*~*~*~*Official Letters of Recommendation Questions Thread 2018-2019*~*~*~*

Apr 26, 2018
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My school's committee letter consists of letters from 2 science and 1 non-science professors. I also have individual letters from my PI, my supervisor from my clinical experience, and a doctor that I have shadowed. The committee only accepts the three professor letters, which is why the other 3 are submitted individually and not as a part of the packet. I am obviously sending the committee letter to all of the schools that I am applying to, but does this count as 1 letter or 3 letters (from the 3 professors)? Like if a school says it only accepts 3 letters, does this just mean the committee letter or can I submit that and 2 other ones? Or if a school takes 3-5 letters, is that the committee plus 2 more or plus 4 more?? Thanks in advance!!
 
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gonnif

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My school's committee letter consists of letters from 2 science and 1 non-science professors. I also have individual letters from my PI, my supervisor from my clinical experience, and a doctor that I have shadowed. The committee only accepts the three professor letters, which is why the other 3 are submitted individually and not as a part of the packet. I am obviously sending the committee letter to all of the schools that I am applying to, but does this count as 1 letter or 3 letters (from the 3 professors)? Like if a school says it only accepts 3 letters, does this just mean the committee letter or can I submit that and 2 other ones? Or if a school takes 3-5 letters, is that the committee plus 2 more or plus 4 more?? Thanks in advance!!
1) committee letter is counted as single letter
2) which letter requirement are you fulfilling at each medical school, committee or indivdual?
 
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Apr 26, 2018
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1) committee letter is counted as single letter
2) which letter requirement are you fulfilling at each medical school, committee or indivdual?
I'm not totally sure which requirement I would be fulfilling at each school. I'll be submitting the committee letter to each school, so would that mean that I am fulfilling that requirement? But I also want to be able to submit additional individual letters since the committee at my school will only accept 3 professor letters to put in their packet. Can I not submit the committee letter and the other individual letters to the same school?
 
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gonnif

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I'm not totally sure which requirement I would be fulfilling at each school. I'll be submitting the committee letter to each school, so would that mean that I am fulfilling that requirement? But I also want to be able to submit additional individual letters since the committee at my school will only accept 3 professor letters to put in their packet. Can I not submit the committee letter and the other individual letters to the same school?
And again I ask how will the school know which requirement you are filling and therefore when your file is complete and can be put for review. And which letters are you sure you want them to read? And why are adding a shadow letter unless a school requires it? They have little impact .

So you can submit all these letters but dont assume they all will be read/ evaluated or that they wont add confusion to the school as to what you are fulfilling. I suggest you do not assign any letter to any school until all your letters are in AMCAS so they can be assigned and sent as once
 
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AquaticSunrise13

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Hey this might seem like a stupid question and I'm pretty sure the answer is "it doesn't matter", but I just want to make sure since one of my letter writers brought it up. When submitting a letter of recommendation, it doesn't matter if the letterhead is in black and white right? It doesn't have to be in color right? The letter writer was asking me if this matters since they're out of color. Thanks
 

gonnif

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Hey this might seem like a stupid question and I'm pretty sure the answer is "it doesn't matter", but I just want to make sure since one of my letter writers brought it up. When submitting a letter of recommendation, it doesn't matter if the letterhead is in black and white right? It doesn't have to be in color right? The letter writer was asking me if this matters since they're out of color. Thanks
doesnt matter. having Letterhead and signature on letter are important
 

Sagebrush

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Silly, neurotic question, since I just want to make sure I'm understanding the LOR and verification process correctly before I make a mistake!

After I submit for verification, I am still able to "create" a letter on AMCAS (open up AMCAS, click the "Add" button for LORs, enter all the information, assign the letter, etc), correct? Or once I submit for verification am I simply limited to assigning letters that have already been created?
 

BlueComet

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For non science letter, can I ask my supervisor at my old tutoring job in my old community college? I currently have 3 science letters, and 1 PI letter. Im having a bit of trouble with the non- science letter.
 

gonnif

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Silly, neurotic question, since I just want to make sure I'm understanding the LOR and verification process correctly before I make a mistake!

