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how important are LoRs?

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kindred4545

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I'm just genuinely curious how important good letters of recommendations are or if they're just another thing to check off. i took a lot of time trying to form good relationships with my professors, but if schools don't even read them or glance over them, are they that worth it?
 

peridotthecat

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My impression is that for the vast majority of applications, they're a way for the adcom to sniff out obvious red flags. Most profs won't write a negative LoR and most won't say anything incredibly useful, but you want to have them to show the adcom that you're a reasonable/responsible/intelligent person in the eyes of another person.

Getting to know your profs can also have other benefits, both in terms of academics and for EC opportunities, plus they can write letters for research opportunities/jobs/fellowships/etc. where they might be read more thoroughly. I got my gap year job through one of my profs.
 

CyrilFiggis

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When you're being judged against thousands of applicants with similar grades and similar and/or better ECs and personal statements, character witnesses, aka Letters of Rec, are the only other arrow in your quiver. This is no different in the real world.
 
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fouracle

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Yeah I agree with periodotthecat. I get the vibe that most applicants won't be BFFs with their professors, so the letters won't be especially spectacular. The idea is to get an above average, not-totally-generic letter from professors whose courses you did well in and participated in. It helps if you went to office hours etc. I'm pretty sure for most applicants schools won't be able to glean THAT much positive stuff from letters, but WILL be able to glean a lot of negative stuff if those things are present.
 

gonnif

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Like almost anything else in this process; a bad LOR can hurt alot more than a good one can help.
Much of medical school admissions is a negative process; that is they are looking need to cut at least 80% of the applicants prior to interview at any individual medical school. So having a clear reason, such a negative LOR (as opposed to an appropriate critical evaluation) can get you rejected quickly. However, as has been said previously, few people will write you a blatantly negative review of you.
 
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GrumpyMS

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A LOR lets the adcom get an insight of you, you performance, personality etc. from your writer. Instead of just a bunch of numbers they see someone else, evaluation of you. A good rec would certainty help a bit such as getting an II vs a straight reject if you are borderline, but don't forget a bad letter would certainly kill your chances.
 
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Goro

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I'm just genuinely curious how important good letters of recommendations are or if they're just another thing to check off. i took a lot of time trying to form good relationships with my professors, but if schools don't even read them or glance over them, are they that worth it?
We read every one of them and they don't necessarily make you, unless they're all glowing.

But a single bad LOR can break you.
 
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Vinny15

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We read every one of them and they don't necessarily make you, unless they're all glowing.

But a single bad LOR can break you.
Could you explain what would constitute a bad letter?
 

Goro

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Could you explain what would constitute a bad letter?
"Not a team player"
"Not reliable"
one LOR said, in so many words, "was too much of a control freak and didn't trust teammates in group assignments."
Less than stellar scores from committee LORs badly hurt (for example, only getting a recommend, when the best is "enthusiastically recommend", or best 3 of possible 5 score)
"had trouble staying focused"

One writer wrote outright "this person should not be a doctor"

I see maybe one bad LOR a year. They're indeed rare.
 

GrumpyMS

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one LOR said, in so many words, "was too much of a control freak and didn't trust teammates in group assignments."
I don't know how my school missed it but there is someone like that in my class right now.

Plus Goro like my comment?!? My life is complete now.
 
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ariri

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I don't know how my school missed it but there is someone like that in my class right now.

Plus Goro like my comment?!? My life is complete now.

:soexcited: double-liked!
 
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DBC03

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Could you explain what would constitute a bad letter?

One of my professors told me point blank that if he doesn't like a student, he "accidentally" copies and pastes another letter for a different student and leaves the other student's name in.

He said he wrote me a very strong letter. I don't know if I should be happy or be afraid. Be very very afraid...
 

ariri

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Also, I know this was addressed in posts from previous years, but I wanted to confirm that turning in LoRs later than the 2 week mark is STILL not negatively remarked upon? I'm waiting for my PI to send in his letter because he's out sailing until the second week of August :/
 

SuaveCardigans

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One of my professors told me point blank that if he doesn't like a student, he "accidentally" copies and pastes another letter for a different student and leaves the other student's name in.

He said he wrote me a very strong letter. I don't know if I should be happy or be afraid. Be very very afraid...
Thats a d*%$ move. If you dont like a student, have the guts to tell them and not agree to write a letter. Dont jeopardize a year and thousands of their dollars, especially because they will most likely never find out what went wrong.
 
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Lucca

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In the 2011 AAMC adcom survey, letters of rec were given an importance of 3.4 and 3.8 out of 5.0 for making decisions before and after the interview, respectively.

https://www.aamc.org/download/261106/data/

Letters are a little less important than stats pre interview and a little more than stats post interview.
 

DBC03

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Thats a d*%$ move. If you dont like a student, have the guts to tell them and not agree to write a letter. Dont jeopardize a year and thousands of their dollars, especially because they will most likely never find out what went wrong.

Definitely. He justified it by stating that it's reserved only for students who cheated or basically lied to his face about something, but there might be better ways to deal with that.


Sent from my iPad using SDN mobile
 

Doctor-S

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If the LOR is stellar and provides substantive examples of stellar performance/potential as an aspiring physician, it will benefit the applicant.

If the LOR is generic, vague or lukewarm, it isn't going to benefit the applicant.

If the LOR hints at anything "negative," it may be very detrimental to the applicant (and this is especially true if the other LORs are equally negative, lukewarm or generic).

TL/DR: choose your letter writers carefully.
 
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