rabbott1971

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OK so I see many applicants struggling to get their LORs squared away. This advice will help you and your letter-writers.

Big Picture: you need to make it as easy as possible for your letter-writer.

So how do you do this? For each of my letter-writers, I prepared the following:

1. A letter to them (a physical, paper letter, not an e-mail) in which I:
a. Reiterated my previous in-person comments that I appreciated and enjoyed their class. Flattery is not objectionable when it is sincere and heartfelt.
b. Briefly described my application, asked them for their help in preparing LOR.
c. Explained the exact mechanics of how to send the letter, i.e. the exact addresses where the letter would go, AMCAS/AACOMAS forms needing to go with it, etc.
d. Recalled for the letter-writer some of the details of our relationship, such as my participation in class, a project I submitted, that I never missed a class, that I helped clean lab, whatever else there is. Reciting your accomplishments will not be viewed as conceited bragging. THIS IS CRUCIAL, don't make them scratch their head about you! Remember, they have to write something, so help them recall your accomplishments, so the letter won't be a struggle.

2. Physical envelopes, addressed to AMCAS/AACOMAS or individual schools (depends on your situation), and bearing the name and return address of the letter-writer, with postage (stamps) affixed. Figure out how to print envelopes, or go to Kinko's. This step impresses your letter-writers, and is key to the "make it easy" plan, so don't skip it.

3. AMCAS/AACOMAS letter request forms should be printed and should already be in the appropriate envelope that you give to your letter-writer. Mention the presence of these forms in your letter to the professor, and let them know, the forms are already in the envelopes for your convenience.

These items were all delivered to the letter-writer in person, to give them an opportunity to request more things, or ask questions, as well as to recall my face to them and help their memory. As unforgettable as we all believe we are, these professors churn through a lot of snowflakes, so refresh yourself to them.

4. Follow up with an email, expressing gratitude, respectfully suggesting a deadline, and attaching additional items submitted for your letter-writer (see next). It will be best if you give your letter-writer this stuff and ask that the letter come fairly soon thereafter. Else your stuff goes into a drawer, or under a pile, and can get forgotten. In other words, don't give it to them and ask that they sit on it for three months. Give it when they have three or four weeks to get it done, and ask that it be done then. They understand, and its not pushy, its responsible.

5. Attach to your email anything else you want that will help the letter-writer. A good suggestion is attach all the forms and information you supplied to your pre-med committee. If you have a C.V. you might attach this as well. But you could just as easily attach a good report you wrote for your professor, or something similar. Even if they never look at this stuff, they will appreciate the fact that you tried to make their job easier.

Now what have you accomplished? You have given your professor a little warm fuzzy feeling with some flattery, impressed her with your professionalism and consideration, and you have MADE IT EASY. I think most college professors would be happy to simply print a letter, stuff it in an envelope, and toss it in the departmental mailbox and be done. It is possible some of them would rather use an electronic service. If they prefer this option, and say so to you, then you need to send them the electronic version of your AMCAS/AACOMAS letter request forms.

Basically guys, you need to be putting yourself in the shoes of your letter-writer, and thinking to yourself, how can I make this process as absolutely effortless as possible for this person. You need to understand the entire process, and anticipate your letter-writers' needs.

Not only will this get your letter out much faster, it will also put your letter-writer in a happy place when they think about you to write the letter. Do you want your letter-writer to have had a frustrating hassle, or a smooth easy process, right before drafting a letter about you?

You need to remember that this is YOUR responsibility, not something you dump on a professor and sit back and impatiently wait for it to ripen with no further effort on your part. No. You take charge, you get the stuff ready, you follow up, you get it done. If a letter-writer is not getting on it, let them know that you thank them but you understand they are simply too busy and you have found someone else to write the letter. This is your responsibility, so handle it with the same care you put into other aspects of your application.

Good luck!
 
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rabbott1971

rabbott1971

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You can't save any steps beyond the process of (1) print letter, (2) put in pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelope, (3) drop in mail. Interfolio (like all other internet portals) requires an account to be set up, numbers to be plugged in to match the student, etc. It is not the easiest or simplest, particularly for academics.

And the steps saved on the part of the student is not the point here. The student should take pains to make it easier for the letter-writer, not for herself. Nonetheless, I mentioned that if the letter-writer prefers electronic, go with it.
 
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DameJulie

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This is a useful guide, thanks for writing all this up!
 
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DrHart

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I think the primary benefit for using Interfolio is that you can request a letter several months before AMCAS opens. May/June is a very busy time for professors (end of classes, exams, grading, etc.) If you ask for a letter in December and give your writer a few months, it makes for a smoother process.

On the professor's end, I think Interfolio is an easier process to follow than AMCAS. Just my 2c.
 
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rabbott1971

rabbott1971

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There are definitely individual preferences, so thanks for your comment. Interfolio is just another way to submit your letter to AMCAS. What is the AMCAS process that you don't like as well?

So, if you are doing Interfolio, then your students must email you the AMCAS letter request form, and you include that in your electronic submission? What do you like to get from students as far as their accomplishments, etc.?
 

ClamChowderrr

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You can't save any steps beyond the process of (1) print letter, (2) put in pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelope, (3) drop in mail. Interfolio (like all other internet portals) requires an account to be set up, numbers to be plugged in to match the student, etc. It is not the easiest or simplest, particularly for academics.

And the steps saved on the part of the student is not the point here. The student should take pains to make it easier for the letter-writer, not for herself. Nonetheless, I mentioned that if the letter-writer prefers electronic, go with it.
I watched a professor upload my letter to Interfolio, it's quite simple for them. They click the link sent to them by Interfolio and literally upload the letter, no signing up or matching numbers. That's up to the student when they submit the letter to AMCAS later. PLUS you get to keep your letters and keep reusing them if sent by Interfolio instead of having them send the letter directly to AMCAS.
 
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rabbott1971

rabbott1971

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Apr 26, 2016
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OK, well for professors who write a volume of LORs and have Interfolio down, that may be easier for them. But for other letter-writers, like docs you shadow, former employers, etc., and non-Interfolio-savvy professors, the process I described is a good idea, and demonstrates consideration, professionalism, and initiative. Thanks for the feedback.
 
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