Query regarding Letter of Recommendation (Fall 2016 MPH International application)

Sep 7, 2015
41
13
Status
Dentist
So I just started up my SOPHAS application, and I have a couple of queries regarding the acquisition of LORs.


- I graduated from my university 3 years back. So it's been a while, and i'm trying to figure out which professors might remember me, and be kind enough to write me a LOR. Once i figure out which professors to ask, and send them an official request from the SOPHAS page, will i be able to read my LOR before submitting it to SOPHAS? Or is it directly submitted, without me being able to read it?

- It says i need 3 LORs at the minimum. Is it better if i submit, say 4 or 5? From what i can estimate, none of them is going to be stellar, as i was a pretty average student who most professors wouldn't remember a couple years after graduation. So is it better to take a chance and get 4 or 5 average LORs, rather than 3 average ones?

- Should i make sure that i specify to my professors that i'm applying to MPH programs? If i don't, they might assume that i'm applying to DDS, since i'm a Dentist. So will it affect how they write my LOR?

- I have been working as a Dentist. So do i need to submit LOR from my employer, for a program like MPH?


Any advice and help would be highly appreciated.
 
Last edited:

Pudu2009

Tiniest deer
2+ Year Member
Jan 6, 2015
363
205
Bay Area
Status
Non-Student
I would suggest getting two professional LORs, that way you know at least two will be strong. Then ask one professor that knows you the best, and ask him/her for a letter. SOPHAS gives you the option to waive your right to read letters, so if you want to read them, don't check the box. I waived my right; I don't know if it makes a difference. And definitely let your writers know everything: what program you're applying to, which schools you're applying to, and any information they may need to match the name with the face.

Hope this helps
 
Aug 25, 2015
57
57
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
- you need to submit 2 recommendations from college faculties. and the third can be from someone senior or supervisor in the work.
- max number is 5 recommendation.
- The recommender will evaluate you thoroughly, he will give grades on your abilities in specific subjects. so better to be sure that he will do you good help.
- No use of not putting the tick on the waiver of your rights to see the letter, because to be able to see it you have to go to the admission office of the university, SOPHAS will not make you able to see it anyway.
- Dentistry is a field that is certainly regarded as a public health-related field. so a letter from your senior will be alright.
 
OP
D
Sep 7, 2015
41
13
Status
Dentist
Quick question.

I'm sending an email to my professors to ask if they'll be willing to write me an LOR. Will they have to send the LOR via postal mail, or just submit it electronically [email etc.]? I'll have to include this information in my request email. Kindly note that i'm an International applicant, if it's relevant to my query.

Thanks in adavnce!
 

Pudu2009

Tiniest deer
2+ Year Member
Jan 6, 2015
363
205
Bay Area
Status
Non-Student
It should say on the program's website or on the application itself how they want letters to be sent to them. Some I had to mail in, others were electronic.
 
OP
D
Sep 7, 2015
41
13
Status
Dentist
It should say on the program's website or on the application itself how they want letters to be sent to them. Some I had to mail in, others were electronic.
Oh! I thought I only have to submit the LORs in my SOPHAS application. What if i haven't yet decided which all schools to apply to? Once the LORs have been submitted to SOPHAS, can they be then forwarded to the schools i select later on? Or do I need to inform my professor beforehand to send it separately?
Good lord, this whole application process is such a headache.
 

Pudu2009

Tiniest deer
2+ Year Member
Jan 6, 2015
363
205
Bay Area
Status
Non-Student
SOPHAS gets your letters separately. Then, as a you designate more schools, they will be able to see all of your letters via SOPHAS. You do not have to send extra copies to the schools themselves. Refer to the FAQ page regarding LORs on the SOPHAS website, as it has been a while since I applied and do not remember the details. Keep in mind that some schools have letter preferences; some want at least two academic references while others don't care.

For schools that do not use the SOPHAS application, they will let you know on the application how they want your letters sent.
 
Feb 25, 2014
45
11
You should check with specific schools you're interested in about the ideal mix of work contacts/former instructors to write your LORs. When I applied I had been out of school for four years, my work was relevant to public health, and my BA wasn't, so I used all PIs that I had worked for and published with. I got confirmation from the schools I cared about the most that this would be OK to do. SOPHAS will host some online fairs where you could ask, or just email school admissions contacts.

IMO there's not much point in just adding more LORs if you know they'll all be average. Only consider people whose connection has some relevance to your education or career, and then pick the 2-3 you would guess will think the most highly of you. Work experience counts for a lot in public health, so I would definitely include someone with a DDS who supervised or mentored you. You won't get to read these LORs before submitting them, that is not the point of a LOR. You would have to not waive your right to see them and then go get them from the school later. Most people don't do this. If you don't feel confident in how the writer would portray you, just don't ask them. If you're not sure, ask them if they would feel comfortable writing you a strong letter of rec. Most normal people will find a way to decline if they couldn't honestly write positive stuff about you.

Always give your recommenders plenty of information to help them write a LOR. I would say at a minimum you should give them your current CV and any submission information they will need to make the process easy for them since they are doing you a favor. I like to also write a couple of paragraphs briefly explaining what I'm applying for and why.