After I submit for verification, I am still able to "create" a letter on AMCAS (open up AMCAS, click the "Add" button for LORs, enter all the information, assign the letter, etc), correct? Or once I submit for verification am I simply limited to assigning letters that have already been created?
yes
 

gonnif

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For non science letter, can I ask my supervisor at my old tutoring job in my old community college? I currently have 3 science letters, and 1 PI letter. Im having a bit of trouble with the non- science letter.
Not all schools will see that as a non-science letter. It should be someone you actually took a class with
 

docgal101

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I have two strong letters from my organic chem and biochem professors, an MD letter from a physician i worked with for 2 years in the ER, and a joint letter from husband/wife DOs that I've worked with as well. Should i reach out to a non-science professor? I have one that i could potentially ask, but I haven't really kept up with him for the last few years. Is 4 letters from 2 science professors and 3 physicians enough?
 

gonnif

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I have two strong letters from my organic chem and biochem professors, an MD letter from a physician i worked with for 2 years in the ER, and a joint letter from husband/wife DOs that I've worked with as well. Should i reach out to a non-science professor? I have one that i could potentially ask, but I haven't really kept up with him for the last few years. Is 4 letters from 2 science professors and 3 physicians enough?
yes! Some schools require it!!!!!
 
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Boola Boy

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@gonnif

Just want to double check.

If my school is writing a committee letter, I basically don't need to send individual letters. On my AMCAS, I simply assign the committee letter to each school.
 

AquaticSunrise13

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If you submit 2 letters to AMCAS via Interfolio from the same writer and with the same letter ID, AMCAS can see which letter is the more recent one and can pick that 1 when sending out your letters right? Or at least you'll be able to pick which of the two you want to send to the schools, or how does it work? Interfolio told me that AMCAS can see exactly what deliveries you send through your interfolio account and that they both come in and they can see which is more recent and they can pick the more recent one, but I want to confirm this with someone who may know.

I'm asking/had to send 2 letters from the same letter writer with the same letter ID because the first letter didn't have a signature but the 2nd letter (since I informed the writer) now has a signature, so I'm wondering how it works.

Thanks
 

gonnif

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If you submit 2 letters to AMCAS via Interfolio from the same writer and with the same letter ID, AMCAS can see which letter is the more recent one and can pick that 1 when sending out your letters right? Or at least you'll be able to pick which of the two you want to send to the schools, or how does it work? Interfolio told me that AMCAS can see exactly what deliveries you send through your interfolio account and that they both come in and they can see which is more recent and they can pick the more recent one, but I want to confirm this with someone who may know.

I'm asking/had to send 2 letters from the same letter writer with the same letter ID because the first letter didn't have a signature but the 2nd letter (since I informed the writer) now has a signature, so I'm wondering how it works.

Thanks
Both letters will be sent
 

AquaticSunrise13

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Both letters will be sent
So you mean when you try to assign a letter to a school, you can't choose which of the two (no signature letter vs signature letter) to send?

If so, do you recommend deleting the letter entry in AMCAS, recreating it for the same writer and then resending the correct letter via Interfolio that way there's only 1 letter there, OR do you think the folks at AMCAS/med school adcom members will know to pick the more recent one?
 

gonnif

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So you mean when you try to assign a letter to a school, you can't choose which of the two (no signature letter vs signature letter) to send?

If so, do you recommend deleting the letter entry in AMCAS, recreating it for the same writer and then resending the correct letter via Interfolio that way there's only 1 letter there, OR do you think the folks at AMCAS/med school adcom members will know to pick the more recent one?
Does interfolio have two letter entries? if so then you can choose which one gets sent to AMCAS
 

AquaticSunrise13

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Does interfolio have two letter entries? if so then you can choose which one gets sent to AMCAS
No, they dont. The professor who wrote and submitted the letter to Interfolio simply swapped the letter w/out the signature to the one w/the signature, but the problem is I had already sent the one without the signature to AMCAS prior to the quality check being fully done by interfolio. THEN, I sent the more updated letter with the signature on it to AMCAS after the quality check the 2nd time around.

So in summary, AMCAS just received the first letter w/out the signature today, and will be receiving the one WITH the signature probably by Monday.
 

gonnif

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No, they dont. The professor who wrote and submitted the letter to Interfolio simply swapped the letter w/out the signature to the one w/the signature, but the problem is I had already sent the one without the signature to AMCAS prior to the quality check being fully done by interfolio. THEN, I sent the more updated letter with the signature on it to AMCAS after the quality check the 2nd time around.

