Apr 3, 2010
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Pre-Medical
I have a few questions about these. Is it more important to have an academic LOR from say freshman year, then another right before application, or should both be as late as possible? Should both be from the sciences, or should one be science and the other from a professor from my minor (Ancient Greek - I've had this prof for three semesters already)?

If I have a recommendation filed, can I rescind it if I find someone who knows/has worked with me more?

Thanks!
 
Sep 4, 2009
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San Angelo, TX
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Attending Physician
I would advise using a letter service such as interfolio. This is by no means a plug for their service, at my undergrad we were given a free one year subscription which I started as a sophomore and paid for my junior and senior years.

With this service you can request an LOR from some professor and they mail or email it to the service where it is saved until you need to submit it to med schools/ application services. You won't be able to read confidential letters, but this way, you can ask for letters from a lot of profs and then narrow down which ones you actually want to submit to schools in case you get some better ones latter in your undergrad career.

The requirements for science vs. non-science letters vary, but you will definitely need at least one science prof and most schools want one non-science. So yes, get the letter from the Greek professor.
 

bannie22

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You should have the BEST ref letters. Dosent matter when they are from.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Pre-Medical
I see, so it probably depends on the school, because that sounds familiar. My adviser told me that they go into my personal file? And that they are confidential, but I don't think she said anything about choosing which ones. I need to talk to her, but she is very difficult to get in touch with, and not always entirely 100% accurate.

I know that each school has slightly different requirements for letters, but what is the standard number of science vs non-science vs character?

I will look into something like interfolio; I didn't know something like that existed.
 
Sep 4, 2009
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San Angelo, TX
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Attending Physician
It simplified the process for me a lot. I was juggling about 10 letters and using three application services so I found it necessary.

As far as 'standard' number of letters that is a difficult question, and hopefully others will have more to say. I can only tell you what I did and what worked for me.

I had the cover letter from my school's health professions office- just a general letter given to all applicants through my school it doesn't say anything good or bad.

I had two science letters- One from a Biochem prof that I took and later worked for as a preceptor and senior preceptor. The other from a Human Biology course that I did really well in.

One non-science letter- From a Anthropology professor I took two classes with.

One physician letter- A D.O. surgeon I shadowed.

One military reference letter- From a former supervisor I had during a military deployment.

I did not have a ton of research experience, so I did not include a letter from the one and only P.I. I worked with.

This covered all requirements for every school I applied to using TMDSAS, AMCAS, and AACOMAS.

I had 3 alternate letters from Bio professors that I thought probably would not be quite as strong as the others, and one other letter from a physician. These were not submitted to schools.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Pre-Medical
Is a military recommendation necessary for some schools? I have friends of the family who are in the military, but no one whom I have worked with closely.

Can I combine a LOR? For instance, the person I am going to use as a character reference is a physician - but I will also be doing research overseas, so I want to hit it off with someone there and get a foreign touch for uniqueness.

I assume that would be a positive?
 
Sep 4, 2009
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151
San Angelo, TX
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Attending Physician
A military rec letter is not required by any school, even USUHS. I used it as a letter to that would support my leadership experiences while in the military.

I am not sure what you mean by combining the physician letter and the overseas research letter.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Pre-Medical
To clarify:

My academic recommendations are not (now) in question - 2 scientific and 1 non-scientific.

My questions are for the non-academic references. My personal character recommendation will be from a friend of a family, a pediatrician, who I have known for over 5 years and babysat his kids.

Best case scenario, I would have my overseas intern supervisor do the PI.

Any problems with these? Anything out of order? Is there any positive to be gained from a foreign recommendation? (I'll be in London)
 
Sep 4, 2009
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San Angelo, TX
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Attending Physician
As long as they are good letters that talk about you strong points from different angles. Ask the letter writers specifically if they can write you a 'strong' letter.

Personally, I think the foreign letter would be kind of interesting, provided it is a strong letter. I don't know if it will necessarily provide you with an advantage, but anything that makes you stand out at all from other applicants is a good thing.
 

bravofleet4

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be careful about asking for LOR's you don't necessarily intend to use. When I used my school's LOR service, they stated that the LOR could only be removed by request by the LOR writer. LOR writers could also at anytime update the LOR, so if you made a bad last impression, your stellar LOR could be replaced by a poor one.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Pre-Medical
I have also heard that different schools emphasize different aspects, like Mayo in particular prefers passion and leadership qualities. (I know, I know, dreaming big)

Excellent points, thank you very much. I will look into interfolio to see if it will help.
 
Apr 3, 2010
23
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Pre-Medical
be careful about asking for LOR's you don't necessarily intend to use. When I used my school's LOR service, they stated that the LOR could only be removed by request by the LOR writer. LOR writers could also at anytime update the LOR, so if you made a bad last impression, your stellar LOR could be replaced by a poor one.
I thought at the time that it was important to have LOR throughout university, to see a progression. I'm sure the professor wrote a good one, but my latest know me better and have seen me learn more difficult subjects than Bio 1.

I am not sure whether or not I can remove the LOR with my school's service, or if I can simply choose to not use it. That is something I have to find out.
 
Sep 4, 2009
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San Angelo, TX
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Attending Physician
I don't know about other school specific services. I only know that you can selectively choose which letters to send to schools using Interfolio. Just be careful on what service you use and check with you school.
 

bravofleet4

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lol i just remember that horror story they told us about this one student who said they would volunteer for 6 months to do undergrad research. 3 months later the PI writes a wonderful letter and the next day the student says they're quitting by e-mail but thanks the PI for the letter. Sure enough, the PI feels she's been used, calls the office, and completely rewrites the LOR.
 
Apr 3, 2010
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Pre-Medical
Oh, ouch! That wasn't very smart.

I'll make sure not to antagonize any of my recommenders, at least until I've been accepted! :laugh: