*~*~*~*Official Letters of Recommendation Questions Thread 2017-2018*~*~*~*

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Lucca

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Disclaimer: This post was automatically generated by a random permutation of the text contents of an infinite number of recommendation letters.

This thread is for 2018 applicants (those who will be entering medical school in 2018) to ask questions about letters of recommendation.

Any separate threads in Pre-Allo dealing with this topic will be merged into this thread.

Before asking a question, PLEASE READ THE FAQ, both here in this thread AND on the AMCAS website! It is quite possible that your question will have already been answered. If you think that you have a different take on a question in the FAQ, acknowledge this in your question; everyone in pre-allo will be much more likely to help you out if they think you've done due diligence.

Last year's thread is here, credit to @WedgeDawg

Also, each thread has a search function. Please use it before asking your question by clicking the "Search this Thread" button near the top of the page.

This thread is brought to you by the Pre-Allopathic Volunteer Staff. Ask away, and good luck!!


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What kinds of letters do I need to apply to medical school?
For most schools, you need a MINIMUM of two letters from science professors, and 1 letter from a non-science professor. If you have done research, a letter from your PI is also recommended, especially at research-intensive schools. (If you know of any exceptions to this rule, feel free to post in this thread with citations and I will add them). Other letters that may be helpful: a letter from an employer who knows your skills well, a letter from a physician you shadowed/worked with who knows your skills well, a letter from a volunteer coordinator who knows your skills well. The key is that the letters be exceptional. A detailed letter that can give clear examples of why you are an excellent candidate for medical school will generally trump a tepid letter from a famous person. Every school is different. Please check each school's individual letter requirements by visiting their website. A copy of an XLS spreadsheet from 2010 is attached to this post. The accuracy of this spreadsheet is unknown so be sure to check individual school websites! Keep in mind that a committee letter usually overrides any specific school requirements listed on the spreadsheet.
1a. But doesn't every school have different letter requirements?
Yes, they do. Do your homework, buy an MSAR (I hear from this thread that the way to go is to buy online access because the hard copy is not as useful:http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=811023), and look at the school websites. Also, AMCAS has a link to every school; use it and figure out what you need for the schools you're applying to. https://www.aamc.org/students/applyi...ating_schools/ You can get a rough idea from the attached XLS spreadsheet but check school websites to confirm.
1b. But do I really really have to get X type of letter? (2 non-science, 1 science, a letter from my PI)
The short answer: yes. The long answer: Maybe...it depends on the school. No one on SDN can answer this for you. But the general rule in medical school admissions is do what you are told. Get the two science letters. If you can't...call the schools you're applying to and see if they will make an exception. But be aware that the answer may be no.

2. I am a non-traditional student and have been out of school for awhile. Can I get around the letter requirements?

The simple answer is probably no. If you are a non-traditional student, this doesn't mean that you have an easier time getting into medical school; the same hoops still need to be jumped through. Being out of school for awhile is likely a problem in itself; schools want to see recent evidence that you can handle the coursework necessary to get through medical school. Take some classes, form relationships, and get the letters you need to. If you must, you can contact each school individually to see if they would be ok with you submitting alternate letters, but be aware that the answer may be "no".

3. My school has a medical school admissions committee, and they produce a committee letter. But the letter won't be released until really LATE! (August, September, October). Can I just skip the committee and collect my own letters?
The general wisdom on this topic is that if your school has a committee, USE IT! If you don't, you will be asked why and will need a very good reason. You are circumventing the committee at your own risk.

4. How/when can I submit letters of req to AMCAS?
Once the application opens in May, you may begin submitting letters to AMCAS. Before you can mail a letter in, you must "create' the letter in your AMCAS application. This involves you telling AMCAS who the letter writer is and naming the letter in AMCAS. AMCAS will then give this letter an ID number. It is important for you to give your letter writer both your AMCAS ID number and the Letter ID number to avoid any snafus with lost letters. Your letter writer can then mail the letter into AMCAS with these two pieces of information, and the letter will be uploaded to your file and will be available to assign to any school you wish. I am told that while AMCAS will accept documents without your AMCAS ID on them, you MUST have the Letter ID or AMCAS will not accept it. I don't have firsthand knowledge of whether or not this is true.

You can create and submit letters at any time, including after you submit your application and after you are verified. This is one of the few parts of the application you can edit after submission.

5. Do I have to know which letters are going to which school when I first submit my AMCAS application?
NO! You can submit your application without assigning letters. Again, this is one of the few parts of the application that can be altered later. HOWEVER, once you assign a letter to a school, you CANNOT un-assign it. If the letter is present in AMCAS, and you assign it to a school, it WILL go to that school. However, if you "create" the letter in AMCAS, assign it to a school, but your letter writer never sends the letter in, you can notify AMCAS (and the school, through the AMCAS application) that the letter will no longer be sent.

6. How many schools use the AMCAS Letter service?
This year, it looks like all but 4 schools that participate in AMCAS are participating in the letter service. Those non-participating schools are:
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicinein Shreveport
Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans
Universidad Central Del Caribe
University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine.

The participating schools can be found here: https://www.aamc.org/students/applyi...ating_schools/

7. Is it in my best interest to have my letter writers write different letters for each school?
Probably not. AMCAS can only hold a maximum of 10 letters for you. If you need a minimum of 3 letters for each school, these slots will be used up rather quickly.

