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jhk43

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what do you guys consider to be a "good" LOR, by med school standards? like, all of them are ultimately going to say something good


LORS seem to be a waste of peoples time. is it the case where they expect you to have this caliber of letter, but anything out of the ordinary gets noticed?
 

ad_sharp

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I would say that a good LOR definitely does not have the impact that a bad one does. It's just another safety valve to make sure that the applicant isn't an crazed axe-murderer.
 

jtn

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A strong and solid letter of recommendation should have in BOLD letters on top:
"CONFIDENTIAL LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION FOR BLAH BLAH".

It should be from a writer who knows you for a long time (~1 year or +). This puts a lot of weigh since it tells the reader that this lettter is an accurate assessment of the applicant and shows committment. The writer should have a good command of the English language (no errors!). It should be 1 page max and up to the point. Never more.

If you want a great letter, you have to do more than just take their class. Go TA for them, do research for them, etc. so that you get a chance to know them and they will also get a chance to know you. This will give you an idea of whether or not to ask this person to write one for you and give the professor a chance to know you well enough to write a 1 page strong letter (he would have nothing to write about if you just took 1 class with him. You have to make it easy for him.) jtn.
 
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This bold letters thing is news to me. Sound like a good letter but nothing spectacular. All 4-5 letters can't be spectacular though. You can't TA or do research will all of them.
 

jlee9531

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i dont think LORs are a waste of time esp if you get them from people that know you very well. i know one of my letters from volunteering was very good and i was moved with some of the things she decided to put in there.

most letters will be average or decent. there will be a few awesome ones that will help get you the benefit of the doubt but also some bad ones that will serve as a red flag and screw you over.
 

bongsen

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How I was screwed:

I asked my biology professor in January my junior year before applying to med school if he would write one for me. He said sure. I ask to meet up and talk to him so I can give him my materials - personal statement, transcript, resume, etc. etc., no answer at all. Spring Break Rolls by - I contact, call and leave messages for his secretary, etc. etc.----no answer. MCAT rolls by - I'm kind of busy. Yet still no answer from him. I'm almost leaving for the summer....ahhh! I see him walking down the street talking to another professor while I'm walking the other way. He sees me and says "Hi". No answer. Does he not get anything? I was so mad I couldn't ask him there, yet so loyal that I didn't really dump him as a writer of my letter. So after more hard pressing (e-mails, phone calls saying i'm about to leave for the summer), I get an e-mail from him 2 days before I leave saying "I don't think we need to meet. I am busy grant writing and will do it after I finish it." (i.e. sometime in the summer while I'm sending off my applications :(

I haven't had this professor for 2 years, but he's seen what I've done around in my outside activities, and I did well in his class. If only he could have given me just even an hour, I feel he could have done such a better job.

One mistake of my life. Don't let it happen to you! :(
 

jtn

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Originally posted by AlreadyInDebt
jtn -

What an impressive acceptance record... have you thought of withdrawing from UCI in early May?
AlreadyInDebt, I will withdraw from UCI. Are you waiting to hear from them? I hope you get it. UCI is a great school. I love the place. My first choice was actually UCI, that is before I heard from UCSF. jtn.
 

matthew45

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I want to second one of the above poster's comments. A doc I shadowed who was on an AdComm once told me that letters of rec really only matter when they are (a) bad or negative or (b) from someone of particular standing. I met a guy one time whose letters were from the Chancellor of my school, the head of the Division of Biological Sciences, and the Chair of the Honors Department. Now that will get you somewhere.
 

traumamonkey

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i think it is true that letters of rec are only important if they stand out, and if they positively stand out they are still only of minor importance.
i had a letter from a former employer that was exceptionally good (i only know because it was read to me in my interviews on two different occasions). i guess they thought a lot of it or they wouldn't have mentioned it and certainly wouldn't have read it to me.
still, i got rejected from the school that the interviewer made the biggest deal out of it. he even told me how mcat scores were not as important (unless they were extreme one way or another) as LORs. perhaps it was all BS?

so sure you need good LORs, but they are just a drop in the bucket in the end.
 
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