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letters of recommendation

Maurizio

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  1. Non-Student
    Hey,

    I have a question regarding letters of recommendation. Most schools ask for a letter of recommendation from a Premedical Advisory Committee. My undergraduate degree is in engineering so I did not have a Premedical Advisory Committee. Most schools also say that if you do not have a Premedical Advisory Committee to get letters from undergrad science profs. (I'm assuming profs from chemistry, physics etc. namely no engineering profs). I did my undergrad work almost ten years ago and I doubt any of my undergrad profs will remember me. I still have to take the organic chemistry and biology pre-req and I think I will be doing this as a non-degree seeking student. These classes tend to be very large and I'm not sure the profs really get to know any of there students well enough to give a very good letter?
    I realize that completeing a post-bacc program may make getting letters easier but these programs seem expensive and I only need the 2 courses. What is the best way to get the letters I need? anyone else have the same problem? what did you do?

    Thanks for the help :D
     

    MiesVanDerMom

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    Nov 16, 2004
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      I'm in the same boat. Luckily my classes aren't really big though. I took Orgo 2 and am taking a semester of physics and bio 2. My orgo prof was nice. I didn't get to know him well but I got a high grade so I emailed him and we've arranged to meet. I will be giving him my personal statement, resume, etc. and we will sit and talk about it all so he can write a good letter. I don't feel so good about my physics prof though so I am hoping to god I click a bit with my bio prof next semester so he'll be willing to do what my orgo prof is doing. I also got to know my undergrad profs well (was a history major) so I am submitting some extra letters from one or two of them.

      What I've been told as a non-trad is basiclaly there's no great way around this LOR problem, no secret solution. So, I would be upfront with your profs about your situation and I would assume they would be willing to work with you since you were a good student. Hope this helps? best of luck.
       

      lanzarlaluna

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        Definitely get those letters from the classes you will be taking. I did my pre-reqs bost-bacc, and my science letter was from my Organic II professor. The class was roughly 300 students, but I still managed to get to know him. I would suggest talking to the professor up front at the beginning of the semester. Explain your situation. I asked my professor straight up, "What do I need to do so that you will feel comfortable writing me a letter when the time comes?" In a nushell, what I did was ask good questions in class, attend office hours regularly to show I actually cared, and made sure I ranked really high in the class. You don't just want an A; you want a high A, especially in large classes. If you finish 10th out of 300 students, that's impressive info for your recommendor to include in your letter. :) It can be done in large classes. Good luck.
         
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        Non-TradTulsa

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        1. Resident [Any Field]
          Lanzarlaluna is right on-point. I took my pre-reqs in evening classes at schools with no premedical committee or premed advisor, so I tried to cultivate relationships with my instructors early on. I haven't seen my letters, but I gather they were good. :oops:

          Another thing to think about: the letters from your professors are important, but - as a non-trad - don't limit yourself to just those letters. You have to keep your letters to a reasonable number - at some schools, 5 is the maximum allowed - some schools will allow 6 but I wouldn't push it past 6 - but I haven't encountered any schools that would only allow 3.

          If you've been out working for a while, the adcom will be very interested in a letter from your supervisor (which is possible, of course, only if you've disclosed your plans). I work in healthcare, so it's been a little easier for me - I got a letter from my employer and three letters from physicians whom I've worked with for several years. I also got a letter from a physician I shadowed over the summer. I think physician letters are quite helpful if the physician knows you well enough to write something reasonably specific.

          Good luck!
           

          Maurizio

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            Thanks for the good advice :)

            I think it's a good idea to talk to the prof. at the begining of the semster and let him know my plans. I'm currently completing my Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. I hope to ask members of my advisory committe to a letter, to demonstrate my ability as a researcher. Will this carry as much weight considering the letter will be from a researcher in a different field? or should I try and get letters mostly form the medical field? Also, when getting letters form people other than science course profs. what should the letters focus on (i.e. leadership skills, character etc.?),since the letters from science profs will porbably mention my ability to learn the course material? Basically, what are adcoms looking for in these letters?

            Thanks again for the help, this board is great :D
             

            remo

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              I think us non-trads need to get the same types of letters as everyone else (2 from basic science classes, 1 humanities, 1 research, 1 volunteer/doctor). I'm a non-trad who has been doing an informal post-bac at a large university. You can easily get the letters from the classes you are taking now. All you have to do is go to their office hours and show some interest in talking to them. Even if you don't have any questions, think of something to ask. Go at least 5-6 times over the course of the semester. Try to go when no-one else is there so you can talk on-on-one. Even in the big classes the office hours are usually quiet. The prof will usually be more interested in you since you have a unique situation and they are more than willing to help. As soon as the semester is over and the grades are in then go and ask them for the letter.
               

              IAMS

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              1. Attending Physician
                Maurizio said:
                anyone else have the same problem? what did you do?

                You sound like me 2 years ago. I had a non pre-med undergrad over 5 years ago, and didn't have any contacts with a pre-med committee.

                I made contact with the pre-med advisor at a local university (different state from my undergrad) to ask what I needed to do to qualify for a committe letter, and he said take science classes, fill out an aplication, have profs evaluate me, and make sure they turn those in by the spring. I only needed to complete physics and organic chem for prerequisites, so that's all I took.

                I got to know the profs as well as I could in the classroom (they weren't huge, but about 40 students in one, and 90 in another), and made sure they knew why I was there and that I was on top of the material. I also got to know the lab instructors, and when the end of the year was up, I had everyone on the faculty who I had contact with submit an evaluation (only 6 people), but I worked very hard and wanted everyone's evaluation in my packet. The pre-med advisor was also head of the committee, so he helped me by getting everything out on time to the schools. So it worked for me, it can be done by you.

                You may not have to do a post-bacc program unless you need the refresher in physics and general chemistry. Have you taken the MCAT yet? If not, take a practice test to see how you fare, and you may want to take them over in a post-bacc program. Some schools have a limit on prereq's. Duke, for example, wants them all within the last 5 years. Check the schools you're interested in for their requirements, and don't ever hesitate to talk with admissions people, they're there to help applicants like us!!!
                 

                medworm

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                  Btw, with my LOR requests I included a resume and autobio explaining my motivation to go into medicine, my long-term goals, my strengths and weakness, and my interests, so my professors could see the personal side of me, what I do for fun, and get a sense of me as a person overall. I had different versions ranging from 2 to 4 pages. Some may consider it too much info, but they can always toss it if they don't need it. But more often than not, it strikes additional conversations when they find similar interests or unique virtues in your background.

                  Good luck!
                   
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