8. What are letter services such as Interfolio, and why do people use them?
Interfolio and other companies provide secure online letter holding services. You can have your letters uploaded to these services at any time so that you're not scrambling at the last minute (or during the summer!) to get letters into your application. This can be especially beneficial when you are 9 months or so out from your planned application cycle, but know the professor you have NOW will write you a great letter. You can have them write the letter, upload it to a letter service, and then many months later have the letter sent to AMCAS once the application opens. When you do this, you have the ability to add on both your AMCAS ID and the Letter ID to the letter. All your letter writer needs to do is upload the letter (or mail it in) on letterhead and with a signature. These sites are secure and they do not allow you to read the letter beforehand.

9. What else about letters do I need to know?
Your letter must be SIGNED, and should be on OFFICIAL LETTERHEAD whenever possible. This is something that holds people up every year. Some schools will even hold up your application because of this. Also, AMCAS has a beautiful FAQ dealing with letters here: https://www.aamc.org/students/applyi...ding_page.html

10. How should I ask someone for a letter of req?
On this one, I will give my own experience. For each letter writer, I prepared a packet. In the packet I had:
A list of all of my science grades (or non-science grades for a non-science prof)
A copy of my resume
A rough draft of my personal statement
A guide to writing medical school letters (which can be found by googling), a reminder that the letter needed to be signed and on letterhead.

Before handing them this (because who wants all that before they even say yes!) I asked them point blank if they "would feel comfortable writing me a strong letter of recommendation for medical school". Always do this in person!!! If they hesitate...walk away. Seriously. You don't want this person writing your letter.

When they enthusiastically said yes, I pulled the packet out of my backpack and gave it to them.

Because I used Interfolio, I did not need to provide them with my AMCAS ID or Letter ID, but instead told them that they would get an email from Interfolio that evening with instructions on how to upload the letter. Give them a FIRM deadline (2-4 weeks seems to work best) for when you need the letter. Don't ask at the last minute. Don't ask when you think a billion other people will be asking. Do offer to provide them with any other supplementary information they would like. And do give them a thank-you note (and maybe a Starbucks card) when they submit the letter.

11. OMG! My letter writer has not written my letter!!! It has been minutes/hours/days/weeks/months and I'm freaking out!! What do I do!?
First, stop by or email and gently remind them that you need the letter by X date. If this doesn't work, I have given them a premature Thank-You note with a small token, and this seems to light a fire. I recommended this method to someone on SDN last year and it apparently worked like a charm.

If this isn't working....you do the same thing you do whenever something goes awry - find a plan B. Ask someone else...two other people even, just in case this person does not come through. You can't have too many letters. But you can have too few.

12. Do I have to waive my right to see the letters?
No. But if you don't schools might not see them as letters that carry much weight. Waive your right. If you know the person well enough, you should have a pretty good idea of what they are going to write.

13. If I apply this June, and I have given every school my 5 chosen LOR's with committee letter through AMCAS virtual evals upload by my prehealth office, and then I get anther LOR over the summer/fall and want to send it to all schools in December, do I have to have the prof mail it to all 25 schools or will AMCAS distribute it?

or, tl;dr: Can I submit my application without the letters?
You can add a letter at ANY time in AMCAS, have it sent to AMCAS, and AMCAS will distribute it.
You may want to shoot an email to each school letting them know to expect another letter just in case. They should be updating your file continuously (they will want your current contact info, and often people change their addresses mid cycle) but they may not always do it in a timely manner.

Please send me a PM if you know of additional questions suitable for the FAQ.
 

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Here are some additional useful and official links from AAMC/AMCAS on letters, including a school by school policy on letters and guidelines for what information your letters writers should include. These guidelines, which are both linked and attached as files should be give to each of your letter writers when requesting a recommendation. Survey evidence has shown this helpful to the writers when preparing letters for you. Additionally, you may want to attach links to the AAMC Letter Service and/or Letter Service tutorial when requesting a letter. Anything that makes a writers task easier is alway appreciated. Also linked below are information and various tasks that applicants ask about frequently .

AMCAS Medical Schools Letter of Evaluation Policies (update Oct 2016)

AAMC Letter Writers Guide (Brochure)
AAMC Letters Writer Guide (Handout)
Letters of Evaluation Guidelines for Writers/Advisors
AAMC Letter Service for Advisors/Writers
AAMC Letter Service Tutorial for Advisors/Writers
AAMC Survey on Guidelines
AMCAS Section 6: Letters of Evaluation
AMCAS Letters FAQ
Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students
AMCAS Adding Letters and Assigning to Medical School Tutorial
AMCAS Adding/Matching Letter after Primary has been submitted Tutorial
Ask Admissions Webinar: How to Select Letter Writers and What Admissions Committees Learn About You
AMCAS 2018 Instruction Manual
 

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Feels weird being the first person to post questions here, but here I am. I have read the two FAQs and some of Gonnif's resources, but I'm not sure if my questions were answered. (Slowly processing those and the old LOR thread.)

