LORs - When to ask?

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by Pomona2006, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. Pomona2006

    Pomona2006 UC Davis SVM c/o 2013

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    I've been thinking about when to ask the vet I've been working with for a letter of recommendation and would like your advice. I've been volunteering with her for 7 months (enough for her to say good things) but I've been hired to work this summer full-time, which makes me think that she'll be able to say better things after that. The job will last until the end of August, so I could ask her for a letter now, in a month, 2 months - when??? I'm not sure what would be the best idea. What do you guys think???

    Also - because I'm a non-trad student, what would you guys recommend as for other LORs - should I go for someone in my previous field or would that be weird? Any advice is appreciated!

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  3. SweeTeaPie

    SweeTeaPie Cornell class of 2012

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    You might want to let her know that you'll be requesting a letter from her now to at least give her a heads up. That way she can be paying more attention to how you work in order to write a more accurate letter. It would probably be a good idea to say that while you aren't expecting a letter next week, you'll be hoping to have one from her by the end of the summer before applications are due. It can take people with hectic schedules a while to write a good letter, so I'm sure she'll appreciate the advance notice. It's generally not a good idea to ask someone for a letter out of the blue two to three weeks before you need it. It'll make the process a whole lot less stressfull for everyone involved, including you because you'll know that your letter is in on time.

    As for who you ask, the vet schools are pretty specific about who they're looking for leters from. You need one from a vet (looks like you're already working on that), a lot of schools want letters from a professor, and it's generally a good idea to have one from an employer, but probably only if they're involved with science in some form. Check out your top schools requirements and also read VMCAS's instructions on that topic. I'm not sure what your past experience was in, and I can't quite remember the specifics about the requirements (and some schools are looking for different LOR's; I had to send in a total of 5 in order to cover all the bases), but if it was scientific, I'd say go for it. If not, you might want to do a little bit more checking first.

    Either way, I'd say at least start giving potential reccommenders a head's up.
     
  4. pressmom

    pressmom Third year!

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    I would ask if she is willing to write it as soon as possible. I think I asked my LORs like a year before I applied (but I had been working with them for a year and a half at that point) and then didn't give them the stuff to write it until a couple of months before VMCAS was due. (Make sure you give them a resume as well, so they know your accomplishments both in vet med and your prior career.) I gave them 3 weeks to write it and made the due date for them about a month before VMCAS was due just to make sure they had some fudge time if they needed it.

    I would check on the types of LORs you need for the schools you are applying to. I most of mine said 1 employer, 1 vet, 1 academic adviser. So I used the vet who owned the clinic as my employer, another contract vet there as my vet (this worked for the other schools, too, which required 2 from vets), and asked the professor I had kept in touch with from my UG institution for my academic one.

    I think for an employer reference it would be appropriate for you to ask for one from your prior field. But you may want to make sure you get two vets in there for other schools you may be applying to.
     
  5. Pomona2006

    Pomona2006 UC Davis SVM c/o 2013

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    Thanks for the good advice so far! I'll fill in some of the gaps...

    Letters I will need are: 1 vet, 1 employer, 1 advisor/prof

    My undergrad career was in psychology but HEAVILY research focused (even did some grad school before changing fields) - my undergrad advisor was also the main person I did research with for 2 years. The research was psych related, but do you think she would be appropriate for the prof/advisor letter or should I use one of the science profs I've taken recently - they don't know me as well and they aren't from as prestigious a university. If you think she would be better of not used as a prof/advisor, then I could technically use her as an employer. What do you think would be better?
     
  6. SweeTeaPie

    SweeTeaPie Cornell class of 2012

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    Well, I guess if you use her as your professor, then who would you ask to write your employer LOR? It's important to make sure that each of your letters will be a good/strong one. Seems like you should definately have your psych advisor write one letter for you. How you catagorize her, however, is the real question. If you have someone else who could write you an equally strong employer letter, then use her as your academic LOR. Otherwise, use her as an employer and have a current teacher write the academic LOR. You also have to take into account which schools you're applying too. Tufts for example would rather see more academic LOR's, and Penn doesn't care about name's/conections as much as they want to see good, solid letters. Talk to each school if you have questions about who should be desiganted as what. They can usually give you a good idea.
     
  7. Bcrunner1313

    Bcrunner1313 UFCVM Class of 2013

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    I think the advice that everyone has given so far sounds great, so I'm hoping you guys can give me some insight.