So in summary, AMCAS just received the first letter w/out the signature today, and will be receiving the one WITH the signature probably by Monday.
Then both letters will be sent to schools this wont be an issue
 

Boola Boy

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@gonnif

I heard back from my pre-medical committee that "individual letters are no longer included" in the committee letter. So it's basically just one letter. Does this mean that the committee letter supersedes the value of my individual letters?

I feel like I'm going to have to call up each school and ask them what other letters they need. The admissions committee will see the committee letter from my school, they'll tell me "Hey, we need these other letters, too", and then I'm logging back into my account to assign the individual letters that I could have just assigned in the first place.

Basically, I don't want to be in a position where I am sending my committee letters + my individual letters because technically, almost every school says that one committee letter is fine...but my undergraduate committee that is writing the letter is telling me that I should send the individual letters anyway. :confused:
 

gonnif

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@gonnif

I heard back from my pre-medical committee that "individual letters are no longer included" in the committee letter. So it's basically just one letter. Does this mean that the committee letter supersedes the value of my individual letters?

I feel like I'm going to have to call up each school and ask them what other letters they need. The admissions committee will see the committee letter from my school, they'll tell me "Hey, we need these other letters, too", and then I'm logging back into my account to assign the individual letters that I could have just assigned in the first place.

Basically, I don't want to be in a position where I am sending my committee letters + my individual letters because technically, almost every school says that one committee letter is fine...but my undergraduate committee that is writing the letter is telling me that I should send the individual letters anyway. :confused:
Lets clear this up since applicants confuse it all the time: You follow one of the following

If you are using a committee letter, the requirements are set by the undergraduate institution
OR
If you are sending in individual letters, the requirements are set by each medical school

You do not need to follow the requirements for individual letters if you are using a committee letter. For a committee letter you follow the policy of your own undergraduate institution. While most UG Committees attach individual letters, there is no requirement that they do so. Also, if you are using a committee letter, in whatever form they send, there is no requirement that you somehow must fulfill the individual letter requirements. Because of the increase in applications and the increase workload it puts on adcoms, some medical school are becoming strict on the number of letters. So if you application has a committee letter, the medical school may say that fulfills the requirement and will not read any additional letters, though in your case I would send them anyway. I would also let your premed committee know that their process puts their applicants at a disadvantage as most committee's attach all letters to their evaluation.
 
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May 31, 2018
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I had some pretty extensive research experience with a parent, who is a PI at a university. Would it be unwise to send a recommendation letter from that parent? Some schools (e.g. Harvard) explicitly request letters from all research PIs, so I was thinking I could at least send in a rec letter from my parent to those schools -- is that a good idea? Not sure what I would do with the other schools that don't explicitly request a rec letter from all PIs.
 
May 31, 2018
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Sorry one more question -
I'm sending in a committee letter, and I also have an additional letter from an extracurricular activity that I spent a lot of time on and had leadership experience with; I think that letter would serve as a good character/non-academic reference. If a school doesn't explicitly ask for such a letter (i.e. extracurricular activity/character reference), should I still send in that additional letter? For example, some schools only ask for letters from professors and research supervisors, but they don't necessarily say whether or not to send in other letters. Should I send in the extracurricular letter in that case?
 

gonnif

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I had some pretty extensive research experience with a parent, who is a PI at a university. Would it be unwise to send a recommendation letter from that parent? Some schools (e.g. Harvard) explicitly request letters from all research PIs, so I was thinking I could at least send in a rec letter from my parent to those schools -- is that a good idea? Not sure what I would do with the other schools that don't explicitly request a rec letter from all PIs.
If you have had an indepth professional relationship with a relative who has the credentials and experience to evaluate you critically, then a letter would be ok. My opinion would be that a) they make mention of the relationship in the opening paragraph and b) they show an effort to be unbiased. For the latter, they could state and show that they are following the AAMC LOR writers guideline to be unbiased as possible
 
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gonnif

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Sorry one more question -
I'm sending in a committee letter, and I also have an additional letter from an extracurricular activity that I spent a lot of time on and had leadership experience with; I think that letter would serve as a good character/non-academic reference. If a school doesn't explicitly ask for such a letter (i.e. extracurricular activity/character reference), should I still send in that additional letter? For example, some schools only ask for letters from professors and research supervisors, but they don't necessarily say whether or not to send in other letters. Should I send in the extracurricular letter in that case?
A committee letter is usually all a school asks for to fulfill the requirement.
 