I'm a science (microbio) major and I have some letters collected (in Interfolio) and anticipated (supposed to be in Interfolio in two weeks) for this MD/DO cycle:

- 1 DO letter
- 1 department counselor letter
- 1 PI letter (#qtr + 1qtr lecture class)
- 2 science faculty letters ("How to Research" (2qtr) + Immuno (1qtr + ongoing relationship))
- up to 2 more science faculty letters? (an Ecology class + a science-teaching class (2qtr))
- 0 committee letters (UC school)

Questions:
- What does the department counselor letter count as? Advisor isn't a category per se.
- Do I need another science letter from that Ecology class (got an A, interaction = some OH, >150-student lecture)? I don't think so if first 2 > last 2 (but if this letter can come in faster than the others...).
- Are EC letters advised/required anywhere, and if so, would the PI letter work, since I have done independent research with him even without a class?
- The teaching class is called Undergraduate Practicum in the Life Sciences. We never learned science in it, unless you call teaching (science material to underclassmen)/public speaking a science. My second quarter of it, the LS version merged with the Physical Sciences version, and we got an additional seminar headed by PS faculty who taught us even more about how to teach. Would this count as a science letter since all faculty and the classes are affiliated with science departments, or something else (hopefully non-science) because of the course content?
- For non-science, I can (1) get a letter from one grad student whose class I enjoyed and stood out in two years ago who isn't at my school anymore (he's somewhat nearby if I need him); or (2) get a letter from another grad student whose class I'm taking right now, who I have yet to "bond" with. (My biggest impact in the class will come after DO apps open...) Is there a "better" option of the two (probably #2)? Both are decidedly non-science affiliated, teach smaller discussion-based classes, and would be asked for PhD cosign.
- How short-notice is TOO short-notice? My PI would prefer my research be submitted for publication first (it's my collaborator holding up the line...); and there is that non-science Option 2... Then again, old thread seems to indicate I technically have until July/secondaries to get them in...

Thanks for the help!
 
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gonnif

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Feels weird being the first person to post questions here, but here I am. I have read the two FAQs and some of Gonnif's resources, but I'm not sure if my questions were answered. (Slowly processing those and the old LOR thread.)

I'm a science (microbio) major and I have some letters collected (in Interfolio) and anticipated (supposed to be in Interfolio in two weeks) for this MD/DO cycle:

- 1 DO letter
- 1 department counselor letter
- 1 PI letter (#qtr + 1qtr lecture class)
- 2 science faculty letters ("How to Research" (2qtr) + Immuno (1qtr + ongoing relationship))
- up to 2 more science faculty letters? (an Ecology class + a science-teaching class (2qtr))
- 0 committee letters (UC school)

- What does the department counselor letter count as? Advisor isn't a category per se.
What department is the counselor? Micro? It really doesnt count as much on its on but should be positioned a "committee" letter in the sense it should be an overview and evaluation of all your work in the department

- Do I need another science letter from that Ecology class (got an A, interaction = some OH, >150-student lecture)? I don't think so if first 2 > last 2 (but if this letter can come in faster than the others...).
You have a science PI that you took class with, Immuno class prof and a how to research. Thats enough

- Are EC letters advised/required anywhere, and if so, would the PI letter work, since I have done independent research with him even without a class?
No, you dont need EC letters

- The teaching class is called Undergraduate Practicum in the Life Sciences. We never learned science in it, unless you call teaching (science material to underclassmen)/public speaking a science. My second quarter of it, the LS version merged with the Physical Sciences version, and we got an additional seminar headed by PS faculty who taught us even more about how to teach. Would this count as a science letter since all faculty and the classes are affiliated with science departments, or something else (hopefully non-science) because of the course content?
it is technically a nonscience but it is not going to be as useful as a "real" nonscience.

- For non-science, I can (1) get a letter from one grad student whose class I enjoyed and stood out in two years ago who isn't at my school anymore (he's somewhat nearby if I need him); or (2) get a letter from another grad student whose class I'm taking right now, who I have yet to "bond" with. (My biggest impact in the class will come after DO apps open...) Is there a "better" option of the two (probably #2)? Both are decidedly non-science affiliated, teach smaller discussion-based classes, and would be asked for PhD cosign.
Get one of these, the two years ago is fine, get currently faculty or previous adviser for grad student or dept chair to cosign

- How short-notice is TOO short-notice? My PI would prefer my research be submitted for publication first (it's my collaborator holding up the line...); and there is that non-science Option 2... Then again, old thread seems to indicate I technically have until July/secondaries to get them in...
You can get the letters in September, really it wont matter much. Letters are the last thing typically needed
 
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tbonez71

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Hello, I have a two questions, for situations which I feel aren't that uncommon but I still haven't been able to find the answer to. For context I have 5 letters currently, all very strong: 1 science prof, 1 non-science prof, 1 clincial experience, 2 research experience

1. I worked in a non-bio research lab for 2 years, and worked directly under a PhD student (NOT post-doc) in a team with several other undergrads (each PhD student in this lab had several workers underneath them). The PI only came by once every week or two (he was not involved at all in the day-to-day), and in fact I hardly ever had the opportunity to meet him since it was often on days I did not work. I published with the PhD student as a middle author. This was several years ago, the PhD student has since graduated, and moved back to his home country (or so I have heard). I have contacted him but no response. Do I ask the PI who hardly knows me for a possibly mediocre letter? How big of a red flag is it to NOT have a letter from my only experience where I had a publication, especially at research heavy schools? If I found a way to contact the student, can he write the letter or does it look bad to have someone who was a non-PhD write it?

