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letters of rec - how long does the prof have to know you?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by pyra, Jun 13, 2001.

  1. pyra

    pyra Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2001
    I am taking a physical biochem class in the summer and the class size will be very small plus there is a research report/presentation (more chances for evaluation of my work). Should I ask the prof. for a rec. letter even though the class is only 5 weeks long? I think the prof. knows me well since the class is really small.
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  3. ILoveThaiFood

    ILoveThaiFood Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 12, 2001
    Summer classes may cover only a few weeks, the number of hours in which you spend with your classmates and prof is comparable to a regular semester/quarter class (depending on the units). I asked for a rec letter from a prof whom I had taken only one class from (quarter system, so only 10 weeks long). Though I didn't get to see the letter (but I got into several schools), I asked her if she felt comfortable writing a letter for me and whether it would be strong and positive . So, I believe what's most important is that you ask your prof those questions. However, it might not be a good idea to have all of your letter written by people who knew you for short period of time. Good luck!
  4. Becket

    Becket Senior Member 15+ Year Member

    Sep 15, 2000
    Definitely ask. I got a rec from a bio prof that with whom I took a 3 week lab course during winter break. There were only about 20 people in the class, so he really got to know people well and actually encouraged us to ask him for a rec if we needed it. If the letter is strong, schools won't care how long the course was.
  5. ewells

    ewells Big Daddy 7+ Year Member

    I am concerned with my letters of rec. I want to get two of them from professors at community college. My pre-health advisor told me it is not a great idea, but I know them very well. On the other hand, since I transferred to a university, I have not had a science class with less than two hundred people in it. I also have less time to spend on campus than I used to. I am worried thet if I asked one of these teachers for a rec I would get a dreaded "He got an A, but I do not know this student" letter. Any advice?
  6. lilycat

    lilycat Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2000
    Go ahead and get the letters from your 2 community college profs, but try to get at least one letter from one of your university profs as well. One way to go about this may be through a TA -- many times you will have interacted more closely with your TA since sections are far smaller than the lectures --if you have a TA you knew somewhat well and who you got along well with, see if they would be interested in writing the rec and if the prof could co-sign it. I did this for one of my chem classes and I think it worked out okay. Obviously the best scenario is to have the prof write it, but it will be very obvious if they don't know you well, and in my opinion it is better to have a strong letter from a "lesser" source than a vague unimpressive letter from a more major source.

    Also, to all of you upcoming applicants -- once you start sending out letters of rec -- CALL TWO WEEKS AFTER THEY WERE SENT TO MAKE SURE THEY WERE RECEIVED!!!!!!! I had two schools that lost my letters of rec, and in one case it ended up costing me an interview essentially, because I didn't follow up on it quickly enough.
  7. tbachi

    tbachi Member 10+ Year Member

    May 26, 2000
    Lexington, KY, USA
    I am getting recs from one prof that has known me for 2 years, another only knew me for 6 months, and the last only knew me for 3 months as a summer job. I think it shows the kinds of impressions you can make in different amounts of time and different situations. I thought by mixing it up a little it would give different means of evaluating me. Any amount of time will work as long as the letter will be strong! Good luck and I'm sure your letters will be fine.
  8. ewells

    ewells Big Daddy 7+ Year Member

    Thanks lilycat. I am getting a non science rec from my university. My prehealth advisor recently sat in on an adcom meeting and told me that your clinical/research letters are more important than the academic ones. The commitee members would look at the grades/MCAT and say "alright, alright, we know he/she is a good student, we don't need teachers telling us this as well." Still, since they are required I want the best ones I can get.

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