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A committee letter is usually all a school asks for to fulfill the requirement.
I know I can fulfill the requirement with the committee letter, but I was wondering if I could attach an additional letter that would help in my candidacy. In other words, would it be harmful to attach that additional letter if a school doesn't explicitly request it?
 

gonnif

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I know I can fulfill the requirement with the committee letter, but I was wondering if I could attach an additional letter that would help in my candidacy. In other words, would it be harmful to attach that additional letter if a school doesn't explicitly request it?
probably not harmful
 
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Higgina3

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I am an undergrad applying to medical schools this summer, and I have worked in two different research labs (EEG; eating disorders/suicidality) over the past couple of years, and I wanted to have two letters to detail my respective experiences. Both of these labs are headed by a professor (that is writing a letter), as well as a grad student that I am directly working with (who is also willing to write a letter). Thus, I would like to have 2 LORs with a professor and grad student in each. 1) Does this make sense? 2) If yes, how should/can the letters be written (joint letter, separate letter, having a cover letter prefacing that the letter has two people's perspectives)? Should this type of letter be labeled as a "letter packet"? It should have a letterhead and be co-signed, yes? And to make sure: each of these letters would only count as 1 letter sent to a school, yes? I couldn't find this kind of situation in the forums before, so I thought I'd ask here.
 
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gonnif

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I am an undergrad applying to medical schools this summer, and I have worked in two different research labs (EEG; eating disorders/suicidality) over the past couple of years, and I wanted to have two letters to detail my respective experiences. Both of these labs are headed by a professor (that is writing a letter), as well as a grad student that I am directly working with (who is also willing to write a letter). Thus, I would like to have 2 LORs with a professor and grad student in each. 1) Does this make sense? 2) If yes, how should/can the letters be written (joint letter, separate letter, having a cover letter prefacing that the letter has two people's perspectives)? Should this type of letter be labeled as a "letter packet"? It should have a letterhead and be co-signed, yes? And to make sure: each of these letters would only count as 1 letter sent to a school, yes? I couldn't find this kind of situation in the forums before, so I thought I'd ask here.
You couldnt find this? you didnt look very hard.

Do you want
A) the graduate student to write the letter and the professor cosign it?
B) Or do you want both the grad student to write a part and sign it, and the professor sign part of it?
C) Or do you want the professor to write, adding comments such as "my graduate student who works on a daily basis with him states...."
The correct answer is C. Letterhead and signature
This is NOT a letter packet; that is what a premed advisor or premed committee does
 
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Higgina3

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You couldnt find this? you didnt look very hard.

Do you want
A) the graduate student to write the letter and the professor cosign it?
B) Or do you want both the grad student to write a part and sign it, and the professor sign part of it?
C) Or do you want the professor to write, adding comments such as "my graduate student who works on a daily basis with him states...."
The correct answer is C. Letterhead and signature
This is NOT a letter packet; that is what a premed advisor or premed committee does
Thanks for the reply. I've searched several threads regarding joint letters and I couldn't find anything similar to my situation/how to classify my letter (and couldn't find anything in the AMCAS guide). I was looking for something between B and C - both of them to share their perspectives in the letter and to co-sign. But you are saying for the professor to write it and quote comments from the graduate student? Should only the professor sign it? And should this be marked as an individual letter then?
Again, many thanks for your help.
 

gonnif

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Thanks for the reply. I've searched several threads regarding joint letters and I couldn't find anything similar to my situation/how to classify my letter (and couldn't find anything in the AMCAS guide). I was looking for something between B and C - both of them to share their perspectives in the letter and to co-sign. But you are saying for the professor to write it and quote comments from the graduate student? Should only the professor sign it? And should this be marked as an individual letter then?
Again, many thanks for your help.
There isnt anything between B and C. C is the correct answer. The professor write it including info from his/her grad student
 
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Higgina3

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There isnt anything between B and C. C is the correct answer. The professor write it including info from his/her grad student
Understood. And to confirm, only the professor signs it, and it's an individual letter?
 