2. Except for the 2 I already have, I don't know any professors well enough for a strong evaluation letter (large school). I am also non-trad, though I feel it is somewhat late to go back to school just for a letter, not to mention I work full-time. What do you recommend people in my position do to get that last science letter? I have emailed another professor with no response back, so I am sweating trying to meet the 2 science professor requirement.
 
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gonnif

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Hello, I have a two questions, for situations which I feel aren't that uncommon but I still haven't been able to find the answer to. For context I have 5 letters currently, all very strong: 1 science prof, 1 non-science prof, 1 clincial experience, 2 research experience

1. I worked in a non-bio research lab for 2 years, and worked directly under a PhD student (NOT post-doc) in a team with several other undergrads (each PhD student in this lab had several workers underneath them). The PI only came by once every week or two (he was not involved at all in the day-to-day), and in fact I hardly ever had the opportunity to meet him since it was often on days I did not work. I published with the PhD student as a middle author. This was several years ago, the PhD student has since graduated, and moved back to his home country (or so I have heard). I have contacted him but no response. Do I ask the PI who hardly knows me for a possibly mediocre letter? How big of a red flag is it to NOT have a letter from my only experience where I had a publication, especially at research heavy schools? If I found a way to contact the student, can he write the letter or does it look bad to have someone who was a non-PhD write it?

2. Except for the 2 I already have, I don't know any professors well enough for a strong evaluation letter (large school). I am also non-trad, though I feel it is somewhat late to go back to school just for a letter, not to mention I work full-time. What do you recommend people in my position do to get that last science letter? I have emailed another professor with no response back, so I am sweating trying to meet the 2 science professor requirement.
Who are the two research experience letters from?
 

tbonez71

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Who are the two research experience letters from?
A biotech startup I worked at for the better part of a year, the CSO (PhD). The other is a medical device company doing clinical research and trials, with a poster submitted to a national conference, with a manuscript being written (no chance of anything being published before I submit applications). Letter is from my boss.
 

gonnif

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A biotech startup I worked at for the better part of a year, the CSO (PhD). The other is a medical device company doing clinical research and trials, with a poster submitted to a national conference, with a manuscript being written (no chance of anything being published before I submit applications). Letter is from my boss.
none of the above will work for the science letter but I would get the CSO letter. As a nontrad, I do not think you will have an issue being short a science letter
 

tbonez71

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none of the above will work for the science letter but I would get the CSO letter. As a nontrad, I do not think you will have an issue being short a science letter
That's relieving! I didn't want to have to send a very average letter just to fill a requirement. Do you think my current research letters are a good enough substitute for not having my PI (from the publication) letter? I'm was worried it may be a red flag of some sort, to be published yet no LOE from that lab. Then again, what do I know?

Thanks for all your advice :D
 

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Hi! I have a similar question - I am a non-trad applicant and plan on obtaining 6 LORs. 1 research, 1 physician/mentor, 1 client (from current work), 1 humanities, and 2 science (?). I'm not sure of how to classify my last two recommenders. Both within my department of biomedical engineering - 1 was my physiology professor [our curriculum didn't have one standard bio class, but several classes to fulfill the requirement] and 1 was a computational biomedical engineering professor and my advisor for three years. I'm most concerned about that last letter since it's technically not a hard science course. Do you think this would count or should I work to obtain a new letter?

Thanks!
 

gonnif

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Hi! I have a similar question - I am a non-trad applicant and plan on obtaining 6 LORs. 1 research, 1 physician/mentor, 1 client (from current work), 1 humanities, and 2 science (?). I'm not sure of how to classify my last two recommenders. Both within my department of biomedical engineering - 1 was my physiology professor [our curriculum didn't have one standard bio class, but several classes to fulfill the requirement] and 1 was a computational biomedical engineering professor and my advisor for three years. I'm most concerned about that last letter since it's technically not a hard science course. Do you think this would count or should I work to obtain a new letter?
You should be okay. LORs tend to be the least technically strict requirement. Consider most adcoms who read this are academic physicians or biomedical researchers, a biomed engineering prof will pass muster. Indeed, in some of the schools that have more detailed letter guidelines, such as CWRU, biomed engineering is specifically allowed. And the quality and depth of the letters and the evidence it shows as a pattern for the rest of the applicant's background is what matters.

In sum, you are fine
 

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You should be okay. LORs tend to be the least technically strict requirement. Consider most adcoms who read this are academic physicians or biomedical researchers, a biomed engineering prof will pass muster. Indeed, in some of the schools that have more detailed letter guidelines, such as CWRU, biomed engineering is specifically allowed. And the quality and depth of the letters and the evidence it shows as a pattern for the rest of the applicant's background is what matters.

In sum, you are fine
Great, thank you! An additional question - in terms of the letter from my school's pre-medical advising office, mine in particular wasn't helpful to me due to their infamiliarity with the engineering curriculum. However, my major has a boiler plate letter that breaks down our curriculum and how it ties to the pre-med requirements. I just have to ask my recommender to include the letter with their recommendation for me. Should this suffice even though it is not from an official office?
 

