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Letters of Recommendation -- ??

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Forensic Chick, May 3, 2002.

  1. Forensic Chick

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    Question for you guys... I was wondering how the whole letter of recommendation thing works. I don't have a problem getting the letters -- but how do you distribute them to medical schools? Do they go to ACMAS or to each school individually? If they go individually - do my professors have to send them out to every school since we're not allowed to see them?? One of my professors is leaving in a few weeks, and I wanted to make sure that his LOR will be available to all medical schools I apply to.

    Many thanks in advance.
     
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  3. Mr. H

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    You need to find a central distribution service. Most schools have one of these, where they open a folder with your name, and your LOR writer's are supposed to send it to the service. Then you tell the central service to send the letter's to however many schools, usually at a cost of 5-10 $ per school.
     
  4. Amy B

    Amy B I miss my son so much
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    Does your school have a pre-med committee or a pre-med advisor? That is who handled all our letters, our file, mailing out our file when we got secondaries. I thought most schools had a pre-med advisor who handled all your letters, since you aren't suppossed to see them ever.
     
  5. MeGrowTall

    MeGrowTall Member
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    Who says you aren't supposed to see them? To me, they help to shape the rest of your life, so why shouldn't you sneak a peek?
     
  6. Forensic Chick

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    Thanks for the info guys!

    MeGrowTall - I figured that the LOR's purpose was to tell how the professor felt about you and your work, and they may not speak honestly if they know that you're going to read it. By law, they can't write anything bad -- but writing something neutral can hurt you too. I was told that we weren't allowed to look for that reason -- what have you heard?
     
  7. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Forensic Chick:
    <strong>Thanks for the info guys!

    MeGrowTall - I figured that the LOR's purpose was to tell how the professor felt about you and your work, and they may not speak honestly if they know that you're going to read it. By law, they can't write anything bad -- but writing something neutral can hurt you too. I was told that we weren't allowed to look for that reason -- what have you heard?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Which law is it that says they can't write anything bad? I know that at my school that there have been occasions in the past where there have been negative comments in letters of rec... thats why you should be sure of who you are asking for a letter.
     
  8. Forensic Chick

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    I know that here in Cali there's been multiple law suits regarding bad recommendations from former employers - and through decisions in these cases, employers, professors, etc aren't allowed to write anything bad about you - they can simply remain neutral and say that they don't know you well enough to gauge your abilities, etc, etc.
     
  9. conure

    conure Master Distiller
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    For most of my LORs the professors have allowed me to view them. However, you should check and sign the area on any form that says you waive your right to view this letter. At least I have been told that to not do this may seem suspicious.

    As for the whole, bad, neutral, good recomendation thing. My view is that you should only ask those who may give good ones. If there is a question, come out and ask them if they feel that they can't write you a positive recommendation. If they have reservations, then move on and ask someone else.
     
  10. MeGrowTall

    MeGrowTall Member
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    conure: I think you have the right idea. I think it is your resposibility to make sure that the letter that is written for you is the best it can be by making sure you ask the right people and by making sure those people understand what you want in that letter.
    However, I'm still going to try and read the letters I get before I send them out. :)
     
  11. Amy B

    Amy B I miss my son so much
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    You have to sign a waiver stating that you give up the right to view your LOR.
    You are on your honor not to read them and so unless you don't have any honor you won't try to read them.
     
  12. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    Forensic Chick, I really doubt there's any law against giving a negative rec. Maybe there've been civil suits where employers have been burned after giving an undeserved negative rec, and so now employers are cautious (my Dad's a lawyer and an employer, and I've heard him talk about this). But in any case, the case law probably wouldn't apply to students getting recs from professors to get into med school.

    As far as what to do with your med school LOR's -- schools ask for them in conjunction with their secondary applications. You don't ever send them to AMCAS or to a school that you're not doing the secondary for. If your school has a premedical committee, most medical schools will require you to use the composite letter that the premedecal committee makes up from the LOR's that you have your recommenders submit to them. I think if your school has a committee and you don't use it, you havew to have a pretty good explanation. If your school doesn't have a premed committee, then it is a good idea to utilize some sort of letter-sending service -- most schools have them -- that keeps your letters on file and sends them out when you need them sent (my school did the first 20 mailings, no matter how many letters, for free). If you're not using a committee, then each school will have a different number of letters that they require, and a different distribution i.e. 2 science, 2 non-science or bio (the most common), physics, chem & humanities (only one school that I remember was this picky). Tulane wanted 3 and only 3, no extras, but most schools will accept extras. The most important thing about LOR's is to get them lined up ASAP (like last month!). You are really into crush time now. Best of luck with your application! :)
     
  13. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    And yes, I think it's best to waive the right to see the LOR. As I recall, some applications asked whether you had. And I think the letter service will tell them whether or not you waived. If it's a committee, I think they're required to be confidential (someone who had a committee, correct me if I'm wrong).
     
  14. souljah1

    souljah1 Attending
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    Make sure your letters are marked 'confidential' and let the letter writer know this as well. Most professors wouldn't mind showing you (even though it is supposed to be confidential..but i never cared to ask). Two of my five letter writers emailed me a copy anyway, which was very considerate of them. On the other hand, I think many professors actually will write you a stronger letter if they know you won't get to read it. High praise in academia doesn't seem all that easy to give openly, but in confidentiality a professor may be more likely to really tell the adcoms how they think of you. You shouldn't have to worry about professors writing bad or neutral letters if you ask them for recommendations correctly. You should ask them if they can write you an excellent letter of recommendation, or atleast 'a very good' LOR. Just asking a professor whether or not they can write you a letter may result in a ****ty, sub-par, somewhat dismal letter. That won't happen if you ask the right people in the right way.
     
  15. Forensic Chick

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    Thanks for all the info!! I'm going to go talk to my professors on Monday. :)
     

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