    Background: I've got 4 people willing to write me some really favorable LORs. Two of them are from the vets that I have worked for over the past 6 years (about 3300 hours). One is from a general chemistry professor that I have been the Lead TA for 5 semesters now. The fourth is from the founder/president of the Therapy Dog Foundation, Inc., an organization that I've been involved with as a certified therapy dog team and AKC evaluator for about 8 years.

    Letters I am using:
    -I am going to be using the letter from the head vet/owner of the practice. I've known him for 15 years and feel like his letter is going to be very honest about everything, but overall will turn out to be a very strong recommendation.
    -The letter from the professor is already in, and basically talks about my leadership, ability to work with a group of diverse people, and about my "great understanding of the concepts of general chemistry".

    Letters to pick between:
    -Basically, I have to pick between submitting the second vet's letter and the letter talking about therapy dogs. Some schools that I am applying to will only read 3 letters, and if more than 3 are submitted through VMCAS, they will pick at random which letters they read. I only want to submit 3 to make sure they read the letters from the head vet and professor. For schools like Ohio that require 2 vets, I can submit a second vet letter without going through VMCAS. So, if you've gotten this far (thanks), my real question is: which letter should I submit to VMCAS? Another vet letter, or a letter talking about my community service, leadership, dog training skills, and animal/person interaction skills?

    Thanks!
     
  8. Pomona2006

    Pomona2006 UC Davis SVM c/o 2013

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    BCrunner1313 - I think you answered your own question without even knowing it! To me, it is clear that you should go with the therapy dog letter - it provides a different take on you and your skills that might not be communicated in a second vet letter. Just my 2 cents :)
     
  9. Bcrunner1313

    Bcrunner1313 UFCVM Class of 2013

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    Thanks Pomona.

    I feel like I answered it too, but I am hesitant due to a meeting that I had with an advisor/adcom from my IS school. He said that they really like to see 2 vet letters, and I believe that there is no way to submit additional letters (this is one school where they strongly stress that they only like to read 3 letters). I really just wanted to air it out to get the opinion of everyone here!
     
  10. Pomona2006

    Pomona2006 UC Davis SVM c/o 2013

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    I guess, in your head, you know which one you prefer to submit, but you don't want to take a chance on your IS school. I can understand that - I wouldn't want to make that decision myself. It might help to think about what precise points were you hoping to make with the dog therapy letter and then examine whether those points were delivered from another recommender. For instance, if the prof who already wrote for you brought up some of the key points you were hoping the dog therapy letter to show (such as leadership), then you might feel a little better letting the dog therapy letter go.

    Tough decision...
     
  11. SweeTeaPie

    SweeTeaPie Cornell class of 2012

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    Bcrunner1313; I'm a little bit confused about which school will allow you to do what. You say that Ohio wants 2 vet LOR's and that one can be submitted outside of VMCAS, but that your IS school wants two vet LOR's but won't let you submit one othr than through VMCAS. So from this I'm gathering that Ohio is NOT your IS? If your IS strongly suggests having 2 vet LOR's and does not accept any outside of VMCAS, then what you should probably do is submit the two vet LOR's via VMCAS, and send the other letter to Ohio outside of VMCAS. But have you looked at Ohio's OOS tuition? Of course if that's a school that you absolutely love, then go for it... but it's something to look at. Anyway, it's alittle bit hard to advise you on this because we don't know exactly how many schools you're applying to other than Ohio and your IS that you're having a problem with. It also depends on how much you want to go to these other schools... tricky question
     
  12. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013

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    Ohio is also one of the few schools that openly tells its students how to gain in state tuition for second year on.... which pretty well negates the hefty first year OOS tuition.

    I asked my 3 writers over the course of the last 2 weeks. Gave them a heads up that I would like them to write me on, and the time frame(told them I needed them for end of August).
    My chosen 3 are:
    1) Employer, Vet of 23 years, Board certified Theriogenology
    2) Professor, had her for Gen bio and upper level genetics course,
    3) Vet of 1 year, working her first job out of school.(I've been able to work with her since her first day)

    I'm still kind of worried about having the new vet write my recommendation, but I have learned by far the most from working with her. Or is this just a bad idea to have a less senior vet write it? Not that it will matter much, but I am applying to her alma mater as an international student.

    In my personal statement I am going to talk about my experiences with both vets. How in 20 years I would like to have the knowledge and proficiency of my boss, but that in working with a vet who was a new grad I have also seen some of the challenges I will be faced with in my early years as a vet.
     
  13. Bcrunner1313

    Bcrunner1313 UFCVM Class of 2013

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    SweeTeaPie,

    You pose some good points that I'll try to answer and hopefully shed some more light.