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Great, thank you! An additional question - in terms of the letter from my school's pre-medical advising office, mine in particular wasn't helpful to me due to their infamiliarity with the engineering curriculum. However, my major has a boiler plate letter that breaks down our curriculum and how it ties to the pre-med requirements. I just have to ask my recommender to include the letter with their recommendation for me. Should this suffice even though it is not from an official office?
1) When you say a letter from the premed office, are you referring a committee letter? Are you using these letters above as part of a committee letter?
2) When you say include the boiler plate letter, I presume you mean the recommender will just make a mention of it in your LOR and attach a copy of the boiler plate? if so that is fine.
3) Just to reiterate, the LOR should be about your abilities and I suggest that all applicants give all their recommenders a copy of the AAMC Letter Writer Guide when requesting a letter. This guide was developed from a survey of admissions deans, directors, etc, as to what they want to see in a letter . It is attached below
 

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teamoteamo

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1) When you say a letter from the premed office, are you referring a committee letter? Are you using these letters above as part of a committee letter?
2) When you say include the boiler plate letter, I presume you mean the recommender will just make a mention of it in your LOR and attach a copy of the boiler plate? if so that is fine.
3) Just to reiterate, the LOR should be about your abilities and I suggest that all applicants give all their recommenders a copy of the AAMC Letter Writer Guide when requesting a letter. This guide was developed from a survey of admissions deans, directors, etc, as to what they want to see in a letter . It is attached below
1. I was referring to the committee letter, yes. I guess I am wondering if I need one if I have 6 LORs + this boilerplate letter
2. Yes, they will make mention of it, attach it, and will also write my personal recommendation
3. Thanks so much for the attachment!!
 

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1. I was referring to the committee letter, yes. I guess I am wondering if I need one if I have 6 LORs + this boilerplate letter
You have two primary methods to fulfill letters of recommendation to medical school

1) Committee Letter, where the requirements and process to fill this are dictated solely by the undergraduate prehealth committee. Virtually every medical school in the country, with just a few exceptions, will accept committee letter as filling the letter of recommendation requirement. The vast majority of medical schools require, recommend, or prefer committee letters . The requirements for the committee letter are set solely by each undergraduate institution

OR

2) Individual Letters, where the requirements of the letters are dictated by each individual medical school.
These two methods are mutually exclusive of one another. If you using a committee letter, you do not need to fill the individual letter requirement of specific numbers of science/non-science faculty. The requirements for individual letters are set solely by each individual medical school

So if your school has a committee, which I presume is in the college of arts and sciences, the question is why aren't you using them? if your school is a well-known premed "powerhouse" or has a committee with a solid reputation, you should investigate. Your premed advisor seemed baffled by the biomed. Being in the engineering school and being a nontrad makes this less important. Individual letters seem to be the way to go for you
 
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gonnif

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Would a letter from an evolution professor count towards the two science professor minimum?
At most schools yes. At a few schools with detailed requirements, such as CWRU, it would not. remember while 2 science/1 non-science is the rule of thumb, you must check each and every school's specific requirements, recommendations, or preferences on letters. Additionally, if you are using committee letter, you must check with your UG premed advisor on their requirements. You only need to fulfill Individual Letter Requirement or Committee Letter Requirement, not both
 

IWillMakeIt1

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I am afraid that the committee letter would delay my application, is it possible to send indvidual letters first, then send the committee letter when its ready?
 

rewind100.24

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Before meeting with a professor that I only know semi-well (one class, several office hours only), what types of questions should I prepare to answer? I will be giving them my resume, transcript, etc., but what else do professors generally like to know?

Thanks!
 

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Hi! So I'm planning on asking my neuroscience professor for a letter. This is the same neuroscience professor who wrote me a letter for my summer internship applications. I'm meeting with her soon to update her about my summer applications and my summer plans, during which I also plan on asking her for a letter for med schools applications. I was planning on giving her a thank you card and a small gift (box of chocolates) because she worked really hard to write those summer application letters (she wrote over 10 letters). Would this seem like I'm bribing her though (to write me a letter for med school)? I don't want it to come off as that, but at the same time I don't want to seem inconsiderate for not seeming to appreciate her work for the previous letters. Maybe I'm thinking too much into this. Thoughts?
 
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gonnif

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I am afraid that the committee letter would delay my application, is it possible to send indvidual letters first, then send the committee letter when its ready?
1) most schools require, recommend, or prefer committee letters
2) you should do either committee letter or individual letters not both
3) committee letter process at most schools require letters sent to them for the evaluation
4) letters are no part of the primary application process nor in most cases expected until after secondary.
5) please explain why you think that sending in a weaker application earlier is somehow better than a stronger one with the committee letter that most schools require, recommend or prefer or how you will explain on those secondaries or interviews why dont have one?
 

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Before meeting with a professor that I only know semi-well (one class, several office hours only), what types of questions should I prepare to answer? I will be giving them my resume, transcript, etc., but what else do professors generally like to know?

