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Letters of Recommendation

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by strider, Jun 7, 2000.

  1. strider

    strider Member
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    I've been out of school for 8 years, and was recently told by Pre-med advisors at UCLA that med schools will still want letters of rec. from professors at your undergrad. institution. Not only that, but that they should be from science professors. The problem is, that though I have completed all pre med class requirements, I have a Geography degree, and didn't get to know any professors in my first 2 years of science classes (the class sizes at UCLA usually prevent this). Does anyone know if schools really want outdated letters of recommendation from professors who didn't even know me then, let alone now, even if I got an A in the class? Shouldn't grades cover that base? Any help....

     
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  3. Joejitsu

    Joejitsu Member
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    Hey man, I feel ya. I am graduating from UCLA at the end of this spring and I have to admit, getting decent letters of rec is no easy task. What I did was email the professors about meeting with them to possibly get a letter of rec. One of the professors graciously set up a time with me and I came in and we talked for probably 30 min or so about my goals, aspirations, etc. I gave him my personal statement and a resume and he wrote me a letter. Sure he can't say something like, I've know Joe for 10 years and he is the best student, yada, yada, yada...but it is better than no rec at all.

    Another professor had me fill out a form (she writes many letters) and submit stuff for her to get to know a little about me. It's tough and they aren't the best letters you can get, but unless you are one of those idiots that sits in the front row and always raises his hand (in a class of 280), then you can't really expect anything better.

    Professors at UCLA know it is difficult, so if they are nice people they typically will work with you to write you the best letter possible under the circumstances.
     
  4. Sherry

    Sherry Member
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    Stridor,
    I had been out of school for over 10 years (I won't say how much over!!!) and I too was told the same thing. This seemed impractical and illogical! I proceeded to get three very strong letters from colleagues (all physicians that knew my competencies and level of professionalism). Then I got the "required" two letters from science professors by contacting them, providing general information about myself, my personal statement, etc. and to my surprise they both had kept records of their classes throughout the years and wrote me really wonderful letters (they sent me copies). So it was not as bad as I had anticipated but it was a lot of work. I had to make a lot of phone calls (long distance) and write several letters, but in the end it all worked out. I just made too much out of it and stressed myself unnecessarily. I know this is an important issue so I won't blow you off. You just need to follow up on it and fill in the squares. I start med school this August so it paid off in the long run.

    Remember your letters of recommendation are just a part of your total package. Just make sure your GPA and MCATs are where they need to be and you'll be fine, even with the standard "form recommendation" that many profs send out.


    [This message has been edited by Sherry (edited 06-07-2000).]
     
  5. nicolette

    nicolette Member
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    Hi strider,
    Letters of rec are really a pain. I also attended a very large school and there's nothing worse than approaching the profs...some profs that I approached were just plain jerks. You'll notice that some schools are very specific about the letters they want (all or any combination of a bio, physics, humanities letter). You can't get away with not submitting all of the required letters, but if you don't have a physics letter, for example, call the schools and ask them for their suggestions. Schools are usually willing to work with you. For one of my required letters, after I called, I submitted a letter with my secondaries explaining why I didn't have one of their required letters (after I took the course-couldn't get in touch with the prof and the fact that it would be difficult to obtain a meaningful letter at this point.) The schools were understanding and I had no problems doing this.

    Best of luck.
     
  6. Mango

    Mango Very Senior Member
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    I HATE letters of reccomendation! And I hate asking people for them even more! I too was out of school before I applied (though only two years), so I faced the added strain of hoping the Profs remembered me!

    I decided (after procrastinating for several MONTHS), that the best and only way to get the letters would be to actually visit the profs in question. So I created a "packet" for each prof I was going to ask. This included a cover letter about myself, my activities since college, and in which class I had the prof. Also in the packet was a Resume, a copy of my personal statement, and a list of schools to send the recs to (I actually made mailing lables for each school).

    So I hopped in my car, and drove to my school for the first time since graduating (college students are much smaller than I remember)! Two of the profs I asked flat-out refused because they "Didn't know enough about me." That was disheartening, but at least they were honest and didn't just say yes only to write a bad letter!

    This system worked VERY well; I think asking in person is a huge advantage. It helps put a name with a face, and shows the prof you put some effort into the whole thing. The only mistake I made was waiting until October to ask them! Yep, my letters didn't even arrive at the med schools until close to the end of last year. So, of course, I didn't interview until Feb/March. This put me at a huge disadvantage. Some of the schools said during the interviews that they were only offering wait list positions at that time. Big bummer.

    So the moral is, apply eary, AND get Recs in on time. I was very lucky that I managed to get into schools this year. My procrastination almost cost me big time!
     

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