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Letters of Recommendation

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by UCLABruin, Jun 27, 2002.

  1. UCLABruin

    UCLABruin Junior Member
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    I just finished my freshman year of college. When should I start thinking about getting letters of recommendation? How many will I need? Who should they be from? (Obviously, professors... but do they have to be science professors?) How well should the professors who are writing the letters know me? I make a big effort to get to know my professors... almost all of them know me by name, but in science classes with 300+ people, who knows if they remember things about me. I don't know, it just seems kind of awkward to walk up to one of my professors and ask them to write me a letter. :D Oh, and can a letter be from a TA?

    Also (and forgive me if this is a stupid question), should I choose people who have better writing/grammar skills to write these letters?

    Thank you! :)
     
  2. Street Philosopher

    10+ Year Member

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    When should I start thinking about getting letters of recommendation?
    yes
    How many will I need?
    2 sci, 1 non-sci, 1 other
    Who should they be from? (Obviously, professors... but do they have to be science professors?)

    How well should the professors who are writing the letters know me? I make a big effort to get to know my professors... almost all of them know me by name, but in science classes with 300+ people, who knows if they remember things about me.
    as well as possible. don't be a perfectionist though. not all letters will be personal.

    I don't know, it just seems kind of awkward to walk up to one of my professors and ask them to write me a letter.
    no pain no gain.
    Oh, and can a letter be from a TA?
    only if the professor signs it too
    Also (and forgive me if this is a stupid question), should I choose people who have better writing/grammar skills to write these letters?
    do you really need to ask this one?
    Thank you
    you're welcome. now help others next year.
     
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  3. jot

    jot

    hey - that question about writing skills of your profs is important. do try to gauge if they have a reasonable command of the english language - this isn't a trivial issue. yes they can write grant application like machines, but can they write a humanitarian essay (you)? almost every single prof sent me their letter (even though i signed that thingie) and boy were there some surprising glaring errors like "rage instead of range - which made it quite a funny description" and other grammar errors they asked me to correct. some just are careless - so if you can gauge that do so.

    i would wait to get to know some of the profs if you can before you ask them. if you are sure your interaction with them is finis then go ahead - but they will be able to write a much richer letter even if you don't have another class with them.
    -jot
     
  4. Cydney Foote

    Cydney Foote Senior Member
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    The number and kind of LORs you'll need will depend on each school's preferences: some will want science profs, some will want non-science, some will want committee letters, etc. Wait until you get the specific school's secondary application, which will outline what LORs they want.

    What you can start doing now is keep track of people who might be able to write letters in the future. If there are any professors or TAs now that you have gotten to know this year, try to keep in touch with them throughout your college career so when the time comes they can write a LOR for you.

    Although your classes have 300+ people now, they will get smaller as you take more advanced classes. This will give you a better chance to meet and cultivate relationships with your professors. TAs can and do write LORs, and although their titles aren't as impressive, these letters can be very good because they know you so much better.

    Good luck!
     
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  5. Mutterkuchen

    Mutterkuchen Senior Member
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    Cydney's advice is good. Keep in contact with people that will write you LORs in the future. I have been out of college for 6 years, and I wish I had kept in contact with more professors. Right now I only have 1 science prof who I keep in contact with. This means that I will have to find another and reintroduce myself. I am sure that they will remember me, but probably not that well.

    Use email to send greetings to old acquaintances!
     
  6. UCLABruin

    UCLABruin Junior Member
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    Thanks to all who responded. :) I have a few more questions. I am thinking that I will start collecting letters next year. I had an English teacher and a history teacher who know me pretty well and would write good recommendations. Will each school that I apply to need original copies of these letters, or can they be photocopied?
     
  7. Street Philosopher

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    you send them to the career center. they send them to schools. you are never supposed to touch them let alone be able to photocopy them.
     
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  8. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    Yes, that's right, have them sent to your school's career center or letter service if your school doesn't have a premed committee that collects letters and writes a composite (in which case, most med schools will prefer/require you to do that). You're supposed to waive your right to see the letters, so you definitely don't want to be in possession of them. You're going to need at least a couple of science profs, maybe 3, depending on which schools you apply to.
     
  9. missbonnie

    missbonnie floating
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    Hi-

    I would collect letters as you go through the classes. I did that, starting my freshman yr and collected more than I needed but my pre-med committee chooses the best of them. I'm greatful that I did this because I've been out of school for a few yrs and can't imagine going back to ask profs I haven't seen/spoken to in years!

    -bonnie
     
  10. Spiderman [RNA Ladder 2003]

    Spiderman [RNA Ladder 2003] Platinum Member
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    If you get LORs now, schools would be suspicious when when you apply because the letters would be 2 years old.
     
  11. missbonnie

    missbonnie floating
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    I disagree Spiderman. Most of my friends have done this and have gotten into med school and my premed advisor never said anything about my letters. If anything I think it is a good thing because the letters will be more personal since they wrote them when they knew you -> stronger letter. Not all my letters are very old though (oldest from 1996). I think having a chronology of strong letters is actually better to show that I've been consistently doing well, etc.

    The prof can always update the letter.

    -bonnie
     
  12. blackbird03

    blackbird03 Senior Member
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    Some of the people who know me best are TAs, not Professors! Do I absolutely need someone who has a PhD to write me a letter of rec for med school or a grad student will do?
     
  13. Cydney Foote

    Cydney Foote Senior Member
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    When I was a TA, I wrote a couple of successful med school LORs, so I know that sometimes they work. And I agree that TAs can do great recommendations since they often know you so much better. Whether or not they'll be accepted depends on the program and what they specify. You should check with the individual school if you're in doubt.
     
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  14. jot

    jot

    if you get it co-signed by the prof then its better. i've done that for kids i've ta'ed. but honestly, i wouldn't really give my opinion of the student (as their TA) much wieght - the advantage of prof recs is that they have had the experience to compare you to other students they have encountered over their career - and can place you within that framework. this can be good if you stand out, but ...

    -jot
     

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