Thanks!
every professor is different. I would suggest that you look over the AAMC letter writers guode, take some of the points and fill in with your characteristics and qualities so you have some talking points when meeting with professor.
 

gonnif

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Hi! So I'm planning on asking my neuroscience professor for a letter. This is the same neuroscience professor who wrote me a letter for my summer internship applications. I'm meeting with her soon to update her about my summer applications and my summer plans, during which I also plan on asking her for a letter for med schools applications. I was planning on giving her a thank you card and a small gift (box of chocolates) because she worked really hard to write those summer application letters (she wrote over 10 letters). Would this seem like I'm bribing her though (to write me a letter for med school)? I don't want it to come off as that, but at the same time I don't want to seem inconsiderate for not seeming to appreciate her work for the previous letters. Maybe I'm thinking too much into this. Thoughts?
You are over thinking it, though I would suggest bearing gifts for previous letter when asking for new letter is not the way it should be done. The thank you should have been sent previously. I would wait and send thank and chocolates after this meeting for both letters.

I can be bribed for really good dark chocolate
 
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IWillMakeIt1

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1) most schools require, recommend, or prefer committee letters
2) you should do either committee letter or individual letters not both
3) committee letter process at most schools require letters sent to them for the evaluation
4) letters are no part of the primary application process nor in most cases expected until after secondary.
5) please explain why you think that sending in a weaker application earlier is somehow better than a stronger one with the committee letter that most schools require, recommend or prefer or how you will explain on those secondaries or interviews why dont have one?
What if I want to send an MD letter, or a DO letter and/or a supervisor letter?
 

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Is it better to have separate LORs from members of the same lab, or have one single letter from the PI that will touch on other lab member's perspective?

I am debating whether I should ask members in my lab (PI, project scientist, post-doc) who I have worked with and could speak about my research skills and personal qualities (each of them know me to a good extent and we have had either publications or posters), or I should solely ask my PI for his/her LOR but to touch on how others in the lab think of me.
 

gonnif

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Is it better to have separate LORs from members of the same lab, or have one single letter from the PI that will touch on other lab member's perspective?

I am debating whether I should ask members in my lab (PI, project scientist, post-doc) who I have worked with and could speak about my research skills and personal qualities (each of them know me to a good extent and we have had either publications or posters), or I should solely ask my PI for his/her LOR but to touch on how others in the lab think of me.
So you want an adcom to read multiple letters from the same lab along with all the other letters that you will be getting? too many letters. Why dont you ask for a letter from the PI with input from all and they all can co-sign the letter
 
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DameJulie

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So you want an adcom to read multiple letters from the same lab along with all the other letters that you will be getting? too many letters. Why dont you ask for a letter from the PI with input from all and they all can co-sign the letter
Thanks Gonnif. Research is a significant-growing part in my re-application, so I want to highlight that. Just worried about whether I should have multiple letters to talk about me from different perspectives, or just a single letter summing together (not sure if PI is cool with that though).
Co-signing would be difficult since some members have left the lab. I am talking about ~3-4 individuals total in the lab who could write me the LOR.
 

gonnif

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Thanks Gonnif. Research is a significant-growing part in my re-application, so I want to highlight that. Just worried about whether I should have multiple letters to talk about me from different perspectives, or just a single letter summing together (not sure if PI is cool with that though).
Co-signing would be difficult since some members have left the lab. I am talking about ~3-4 individuals total in the lab who could write me the LOR.
Having 3-4 letters from the same lab is overkill and could possibly be viewed as just trying to build up something to more than it is. Talk to your PI an ask if they would be willing to incorporate views from the former members in the lab into their letter. If so, then have the former members send email/comments to the PI. It would be appropriate for the PI/lab director to solicit views from those who worked under him/her about you.

My point here is 1 letter from the lab is appropriate
 
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You're not applying to a PhD program. We have to read these things and one LOR is enough.


Thanks Gonnif. Research is a significant-growing part in my re-application, so I want to highlight that. Just worried about whether I should have multiple letters to talk about me from different perspectives, or just a single letter summing together (not sure if PI is cool with that though).
Co-signing would be difficult since some members have left the lab. I am talking about ~3-4 individuals total in the lab who could write me the LOR.
 
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DameJulie

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Having 3-4 letters from the same lab is overkill and could possibly be viewed as just trying to build up something to more than it is. Talk to your PI an ask if they would be willing to incorporate views from the former members in the lab into their letter. If so, then have the former members send email/comments to the PI. It would be appropriate for the PI/lab director to solicit views from those who worked under him/her about you.

My point here is 1 letter from the lab is appropriate
You're not applying to a PhD program. We have to read these things and one LOR is enough.
Thank you both for your input!
 
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RobertSacamano

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I will be getting a committee letter. Would it be bad if my support letters are one prof, and 2 supervisors? I'm having a hard time getting teacher LORs
 

gonnif

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I will be getting a committee letter. Would it be bad if my support letters are one prof, and 2 supervisors? I'm having a hard time getting teacher LORs
when you say support letters, you are referring to letters that will be given to premed committee to write their letter? If so, requirements for that are solely up to the committee. However, it would be unusual that you cant get 2 or 3 letters out of all the instructors you have had.
 
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RobertSacamano

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when you say support letters, you are referring to letters that will be given to premed committee to write their letter? If so, requirements for that are solely up to the committee. However, it would be unusual that you cant get 2 or 3 letters out of all the instructors you have had.
By support letters, I am referring to letters that would be attached to the committee letter, not letters that would be used by the premed committee to write the letter.
 

stilllovegreys

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I'm a non-trad and I want to get a letter from my former boss who I worked with for years; however, I no longer work for the company and neither does she. What do I do about a letterhead in this situation?
 
