If you've been rejected by a school, is it appropriate to call them and ask why?

ortnakas

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If you do it politely and professionally-- and to improve your future applications, not as a convoluted plea to reconsider-- it's worth a shot.

You might learn something that will help you improve your application this cycle, or if you choose to re-apply to that school next cycle.

They might not be helpful, or they might have a policy against feedback, but as long as you're polite about it, worst that can happen is they say no.
 
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Some schools have official instructions on how and when to request rejection info so look at their websites before emailing or calling and follow procedures if they have them. It definitely if you do it well can give you great feedback on what your need to strengthen your app.
 
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Will they give you any sort of straight answer?
Most likely they won't tell you why they turned you away because many schools actually turn away people they like. Choosing a student is like pulling a card from a deck for many admissions folks since many students are virtually equal, so they won't tell you that you were deficient or something. If you got rejected after the interview, my guess is that the interview went poorly. These are people after all and maybe the people interviewing you did not like you.
 

Marrowist

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Go for it.
 

Goro

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I agree, but want to add that one should ask for feedback, not advice.

And keep in mind that sometimes the Admissions folks can't give an honest answer. "Your interview sucked will be replaced by "You could have been more passionate" or, "We were worried about your MCAT score".

You will never, ever be told that you have a bad LOR.


If you do it politely and professionally-- and to improve your future applications, not as a convoluted plea to reconsider-- it's worth a shot.

You might learn something that will help you improve your application this cycle, or if you choose to re-apply to that school next cycle.

They might not be helpful, or they might have a policy against feedback, but as long as you're polite about it, worst that can happen is they say no.
 

Marrowist

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@Goro, have you ever seen a bad LOR? As in malicious? "This guy sucks, do NOT accept him...", that kind of thing.
 

Goro

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Nothing that vicious.

I personally see bad LORs about 1 a year. They're super rare. And they're more like one lethal line in the text like "not a team player"...."always late for lab"..."blamed team mates for poor group grade".

I've personally written three for graduate students I've overseen...and they were honest evaluations of very weak candidates for my or any other med school.

When I was a post-doc, there was a student in the lab I'll call "HR". HR never did any work, and was as vicious as a rattlesnake....would turn on you in a second. A Mexican friend and I called her "La Serpiente" (look it up).

She called me a few years later and told me that she might list me a reference. She apparently never did...too bad. I was looking forward into sticking the knife into her!


@Goro, have you ever seen a bad LOR? As in malicious? "This guy sucks, do NOT accept him...", that kind of thing.
 
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I've seen a few letters with lines like "this student performed adequately" "was in the middle of the class academically" "his work was acceptable." All of which get the point across.

My now former university told us to avoid writing "bad" LORS as someone could potentially come back and sue later and the legal dept didn't want the aggravation, so instead of a bad one just refuse to provide such.
 

sdhere1234

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Nothing that vicious.

I personally see bad LORs about 1 a year. They're super rare. And they're more like one lethal line in the text like "not a team player"...."always late for lab"..."blamed team mates for poor group grade".

I've personally written three for graduate students I've overseen...and they were honest evaluations of very weak candidates for my or any other med school.

When I was a post-doc, there was a student in the lab I'll call "HR". HR never did any work, and was as vicious as a rattlesnake....would turn on you in a second. A Mexican friend and I called her "La Serpiente" (look it up).

She called me a few years later and told me that she might list me a reference. She apparently never did...too bad. I was looking forward into sticking the knife into her!
Now would you still do this if someone asked verbatim "would you be willing to write me a positive letter of recommendation?"

Or would you just turn them away that point.
 

Goro

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If framed that way, I would say, "I 'm sorry, but I don't think I can write you a good LOR."

Now would you still do this if someone asked verbatim "would you be willing to write me a positive letter of recommendation?"

Or would you just turn them away that point.
 
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I've you've received a few interview invites(>4) can you safely say that your LoRs are not malignant? Or is it still possible that there may be one bad/neutral letter in the stack?
Odds are good your LORs are overall fine. It is rare that someone writes a bad lor, as most people tend to not ask those who would write a bad one. People also don't want to waste time on someone they dislike. Often I've found the quality of the lor says more about the writer than the applicant. Why are you worried about a bad LOR? When in doubt the best suggestion is don't ask someone.

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Well guys, I tried calling. the call went directly to voicemail where i was told that I can't leave a voice mail so i was immediately disconnected.

It seems I'm likely not the only person trying to contact the admissions office hahaha
 

LutGholein

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Odds are good your LORs are overall fine. It is rare that someone writes a bad lor, as most people tend to not ask those who would write a bad one. People also don't want to waste time on someone they dislike. Often I've found the quality of the lor says more about the writer than the applicant. Why are you worried about a bad LOR? When in doubt the best suggestion is don't ask someone.

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Thank you for response! I was primarily worried not necessarily about a bad LoR but rather neutral in the sense that you often have schools requiring letters from core-science professors and your classes are lecture halls filled with ~300 people so it's hard to make that lasting impression even if you did well in the course!

edit: just got another interview invite right now!! so i'm gonna let my mild-neuroticism take a back seat!
 

Marrowist

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Where was your invite??
Thank you for response! I was primarily worried not necessarily about a bad LoR but rather neutral in the sense that you often have schools requiring letters from core-science professors and your classes are lecture halls filled with ~300 people so it's hard to make that lasting impression even if you did well in the course!

edit: just got another interview invite right now!! so i'm gonna let my mild-neuroticism take a back seat!
 
Apr 25, 2014
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Thank you for response! I was primarily worried not necessarily about a bad LoR but rather neutral in the sense that you often have schools requiring letters from core-science professors and your classes are lecture halls filled with ~300 people so it's hard to make that lasting impression even if you did well in the course!

edit: just got another interview invite right now!! so i'm gonna let my mild-neuroticism take a back seat!
Typical premed anxiety, at this point let things go (as much as you can...lol) that are out of your control and focus on things you can do something about.
 
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JoeUSA

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Will they give you any sort of straight answer?

I doubt it. It is too risky for the school to answer that question.

There are more qualified applicants than seats. Therefore, many qualified people are rejected.