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letters of recommendations

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by jiggahova, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. jiggahova

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    I plan on applying this upcoming spring, but for school i need to get al my application ready, around feb. so they can review it. For this application I need atleast 4 LORs. I have been a smart kid and performing well in my classes but I never took initiative to get to know my teachers on a personal level. I was never that person who would ask my professors questions or what not. Well now I need LORs and I dont know any of my teachers on a personal level. What do you guys suggest doing, have any of you ever been in my shoes? Should I ask teachers that probably don't even remember me? I am really worried about this.
     
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  3. JokerMD

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    im in your exact shoes. im guessing you go to a large public school (even my upper divs have 200+ students) so it's understandable that your professors dont really know you. what most people at my school do is approach the professor with a packet. the packet contains transcripts, cover letter, and a personal statement type essay. Then (after the professor has looked over your packet) you most likely sit down for a chat (mini interview style) and get a letter a couple weeks later. I doubt these letters are very good, but i dont think letters are that important anyways (unless the writer says something particularly caustic about you)

    key thing is, ask other people who have gone through the process at your school. based on my observation, most of us are in your position so don't sweat it
    :luck:
     
  4. airplanes

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    Letters probably won't make or break you, but they are part of the application process. Ideally, you would want strong recomendations attesting to character traits like your ethic, intelectual curiosity, motivation, compassion, teamwork etc. You don't want to raise any flags with lousy letters from bad sources. My adviser always told me to not use the "I'm doing well in my classes so I didn't need to use office hours" as an excuse. Make up questions to approach your professors with, or go into talk to them about something your interested in. You still have 6+ months to get to know them and I suggest you start soon. Good luck!

    ps. What about letters from your extracurriculars? I'm at a large school as well but managed to get letters from some advisers, a doctor I was shadowing during my medical internship, my boss at a diff internship, one from a volunteer experience etc. One teacher actually asked me to TA for her philosophy class so I got a letter from her as well. The only other one I got from a prof was one who I didn't know well and writes very impersonal ones. (ex. Ochem is an extremely difficult course and XXX placed in the XX percentile of CH337)
     
  5. fightinI

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    That's what I did.

    Letters from EC's will not be too useful. You only need one, maybe two letters outside of classroom professors. Very few people will look at it. Now, if you've done something extraordinary, like raise enough money to add a new wing to your student union, then by all means go ahead. The only other exception I can think of is from a coach if you're an athlete.
     
  6. jiggahova

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    so i went to ask my biochm professor for a letter the other, i made a little packet about my accomplishments and everything. lol she had no idea who i was, didnt even kno i was in the class
     
  7. gujuDoc

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    This is the way we do things at our university.

    If we don't know the professor very well but they agree to it, we have a 15-30 minute interview with them if not longer where we basically sit down and talk with them telling them of our future goals and what not. We also give a resume, some sort of personal statement if not our AMCAS one, and they can look up how we ranked in their class. From that they will write a letter.


    That works for most professors at my university.

    some of them will still deny if they don't know you but I've never been the kind to go to office hours and even if I need help I usually ask peers or figure things out on my own. So I completely feel your pain.
     
  8. Tekbright510

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    I disagree strongly with the parts about not being too useful and very few people looking at letters from ECs. In my opinion and from personal experience, these EC letters can separate you from fellow candidates and give you an edge.

    The reasoning is, as you guys have mentioned, pre-req classes usually have a large number of students and it is difficult to get to know professors well. Even if you do a mini-interview when asking for a LOR, chances are the letter will be the generic - good student, motivated person, would recommend type of letter. Every applicant takes these pre-req classes and the letters look the same one way or the other.

    Now with EC letters which I consider to be letters from shadowing, clinical experiences, research, sports or employment, there is a good chance that you will know your letter writer on a much more personal level and they will be able to speak of you in more sincere and less generic terms.

    Most applicants are good students and therefore their academic letters will predictably be strong. EC letters paint a picture of the applicant in a non-classroom/academic setting which may be more valuable to adcoms.

    I would recommend adding a non-science letter to your academic collection if you can. A strong letter from a humanities professor can also help paint a more diverse picture of you as a student.
     
  9. gujuDoc

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    While there is a good chance an EC letter is going to be from someone who knows you more personally, I disagree that they will be weighted more then an academic letter.

    Almost every adcom member I've ever talked to from different schools have stated that there is a far higher value placed upon a strong science professor letters and nonscience professor letter aka your academic letters or committee letter then there is on character letters from your bosses, PIs, vol. coordinators, peers, etc.

    Some have even stated not to give more letters then those that are from your professors. So therefore I don't think what you are saying is correct.

    I also believe that the required letters will be weighted more highly because they have something to compare against since all people give the required letters whereas not everyone gives additional non academic letters unless required by the school.
     
  10. justdoit31

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    OP-

    Have you considered waiting to ask for a letter until right after spring semester??? I did that and told my writers I would appreciate if letter was ready by July 1st (you will submit early/mid June if you are early but by the time you are verified and hear from schools you will be still be early. I used a letter collection service. (Interfolio)

    If you can wait- develop a relationship with a teacher you are taking a spring course from.

    I was very fortunate because I studied abroad twice and at my university all our labs are taught by the professors and not TA's... I used a biology professor I had 3 classes with (including a study abroad trip) as well as 2 labs with for one letter- and my Organic professor who I had for 1 class and lab and did frequent office hours- you can develop a good relationship with an organic professor waiting for things to distill in lab!

    Used a non-science study abroad teacher that I researched with and studied abroad with as well as took a trip with her and 3 other researchers to present research.

    Then got 2 EC letters- you totally want EC letters and if you have shadowed a physician for a good amount of time then their letter is golden! My state school told us when they did the presentation at my UG they pretty much expected a physician letter for one of the letters.
     
  11. Marquis_Phoenix

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    If true, this is rather stupid given that your performance in whatever course you're using a academic reference letter from will be made self-evident by your transcript. These are virtually a given in the applicant pool for any top school.
     
  12. gujuDoc

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    There are a lot of different things which are stupid in this app. cycle and that make no sense. This being one of them. However, it doesn't change the facts.

    I myself never understood how going to a few office hours is going to allow you to get to know a professor personally unless you do research for him/her but yet PI letters are less weighted then a course letter unless PIs are also your professors who taught you one of those courses and you got an A.

    I suppose the reasoning is that adcoms traditionally viewed your schooling as your fulltime job so academics is a measure of work ethic. Not everyone has held a real job or done the same amt of ECs or things of that nature so there is nothing to compare against on equal grounds. Whereas science professors everyone will have had and therefore something to compare everyone too on equal grounds. But that is the way I see things
     
  13. jiggahova

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  14. FIREitUP

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    I second that advice to seek a letter from a humanities professor, they usually are very capable writers and are (for the most part) able to write more sincere letters than science professors can.

    I also agree with seeking an outside source. You are a much different person outside of school. Good post :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
     

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