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  • What department is the counselor? Micro? It really doesnt count as much on its on but should be positioned a "committee" letter in the sense it should be an overview and evaluation of all your work in the department.
  • You have a science PI that you took class with, Immuno class prof and a how to research. Thats enough.
  • No, you dont need EC letters.
  • It is technically a nonscience but it is not going to be as useful as a "real" nonscience.
  • Get one of these, the two years ago is fine, get currently faculty or previous adviser for grad student or dept chair to cosign.
  • You can get the letters in September, really it wont matter much. Letters are the last thing typically needed.
Thanks for the answers! As I thought for the science letters; phew for the EC letters and the September LOR deadline; and darn for the teaching letter (guess I gotta rely on the current grad student since the 2-years-ago dude either isn't responding to me or thinks I'm a stalker :dead:).

Regarding the LOR receipt deadline--is that the latest by which I won't be hurt by rolling admissions (e.g. if I receive a secondary in June/July rather than August), or the latest by which I'd be likely to be considered at all?

Regarding the "department counselor = committee letter" (yes, she's Microbio), would I literally just call it (the summary letter of) a committee letter on AMCAS? ... Hmm, if I go down this path, it'd have to be a DIY committee letter since UCLA doesn't have a dedicated premed advisor/committee, but I might have all/many of the components in or in the works... Must investigate.
 
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Can anyone cite information regarding the 2 science professor LOR minimum? I have found very few schools that actually ask for 2 letters from professors who have taught you in science classes (i.e. 1 science professor and 1 research PI generally suffices). In the top 20, Johns Hopkins and Harvard both state online that they would like two science letters from professors, but both have also confirmed that 1 letter from a professor and 1 letter from a PI is more than acceptable.
 

gonnif

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Can anyone cite information regarding the 2 science professor LOR minimum? I have found very few schools that actually ask for 2 letters from professors who have taught you in science classes (i.e. 1 science professor and 1 research PI generally suffices). In the top 20, Johns Hopkins and Harvard both state online that they would like two science letters from professors, but both have also confirmed that 1 letter from a professor and 1 letter from a PI is more than acceptable.
That statement would appear incorrect as both Hopkins and Harvard both specifically ask for two science and one non science. Both also require letters from all research supervisors. See below citations
Prerequisites and Requirements| Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine M.D. Admissions
(Bold Emphasis in the original; underlining added)
5. Letters of recommendation:

Committee letter (required if your college/university has an officially designated committee or advisor). Authored by a pre-health committee or advisor and intended to represent your institution's evaluation of you. A committee letter may or may not include additional letters written in support of your application; - OR -

Letter packet: A packet or set of letters assembled and distributed by your institution, often by the institution's career center. - OR -

Two (2) letters from faculty members in science departments who taught you are required if the college/university you have attended does not have a Committee/Advisor AND one (1) letter from a non-science faculty member who has taught you. In addition to the letters, applicants with advanced degrees or significant postgraduate work experience of one year or more, are required to send recommendations from each component of their education and major work experience.

In addition to those letters required for application to the MD Program, two additional letters of recommendation are required for all MD-PhD applicants. These letters are typically from faculty with whom the applicant has done research.

Admissions FAQs | HMS
(underlining added)
You are allowed up to six (6) letters of recommendation in support of your application. When considering the total number of letters to submit, please note the following:
    • At least (2) letters should be from professors in the sciences with whom you have taken classes.
    • At least one (1) letter should be written by a professor who is not in the sciences.
    • We should receive letters from all of your research supervisors. This is true for both applicants to the MD/PhD program as well as applicants to the MD only track.
    • If you wish to supplement a premedical advisory committee evaluation packet with additional letters of recommendation, count the packet as one (1) letter towards the six letter maximum.
    • We do not require letters of recommendation from employers, but if you have been out of school and working it is advisable to have a letter sent from your place of employment.
 
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gonnif

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Thanks for the answers! As I thought for the science letters; phew for the EC letters and the September LOR deadline; and darn for the teaching letter (guess I gotta rely on the current grad student since the 2-years-ago dude either isn't responding to me or thinks I'm a stalker :dead:).
Regarding the LOR receipt deadline--is that the latest by which I won't be hurt by rolling admissions (e.g. if I receive a secondary in June/July rather than August), or the latest by which I'd be likely to be considered at all?
The issue isn't rolling admissions but the finite number of interview slots. Being complete by Labor Day is early and by late September is normal. If you get a secondary done in July, at most schools it wont be read until August as that is when full committees start regular reviews

Regarding the "department counselor = committee letter" (yes, she's Microbio), would I literally just call it (the summary letter of) a committee letter on AMCAS? ... Hmm, if I go down this path, it'd have to be a DIY committee letter since UCLA doesn't have a dedicated premed advisor/committee, but I might have all/many of the components in or in the works... Must investigate.
No, just have it as a regular letter but let her write it in the capacity as the departmental counselor and seek input from those department faculty and staff you have interacted with
 
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The issue isn't rolling admissions but the finite number of interview slots. Being complete by Labor Day is early and by late September is normal. If you get a secondary done in July, at most schools it wont be read until August as that is when full committees start regular reviews.
I see. Thank you!
 