CAFFEINE!

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Does anybody know how long it takes for AMCAS to receive LORs from Interfolio? I sent mine 2 weeks ago, and AMCAS is still saying they are not received.
 

gouldie

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I have a conundrum regarding committee letters:

I had mine prepared for the 2018 cycle, and it included 6 letters: one science professor, one summer research PI at another university, two non-science professors (I was a theater major), an EMT course instructor I worked closely with, and a former boss from a camp I worked at. All should be very strong. I then chose to not apply that cycle, as I obtained a job that I would need to commit two years to.

For the 2019 cycle, my health committee just updated the letter they had prepared from the last year, with all the same letters included in the packet.

I have two questions: noting that my committee letter only has one science professor letter, and an undergraduate research PI (at a different college), should I send in an additional letter as an individual from a science professor? I have one lined up with a professor I took multiple courses with who agreed to write a very strong letter.

Also, should I include a letter from my new PI at my current job? He is a big name and could also write a strong letter. My health committee will not let me add any additional letters, so they would have to be individual letters. Thank you in advance for your help!!
 
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I apologize in advance since similar questions have been asked already, but I am still confused on the topic of 2 science/1 non-science requirements. My undergrad has a committee and I am receiving a letter from them, however they also require that individual recs be submitted. I asked way back in November, and they said that they have no requirements for the types of letters submitted besides that at least 2 must be science-related, and that it is okay for me to not have a non-science letter. I therefore have 2 science professor LORs, a PI, and a clinical position supervisor writing on my behalf. My question is - is this considered a "committee letter packet" or will I be at a disadvantage at schools that say they require a committee letter OR 2 science + 1 non-science recs. Thank you.
 
Jun 7, 2018
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Hi, my school still writes a committee letter but no longer attaches other letters to it. I have my 2 sci and 1 non-sci professor ones taken care of, but also have 4 PI letters, 1 from my current job of 2 years, and 3 from the year+ long research I did in the summers/school year when I was in college. Is it bad to send all 4 PI letters if my research experiences were quite significant? I don't want to inundate adcoms and have it negatively affect my app, but I feel that those letters speak more personally about me and my capabilities so I'm hesitant to cut them.
 

Boola Boy

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I submitted my applications and assigned my letters to respective schools BEFORE the letters were uploaded to AMCAS via interfolio.

Ie. submitted on 06/04
committee letter uploaded to AMCAS on 06/14

Do I need to resubmit my application in this scenario?
 

chaim123

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I have a conundrum regarding committee letters:

I had mine prepared for the 2018 cycle, and it included 6 letters: one science professor, one summer research PI at another university, two non-science professors (I was a theater major), an EMT course instructor I worked closely with, and a former boss from a camp I worked at. All should be very strong. I then chose to not apply that cycle, as I obtained a job that I would need to commit two years to.

For the 2019 cycle, my health committee just updated the letter they had prepared from the last year, with all the same letters included in the packet.

I have two questions: noting that my committee letter only has one science professor letter, and an undergraduate research PI (at a different college), should I send in an additional letter as an individual from a science professor? I have one lined up with a professor I took multiple courses with who agreed to write a very strong letter.

Also, should I include a letter from my new PI at my current job? He is a big name and could also write a strong letter. My health committee will not let me add any additional letters, so they would have to be individual letters. Thank you in advance for your help!!
Schools usually require one of two things. Either a committee letter OR individual letters that meet their specific requirements. If you have a committee letter, that's all you need.
 

chaim123

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I apologize in advance since similar questions have been asked already, but I am still confused on the topic of 2 science/1 non-science requirements. My undergrad has a committee and I am receiving a letter from them, however they also require that individual recs be submitted. I asked way back in November, and they said that they have no requirements for the types of letters submitted besides that at least 2 must be science-related, and that it is okay for me to not have a non-science letter. I therefore have 2 science professor LORs, a PI, and a clinical position supervisor writing on my behalf. My question is - is this considered a "committee letter packet" or will I be at a disadvantage at schools that say they require a committee letter OR 2 science + 1 non-science recs. Thank you.
The bolded answers your question. You are submitted a committee letter, and so individual requirements do not apply to you.
 

chaim123

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Hi, my school still writes a committee letter but no longer attaches other letters to it. I have my 2 sci and 1 non-sci professor ones taken care of, but also have 4 PI letters, 1 from my current job of 2 years, and 3 from the year+ long research I did in the summers/school year when I was in college. Is it bad to send all 4 PI letters if my research experiences were quite significant? I don't want to inundate adcoms and have it negatively affect my app, but I feel that those letters speak more personally about me and my capabilities so I'm hesitant to cut them.
Medical schools will require either a committee letter OR individual letters that meet specific requirements. If you're fulfilling the committee letter requirement, no additional letters are required, and may not even be read.

Furthermore, 4 PI letters is too much. They'll never read them all.
 

chaim123

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I submitted my applications and assigned my letters to respective schools BEFORE the letters were uploaded to AMCAS via interfolio.

Ie. submitted on 06/04
committee letter uploaded to AMCAS on 06/14

Do I need to resubmit my application in this scenario?
No, you won't.
 
Jun 7, 2018
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Medical schools will require either a committee letter OR individual letters that meet specific requirements. If you're fulfilling the committee letter requirement, no additional letters are required, and may not even be read.

Furthermore, 4 PI letters is too much. They'll never read them all.
Well, I know that Univ. Pittsburgh SOM says that the committee letter should be buttressed with individual letters. My undergrad career office used to do the it the letter packet way but now just writes a cover letter and allows students to assign whatever other letters we want to tailor sets to schools. So it sounds like I'll need to send both from AMCAS to them at least.

And since UPSOM says that supplemental recommendations from the supervisors or peers of extracurricular activities or work positions are encouraged as well, I'm wondering how to prioritize the PI letters I have. As a non-trad applicant, I have a lot of prior long-term research experience.
 

chaim123

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Well, I know that Univ. Pittsburgh SOM says that the committee letter should be buttressed with individual letters. My undergrad career office used to do the it the letter packet way but now just writes a cover letter and allows students to assign whatever other letters we want to tailor sets to schools. So it sounds like I'll need to send both from AMCAS to them at least.

And since UPSOM says that supplemental recommendations from the supervisors or peers of extracurricular activities or work positions are encouraged as well, I'm wondering how to prioritize the PI letters I have. As a non-trad applicant, I have a lot of prior long-term research experience.
Well if a school specifically wants supplemental letters that is their prerogative, and you should feel free to follow their guidelines for that. However, I still stand by my original statement that committee+3 +4 is way too many letters.

I'm not sure I quite understand your schools process, but UPSOM says that the three letters in the packet should be from professors or supervisors, so perhaps put a PI letter in with your committee packet?
 
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Well if a school specifically wants supplemental letters that is their prerogative, and you should feel free to follow their guidelines for that. However, I still stand by my original statement that committee+3 +4 is way too many letters.

I'm not sure I quite understand your schools process, but UPSOM says that the three letters in the packet should be from professors or supervisors, so perhaps put a PI letter in with your committee packet?
Thanks chaim. So the issue is that my school's former committee packet now has changed to being just a stand alone letter from the committee. So it's a single letter uploaded to AMCAS and I coordinate my own additional faculty/PI letters. I figure since med schools know that Yale provides a committee letter, I have to use it, even though I feel that I have PI letters that are perhaps stronger. I guess I can try to use 1 sci, 1 nonsci, and 1 PI + an extra PI if the school allows?
 

chaim123

Almost an MD
Moderator
2+ Year Member
Dec 24, 2016
959
1,254
Status
Medical Student
Thanks chaim. So the issue is that my school's former committee packet now has changed to being just a stand alone letter from the committee. So it's a single letter uploaded to AMCAS and I coordinate my own additional faculty/PI letters. I figure since med schools know that Yale provides a committee letter, I have to use it, even though I feel that I have PI letters that are perhaps stronger. I guess I can try to use 1 sci, 1 nonsci, and 1 PI + an extra PI if the school allows?
Since UPSOM specifically requests supplemental letters with the committee letter, and Yale only sends the committee letter itself, then to that school you could add the 2sci + 1 nonsci +1PI, since that is standard individual letters.

However, for other schools that take a committee letter, and that fulfills their requirements, sending 2sci + 1 nonsci + 1PI may be too many additional letters. I'd pick the one or two that you think are most important, but they may not even be read.
 
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