    My IS is the University of Florida, and I will be applying to UF, KSU, OSU, LSU, and Penn. If I get in to any of those schools, I will go, no matter what the cost (Ohio is 55K first year, but allows residency after the first year). I based my choices of schools on the amount of OOS seats and the fact that I am familiar with all of the areas.

    Based on what my advisor at UF said, 2 vet LOR's are a good thing. A problem is that I have worked at one clinic throughout high school and college, and I've heard that that makes letters from vets from the same place of work sound a bit redundant (what do you guy think about that point?). So even though I would have 2 vet LOR's, they would basically be saying the same things (albeit in a different style I'm sure). I don't know if these 2 vet letters would give me a leg up at my IS over 1 vet letter and 1 volunteer letter. I feel like submitting a letter that is community service and animal focused may be a plus, showing my commitment to activities outside of school and work. If I submitted letters from the head vet, prof, and community service person, then for OSU I would be allowed to submit the second vet letter outside of VMCAS...this allows me to show 3 of the 5 schools that do not require 2 vet letters the full picture of what I've done through VMCAS without the chance of them randomly picking the 2 similar vet letters and only one of the others. Does that make any sense?

    Did anyone submit more than 3 LOR's through VMCAS to schools that said they only read 3? if so, did they give you any feedback about that?


    Thanks!
     
  14. Angelo84

    Angelo84 Tufts Class of 2011

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    Another option since it is only June is to try to work with another vet on a volunteer basis in a different area of vet med for six weeks or so--if you can get 100 hours with them that is enough for a letter. You can send more than three letters through VMCAS but any additional letters must be paper and not ELORS. When I applied I had a professor, my thesis advisor, and a large animal vet (100 hrs) write e-lors and another vet my employer wanted to write a paper letter. This was fine but Illinois only looks at the e-lors and will not look at any paper letters. So they unfortunately refused to look at the letter from the vet that knew me for six years and looked at the one that knew me for two months. I was rejected but I never bothered to find out if that was why!


     
  15. Bcrunner1313

    Bcrunner1313 UFCVM Class of 2013

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    Angelo,

    Thanks for the advice. I had thought about doing that, but I am booked up this summer with classes, a research job, and teaching...if things don't work out this year, I will undoubtedly do that for the following application cycle!
     
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  17. SweeTeaPie

    SweeTeaPie Cornell class of 2012

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    This was true for the past aplication cycles, but they've changed it around a little. I only know because I volunteered to do a review of this year's VMCAS. Unfortunately, though, I don't remember the specifics, but as far as I can remember, it's not as easy to have someone fill out a paper LOR this time around. Am I right, or no? Like I said, I can't really remember...

    You are in a bit of a tricky situation, I have to admit, so I don't want to give too much advice because I wasn't in quite the same situation you're in. I applied to Cornell, Tufts, and Penn, and none of those schools had an issue with you sending in more than three LOR's. Like I mentioned before, I sent in 5 in order to cover all of the bases. I had my current employer/Laboratory P.I., a Vet from New Bolton, and two to three of my professors, depending on the school I was applying to.

    I almost want to say that you might want to refrain from having a letter from someone that you did community service with, unless it was science/vet related. I know that sounds bad, but I had so many extracurricular activities, awards, etc. etc., and I didn't even get an interview with Penn. but then again, there are other opinions out there. I just say that because I felt like they didn't even really take all of those things into consideration in my aplication, but what do I know, maybe they did. That's just my $0.02, and it's not necessarily correct.

    I think a lot of your choices have to be made on either A) what the vast majority of the schools your applying to want, OR B) what your first choice wants.
    That might be a bit confusing, but it all depends on what your going for in your application. If you're looking to get a lot of interviews and have more choices, then go with what the vast majority want. If you're looking to get into a particular school, then go with what they want. Penn was pretty good about looking at additional LOR's (at least they were last year), and it seems like Ohio wil let you do that, too. So you might want to take those things into consideration as well.
     
  18. EqSci

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    I'd like to ask some advice on who to choose for LORs too.

    I should have my 2 vet req's. Neither know me extremely well, but enough to get LORs from them.

    For the last LOR, I'm deciding between a professor and a mentor. My mentor was my riding instructor since I was 13, she started my interest in horses. She has seen me grow up and has been like a second mother to me. She has overseen much of my experience with horses and most of my volunteer experience. Downside is that she has probably never written a LOR before, not a lot of experience with that type of thing and probably wouldn't know what vet schools are looking for... would probably need help in that area (which brings me to another point - what would be the best way to help her?)