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That statement would appear incorrect as both Hopkins and Harvard both specifically ask for two science and one non science. Both also require letters from all research supervisors. See below citations
Prerequisites and Requirements| Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine M.D. Admissions
(Bold Emphasis in the original; underlining added)
5. Letters of recommendation:

Committee letter (required if your college/university has an officially designated committee or advisor). Authored by a pre-health committee or advisor and intended to represent your institution's evaluation of you. A committee letter may or may not include additional letters written in support of your application; - OR -

Letter packet: A packet or set of letters assembled and distributed by your institution, often by the institution's career center. - OR -

Two (2) letters from faculty members in science departments who taught you are required if the college/university you have attended does not have a Committee/Advisor AND one (1) letter from a non-science faculty member who has taught you. In addition to the letters, applicants with advanced degrees or significant postgraduate work experience of one year or more, are required to send recommendations from each component of their education and major work experience.

In addition to those letters required for application to the MD Program, two additional letters of recommendation are required for all MD-PhD applicants. These letters are typically from faculty with whom the applicant has done research.

Admissions FAQs | HMS
(underlining added)
You are allowed up to six (6) letters of recommendation in support of your application. When considering the total number of letters to submit, please note the following:
    • At least (2) letters should be from professors in the sciences with whom you have taken classes.
    • At least one (1) letter should be written by a professor who is not in the sciences.
    • We should receive letters from all of your research supervisors. This is true for both applicants to the MD/PhD program as well as applicants to the MD only track.
    • If you wish to supplement a premedical advisory committee evaluation packet with additional letters of recommendation, count the packet as one (1) letter towards the six letter maximum.
    • We do not require letters of recommendation from employers, but if you have been out of school and working it is advisable to have a letter sent from your place of employment.
Right, in my original post I wrote that both schools state that they require letters from two science professors, but upon reaching out to them, both schools confirmed that this is actually not a hard requirement and one science professor/one lab PI letter will suffice for the two science letter requirement. There are very few schools that actually require two letters from professors who have taught you in the sciences. This thread is very misleading.
 

gonnif

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Right, in my original post I wrote that both schools state that they require letters from two science professors, but upon reaching out to them, both schools confirmed that this is actually not a hard requirement and one science professor/one lab PI letter will suffice for the two science letter requirement. There are very few schools that actually require two letters from professors who have taught you in the sciences. This thread is very misleading.
Please explain how your guidance of an unsubstantiated, unverifiable report is appropriate over the published policy of the majority of schools or how anyone one on SDN following such guidance wouldn't be at tremendous risk for doing so? If a doctor were to follow such guidance on a patient over published protocol or established practice he/she may be looking at the loss of license or a malpractice case.

Additionally, the process at Hopkins has been established by its long time admissions director/dean, who, as a Yale-educated lawyer, would be appalled that anyone on his staff would be out of compliance with published policy on this topic.
 
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I have a rather mundane question. I just finished watching the AMCAS Letter Writer Application video, just so I knew how to guide my letter writers with instructions. Do you think it would be best to send the necessary materials to my recommenders at this time - and just wait until May to give them formal instruction on uploading since I won't have the Letter ID number until the application opens? Is that the only way around giving all of the instructions at once?
 

gonnif

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I have a rather mundane question. I just finished watching the AMCAS Letter Writer Application video, just so I knew how to guide my letter writers with instructions. Do you think it would be best to send the necessary materials to my recommenders at this time - and just wait until May to give them formal instruction on uploading since I won't have the Letter ID number until the application opens? Is that the only way around giving all of the instructions at once?
I would suggest that you send them at the time of the letter request, the AAMC Letter Writers guide and pamphlet as well as a text/pdf and link version of the instructions how they need to load it in May. I would presume most professors will not get to the letters until after finals and grades are completed in May
 
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Please explain how your guidance of an unsubstantiated, unverifiable report is appropriate over the published policy of the majority of schools or how anyone one on SDN following such guidance wouldn't be at tremendous risk for doing so? If a doctor were to follow such guidance on a patient over published protocol or established practice he/she may be looking at the loss of license or a malpractice case.

Additionally, the process at Hopkins has been established by its long time admissions director/dean, who, as a Yale-educated lawyer, would be appalled that anyone on his staff would be out of compliance with published policy on this topic.
It's not unverifiable, you can give their admissions office a call or send them an email to confirm this information. My point is just that there are very very few schools that state online they require two science letters, and of the ones that do state this requirement, at least Harvard and Hopkins don't consider it a hard requirement. There is no sense in making this analogy to the practice of a doctor because there is no person that is at risk of harm by an ADCOM's decision to not 100% strictly follow the policy they have posted online. Again, I just wanted to make it clear that it is not necessary, nor is it severely limiting, to not have letters from 2 science professors who have taught you.
 

tbonez71

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I can also confirm that Harvard (unsure about Hopkins) is sending emails that say that the professor letters are not hard requirements. The language they used is that they prefer it, yet what letters are sent are up to our discretion and we would still be considered despite not including 2 science letters.

However, I would assume that given it is Harvard, and the applicant pool they are able to select from, you would likely need a very good reason for not including those.
 

stilllovegreys

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I'm a non-trad and I want to get a letter from my former boss who I worked with for years; however, I no longer work for the company and neither does she. What do I do about a letterhead in this situation?
No one? Should we just explain that the company moved its office to a different city?
 
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