURE you have 3 excellent ones and a mediocre one, then leave the mediocre one out (unless it's a required letter like how some schools ask for humanities letters or something). This is because you will already have the required # of letters and the mediocre ones leaves a flat impression after reading the excellent ones.

    BUT, usually people in our position do not have the insight to know how good or how bad these letters are so it is probably best to just "risk it" being a good letter due to the statistics (rare for there to be a "bad" letter).
     
    CW 2010 likes this.
  9. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    Thanks a lot for your reply. I know for sure that the other 3 are excellent, the mediocre one is required because some schools require letters from instructors you took a course with (not research), so I have no option but to include that one if I want to apply. (I currently have only 1 letter from an instructor)

    Do you suggest I should go back to school, enrol in a course this winter term, just to get to know a prof and get a possibly better letter? Or that's too much and a mediocre won't hurt?
     
  10. NuttyEngDude

    NuttyEngDude Red-Flagville 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    10.28.10
    Messages:
    2,228
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Rocket
    Scientist
    I dont know your app, but chances are that is overkill for something that might not be bad at all and the time, energy and money can be spent improving something else like EC's, mcat score, etc.
     
  11. nemo123

    nemo123 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    07.22.11
    Messages:
    2,025
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Is your physician LOR from someone you shadowed only? If so, I don't think that letter will hold much weight.
     
  12. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    no research and shadow
     
  13. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    06.10.10
    Messages:
    29,276
    Location:
    Somewhere west of St. Louis
    Status:
    Non-Student
    Verified
    Faculty
    It will be OK. I once saw one that basically said "Jill X was my student".

    The key phrase for all of you to remember is "Do you know me well enough to write a good LOR?"



     
  14. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    Thanks Goro !

    So in this case, you don't recommend me going back to school to take a course, go to the classes, just to get to know a prof who can give me a better letter? Will my other 3 letters compensate?
     
  15. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    My referee said I don't know you personally so I can't comment on your interpersonal qualities but I can write you a letter and comment on your academic capabilities etc.....

    I hoping he is not going to say anything negative, he probably will write a generic one, not sure how much that will hurt tho
     
  16. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    06.10.10
    Messages:
    29,276
    Location:
    Somewhere west of St. Louis
    Status:
    Non-Student
    Verified
    Faculty
    Yup, your three good ones will >>> one mediocre one.
    Good luck!

     
    OneDoctor likes this.
  17. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    06.10.10
    Messages:
    29,276
    Location:
    Somewhere west of St. Louis
    Status:
    Non-Student
    Verified
    Faculty
    Oh, that will be fine. People do that a lot. A testimonial that you've done well in class, that you're in the top X % is always good.

     
  18. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    What a relief ! Thanks a lot man...

    This way I can save 700$ or so, and spend more time on my MCAT...

    or I can spend the same number of hours that I would on a course to get a letter, volunteer somewhere and gain valuable experience....

    hopefully that doesn't raise a red flag for the adcoms...

    thanks again, I feel much much much better now :D
     
  19. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    any other suggestions/opinions?
     
  20. kkosp2451

    kkosp2451 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    10.18.13
    Messages:
    237
    Random question...but how do you guys know when someone is going to write you a good LOR vs. an exceptional LOR? is it by their enthusiasm when you ask them? do they confer with you about anything they will write? any LOR i've asked anyone for in the past has kinda seemed like a blind shot...
     
  21. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    I personally spoke with them and have a good idea about what they are going to write, but you need to be very very close to them.

    My last letter that I'm seeking help about here, is the only one where I have no idea what he is going to write ...

    Really guys, how bad is a letter that says Student X was in my class, he is in the top 5%, he definitely can handle the rigorous and challenging curriculum of medical school and can succeed, and I recommend him...... how bad are such letters??
     
  22. kkosp2451

    kkosp2451 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    10.18.13
    Messages:
    237
    Granted, I'm very new, but that doesn't sound like a bad letter to me at all....
     
  23. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    Still, thanks a lot for your comment ! I really appreciate it
     
  24. musicalMD

    musicalMD

    Joined:
    04.20.13
    Messages:
    57
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    I am having the same problem being a non science major! I know I will get a great letter from my chem lab professor- but don't know another science professor well enough to get a really good letter. I wish they only required one science letter!
     
  25. OneDoctor

    OneDoctor

    Joined:
    12.29.13
    Messages:
    83
    We are on the same boat man.... don't know what to do!
     
  26. SN12357

    SN12357 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    04.23.13
    Messages:
    1,701
    Status:
    Medical Student
    You should know exactly what to do. You've gotten excellent advice in this thread. I don't understand why you seem to be ignoring it; every single rec letter doesn't have to reflect every single positive thing about you. I had letters in my packet that spoke solely to my academics and others that were entirely about my interpersonal qualities/professionalism in volunteering, etc. An application is a holistic thing and your constant fixation on this one letter is...odd. It would be different if the prof had indicated that you were going to get a BAD letter, but what you describe is actually a good (although narrowly focused) academic letter.

    @musicalMD, were there any TAs that knew you fairly well? One of my letters was written by the TA who knew me and then cosigned by the prof. Worked well.
     

About the ads

Share This Page