Letters of recommendation from science faculty?


Full Member
Dec 19, 2013
East Lansing, Michigan
  1. Medical Student
    I attend Michigan State University and the classes are extremely large. It is near impossible to have a relationship with a science professor. Should I contact professors whose classes I have succeeded in to meet with me and potentially write a letter for me or how is the best way to go about this?


    The Gimlet Eye
    Verified Expert
    15+ Year Member
    Sep 4, 2006
    The Other Side of the Portal
    1. Attending Physician
      E-mail and request a meeting appointment to talk about your future. Make sure to bring your resume, and if available, bring your MCAT scores/personal statement.

      Also bring an unofficial copy of your transcript and maybe a photo to help them recall you after you leave the meeting. If you wrote a paper for the class, bring that, too.

      Ideally the meeting would be about half an hour long, so the prof can "get to know you" which results in a more personal touch to the letter if they agree to write it. Into the conversation perhaps insert reminders of contributions you made to class discussion, a cogent argument you'd made, or a mention of a project you did for the class, besides a reminder of your grade.

      It's important to ask at the end, "Do you feel you could write me a strong letter of support for my med school application?" If they hem or haw in any way, or seem reluctant, or say it might take three months, then don't count on that letter being as glowing as you'd wish. Move on and ask someone else.

      It's a very common problem in large schools with huge lecture halls that you don't get to know your professors personally. Why should professors go out of their way to help out someone they barely know? Because it reflects well on the reputation of the school to be able to report successful med school application statistics, which helps attract other strong candidates to the school.

      The primary reason for the letter is to gain commentary on your academic prowess. If this means asking a TA, then so be it, if no viable professorial-ranked option exists. Such a letter can still be of great value if their higher-level supervisor were to cosign the letter with their credentials added, or even without, if the letter is strong and personal enough.

      As you review your options for faculty to approach, keep in mind that for AMCAS purposes, math is looked at as a "science."
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