Seedars

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How important is it to have the sponsorship of your school's pre-health committee? What is the impact if you apply to amcas/med school directly? Has anyone here ever done that or know about it?

Some context for the issue:
I graduated in 2001 from college and while I have a degree in Biology I was not pre-med at the time (was trying to be a children's health social worker) and so connecting with most of my science profs was not a priority. Since that time I have decided to apply to med school and have been working on completing my pre-reqs (orgo and physics). Now I know most folks enter into post-bac programs to do this, but with my work I neither had the time nor the money (most of them programs cost as much as getting your BA!) and so I've done the pre-req work piecemeal and will be applying this June for class of 2010. In order to get sponsorship from my school's pre-health committee I'm required to submit 2 LOR's from BCPM profs from the school. I have one that is a strong letter and I can probably get another one that will be at best generic, if not pure dribble.

So the situation is do I get the crap letter of rec (and potentially weaken my application packet) just so I can get the "stamp of approval" letter from my school's pre-health committee or gather all the strong letters I am going to receive and apply directly.

Any feedback would be appreciated!

Thanks!
 

NontradICUdoc

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Seedars said:
How important is it to have the sponsorship of your school's pre-health committee? What is the impact if you apply to amcas/med school directly? Has anyone here ever done that or know about it?

Some context for the issue:
I graduated in 2001 from college and while I have a degree in Biology I was not pre-med at the time (was trying to be a children's health social worker) and so connecting with most of my science profs was not a priority. Since that time I have decided to apply to med school and have been working on completing my pre-reqs (orgo and physics). Now I know most folks enter into post-bac programs to do this, but with my work I neither had the time nor the money (most of them programs cost as much as getting your BA!) and so I've done the pre-req work piecemeal and will be applying this June for class of 2010. In order to get sponsorship from my school's pre-health committee I'm required to submit 2 LOR's from BCPM profs from the school. I have one that is a strong letter and I can probably get another one that will be at best generic, if not pure dribble.

So the situation is do I get the crap letter of rec (and potentially weaken my application packet) just so I can get the "stamp of approval" letter from my school's pre-health committee or gather all the strong letters I am going to receive and apply directly.

Any feedback would be appreciated!

Thanks!

Call one of the schools and set up a meeting with their admissions people and see what they say and what they suggest. Do not be afraid to approach the schools. It is better to get the information from the horse's mouth.
 

Law2Doc

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Seedars said:
How important is it to have the sponsorship of your school's pre-health committee? What is the impact if you apply to amcas/med school directly? Has anyone here ever done that or know about it?

Some context for the issue:
I graduated in 2001 from college and while I have a degree in Biology I was not pre-med at the time (was trying to be a children's health social worker) and so connecting with most of my science profs was not a priority. Since that time I have decided to apply to med school and have been working on completing my pre-reqs (orgo and physics). Now I know most folks enter into post-bac programs to do this, but with my work I neither had the time nor the money (most of them programs cost as much as getting your BA!) and so I've done the pre-req work piecemeal and will be applying this June for class of 2010. In order to get sponsorship from my school's pre-health committee I'm required to submit 2 LOR's from BCPM profs from the school. I have one that is a strong letter and I can probably get another one that will be at best generic, if not pure dribble.

So the situation is do I get the crap letter of rec (and potentially weaken my application packet) just so I can get the "stamp of approval" letter from my school's pre-health committee or gather all the strong letters I am going to receive and apply directly.

Any feedback would be appreciated!

Thanks!
While generic LORs are not helpful, I would be concerned that if you apply to the same schools as others from your school who got the sponsorship letter, it might look questionable that they got "sponsored" while you didn't. Perhaps you should get the generic letter, but balance it out with an additional very strong letter or two (it's not unusual for nontraditionals to have more LORs than the usual applicant).
 

MWillie

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Get the generic letter. Not every letter has to be perfect and many schools require a letter from the committee if you have a committee. Better to not stick out.
 

lightnk102

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I was in the same situation. Also graduated 2001, was reluctant to get a generic letter from my premed committee (largely because I knew they wouldn't be particularly supportive). I ended up getting one anyways. It's a requirement at most medical schools that you use a committee if one is available, and if you choose NOT to use one, they require that you attach a document explaining why.

Send additional strong letters of rec (I sent one from the place I've been working since graduation, and also a few from some of my post-bacc science professors). These will speak for themselves for a few reasons:

a) they're from people who know you better than a committee
b) they'll be more recent than a committee letter from a school you attended 4 years ago.

Best of luck.
 

CarleneM

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My first approach would be to talk with your school's pre-med activity and explain the situation to see if they will accept BCPM letters from profs with other university affiliations. It is perfectly reasonable that your letters would come from people not affiliated with your college since you are a non-trad. At the very least, ask if they will accept 1 BCPM from your university (which you said would be decent) and get the other from elsewhere. Emphasize you want to have the strongest letters possible. Also, my school allows students to collect as many letters as they want and then select which ones they want included in their packet. So, you could get the lukewarm letter but request it not be sent and have the other strong ones sent instead or include an additional letter in the packet in addition to the lukewarm one.

If your pre-med committee will not work with you and go with any of the above suggestions, I would consider not using them. Many schools strongly suggest using them and require applicants who are not using them to submit a letter of explanation. You would certainly have a valid reason and the bottom line is that you want the strongest letters possible.
 
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Seedars

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Thanks for all the advice. I think I'm gonna bite the bullet and get the generic and support them with stronger letters from current contacts.

Now here's the other question....how to ask my prof from freshman bio to write the letter (we're talking 6 years ago, but at least I aced it!)?

Thanks again and any more ideas are welcomed!!!
 

BlueMagpie

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I also graduated in 2001 and ended up having to get a generic letter from my premed committee and got into med school with it. And as they were fairly unsupportive and didn't know me very well, I bet having the generic letter actually looked better than anything the committee could have written for me. So don't worry, it is definitely doable.

If you want to ask your old bio professor for an updated recommendation, I would e-mail him and set up a time to meet with him, bringing with you a current resume and revelant materials (I know it sounds ridiculous, but I've heard of people bringing old tests from the class to refresh their teacher's memory).
 

stinkycheese

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Just to add a different voice to this, I applied w/o my Committee because I felt that the politics involved in getting the "good" committee letter vs. the "bad" one were too much for me to want to deal with. I got into three schools so far, including one that requires an "explanation" of why one is using non-committee letters, and two that "strongly recommend" that you use the committee letter. I guess they liked me enough not to care. I am glad I did it this way-- my accomplishments were represented fairly and even though I may have lost a fair crack at several schools, I still got into three that I LOVE.
 

xanthines

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I agree! I graduted in 2000 and went without the committe letter. Of course my school doesn't actually generate a letter so much as a concise information sheet about you. I did fine and got into schools that I liked.

-X

stinkycheese said:
Just to add a different voice to this, I applied w/o my Committee because I felt that the politics involved in getting the "good" committee letter vs. the "bad" one were too much for me to want to deal with. I got into three schools so far, including one that requires an "explanation" of why one is using non-committee letters, and two that "strongly recommend" that you use the committee letter. I guess they liked me enough not to care. I am glad I did it this way-- my accomplishments were represented fairly and even though I may have lost a fair crack at several schools, I still got into three that I LOVE.
 
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Seedars

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stinkycheese said:
Just to add a different voice to this, I applied w/o my Committee because I felt that the politics involved in getting the "good" committee letter vs. the "bad" one were too much for me to want to deal with. I got into three schools so far, including one that requires an "explanation" of why one is using non-committee letters, and two that "strongly recommend" that you use the committee letter. I guess they liked me enough not to care. I am glad I did it this way-- my accomplishments were represented fairly and even though I may have lost a fair crack at several schools, I still got into three that I LOVE.
May I ask how strong your application was (MCAT score, GPA, & the like)?

Thanks!!
 

stinkycheese

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Seedars said:
May I ask how strong your application was (MCAT score, GPA, & the like)?

Thanks!!
I dont have a stellar app. Above average MCAT, below average GPA, good EC's and an assload of publications. Nothing special.