    A professor would know exactly how to write a well-written LOR, but I do not know any of my professors that well. I know LORs are supposed to be personal, but I'm not sure which would be better - a casual letter from someone who knows me extremely well but not academically; or a professional letter from someone who doesn't know me personally but is connected to me academically.

    ??
     
  19. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013

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    Most schools specifically require that one of your LOR's be from a professor or academic advisor. So check with the specific schools your applying too first.
     
  20. EqSci

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    Thanks for the heads up. The schools I've chosen don't seem to have that requirement, the only thing I've found is that North Carolina and Ohio require 2 to be from veterinarians. I will check closely on the others, though.

    Which would you suggest if the remaining does not have to be from an advisor/professor?
     
  21. LVT2DVM

    LVT2DVM UGA-CVM c/o 2013

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    If you have any GPA or academic discrepancies that may be an issue then I would have a professor write you a recommendation. Preferably one from a higher division bio course or graduate level course, something equally demanding that you did really well in, so they can boast your academic commitment and ability.
    If thats not an issue and your GPA speaks for itself, then it seems that your mentor would be the better choice. Someone who can detail your interest, commitment, growth as a pre vet., ect..
     
  22. jkq202

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    #20 jkq202, Jun 24, 2008
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  23. LucyLoo

    LucyLoo LucyLoo

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    Does she have access to the internet at all? If so, it takes about two seconds to set up a hotmail account and you could just email it there and not have to deal with the whole paper LOR mess.
     
  24. Pomona2006

    Pomona2006 UC Davis SVM c/o 2013

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    Sounds like you already tried to do the free email account route. Sad that she's unwilling to go about that.

    Her moodiness is something I can relate to - both of the vets I work with at my job are moody - one more so than the other. She can be perfectly fine and friendly in a great mood one second and then be angry and mean the next. It's something that all of my coworkers have said is just her personality - nothing to take personally and after being around her, I realize that she's just like that's fine. Sure it makes things difficult at times (like right now, as I try to find a good time/moment to approach her about writing my LOR) Hopefully I will find a good moment to ask and then manage to make it through the day without any problems!

    Good luck with your vet - be glad you already asked her and she's willing to write a letter. I generally feel like if they don't like us or think we're competent, we should know (either because they don't want us around or because they treat us like it).
     
  25. LucyLoo

    LucyLoo LucyLoo

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  26. LVT2DVM

    LVT2DVM UGA-CVM c/o 2013

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    To play devils advocate...if you experiences are diverse, does that mean you have another vet that you could ask? Are you only concerned about what she will write if you pressure her to use an electronic LOR OR are you generally concerned about what she will write because she is moody? If the later is the case, then you may want to re-evaluate your choice. You want to ask a vet that you feel confident is going to you give you a great LOR. Especially if it is your only vet reference. Perhaps she isnt the best choice?
     
  27. jkq202

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    #25 jkq202, Jun 25, 2008
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  28. VeganChick

    VeganChick Tufts University V'13

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    Actually, I have a question about LORs as well and need some opinions. As far as I can tell, the schools I am applying to are not specific about what kind of letters they receive except for at least one from a vet. I work in a clinic that is big enough to have a number of specialty services but small enough that we all work together. Three of the vets there (one being the owner of the hospital, and two of the specialists) have said they would write me LORs. I also have a professor that would write one.

    My question is, since a couple of the schools only take three LORs, should I get them from the three vets or two of the vets and one professor. I am a non-trad if that makes any difference and have been taking classes while working - the prof is my Gen Chem one from 2 years ago.

    Thanks so much!
     
  29. MickeysPet

    MickeysPet MSU CVM c/o 2012

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    I decided to include only 1 LOR from a vet I worked with, 1 from a professor (mentor) and 1 from a MD/PhD I did research with. I only worked with the MD/PhD for a couple of months, so I felt I was taking a risk, but based on his feedback I felt he would give a great recommendation, and I think it helped show diversity.

    I think it's most important to have LORs from people that know you well; but all things being equal, diversified LORs may give adcoms a better overall view of your experience/capabilities (IMHO)
     
  30. jkq202

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    #28 jkq202, Jun 28, 2008
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  31. ShelterGirl

    ShelterGirl UC Davis SVM 2012

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    Veganchick, if your prof can still write you a strong LOR I'd keep them as one since some schools (Penn, for one) do require an academic LOR. As for the vets, it might be an option to have them do a committee LOR where they collaborate on writing it and all of them sign off. I've no idea if or how the mechanics would work in VMCAS but I know that med school candidates do this sometimes.
     

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