Like most materials, once LORs are uploaded to SOPHAS you can select additional schools to send them to. A few schools will also want LORs submitted directly to them, but IME it's not common. If any of your schools will want that, let your recommenders know and give them that submission up front.
 
OP
D
Sep 7, 2015
41
13
Status
Dentist
Thanks for the help, guys.

@Pudu2009 , one of my professors said that he's busy and asked me to draft the LOR how I would like it, and send it to him. He'll then edit it how he wants to.
The thing is I have no idea how to write one. If I google it, then schools might detect that it isn't original via their software. So that won't be of any use at all. Writing positive things about myself feels weird too.
Any advice?
 

Pudu2009

Tiniest deer
2+ Year Member
Jan 6, 2015
363
205
Bay Area
Status
Non-Student
Oh dear, I'm not sure of this one either since I never had to draft my own letter. I'm pretty sure my letter writers had a draft already made up and were just waiting for me to ask them. Googling samples might help, although your professor will be editing it, so it would probably look completely different by the time it is submitted. I also have a hard time writing positive things about myself.

Would it be possible to get a letter from someone else, either from another professor or from a professional? It just seems a little fishy to me that he would ask you to write the letter, since it's very impersonal. It's almost as if he does not think he can write you a good letter, or he is too lazy to put in the effort to write good things about you. My brother had that problem when applying to private schools and he ended up not even asking that teacher for an LoR, just because he was miffed that a teacher whom he had worked side-by-side with for two years could not take one hour to sit down and write a letter from the heart. And this was in high school, so his teacher had no "I was too busy with my research" excuse. I just feel like your letters would stand out more if they were written from the heart rather than from you.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DrDumbledore
OP
D
Sep 7, 2015
41
13
Status
Dentist
Oh dear, I'm not sure of this one either since I never had to draft my own letter. I'm pretty sure my letter writers had a draft already made up and were just waiting for me to ask them. Googling samples might help, although your professor will be editing it, so it would probably look completely different by the time it is submitted. I also have a hard time writing positive things about myself.

Would it be possible to get a letter from someone else, either from another professor or from a professional? It just seems a little fishy to me that he would ask you to write the letter, since it's very impersonal. It's almost as if he does not think he can write you a good letter, or he is too lazy to put in the effort to write good things about you. My brother had that problem when applying to private schools and he ended up not even asking that teacher for an LoR, just because he was miffed that a teacher whom he had worked side-by-side with for two years could not take one hour to sit down and write a letter from the heart. And this was in high school, so his teacher had no "I was too busy with my research" excuse. I just feel like your letters would stand out more if they were written from the heart rather than from you.
You have raised very valid points.
Actually this professor is the Head of Department, and i know it for a fact that his schedule remains very busy with teaching undergrads, treating patients in the hospital, and overlooking postgrads too. He does remember me personally as well, but you may be right that he probably doesn't think it's worth the effort to draft me a personal letter.
I'm in a position where i can't turn him down now, as I have already said ok to his proposal. My only hope is to draft the letter myself, and hope he'll at least put in the effort to personalize it. :(
 
Feb 25, 2014
45
11
Asking people to write a first draft LOR is apparently not that uncommon (at least on these boards where people share their problems!), and I'm not sure why since I've never seen anyone argue that it's 100% appropriate.

One year this happened to both me and a friend who were applying to programs. We both just responded and said we weren't really comfortable with that. We provided a lot of information to our recommenders to help them understand what types of programs we were applying to and what our strengths were related to that. My recommender just said OK and wrote it herself (and it was apparently good since I got in almost everywhere and still do freelance work for her); my friend's recommender didn't want to write it from scratch himself so my friend declined and found someone else with no trouble.

IMO it's not acceptable to ask people to write their own LOR, especially as an alternative to just saying no. I don't have a problem with my colleague because I know English isn't her first language and she wasn't super familiar with my field, and she took no for an answer. I definitely give side eye to my friend's non-recommender and think she dodged a bullet.

ETA: I think the best way to get out of this with well-meaning people is just to offer them as much information as you can about you and your programs. If you can give them a draft of your statement of purpose, or something shorter and more tailored that describes your goals, types of programs you're looking at, and what these programs look for, that can still help a recommender a lot if they are just busy or feeling like they don't know enough to help.
 
OP
D
Sep 7, 2015
41
13
Status
Dentist
Asking people to write a first draft LOR is apparently not that uncommon (at least on these boards where people share their problems!), and I'm not sure why since I've never seen anyone argue that it's 100% appropriate.

One year this happened to both me and a friend who were applying to programs. We both just responded and said we weren't really comfortable with that. We provided a lot of information to our recommenders to help them understand what types of programs we were applying to and what our strengths were related to that. My recommender just said OK and wrote it herself (and it was apparently good since I got in almost everywhere and still do freelance work for her); my friend's recommender didn't want to write it from scratch himself so my friend declined and found someone else with no trouble.

IMO it's not acceptable to ask people to write their own LOR, especially as an alternative to just saying no. I don't have a problem with my colleague because I know English isn't her first language and she wasn't super familiar with my field, and she took no for an answer. I definitely give side eye to my friend's non-recommender and think she dodged a bullet.

ETA: I think the best way to get out of this with well-meaning people is just to offer them as much information as you can about you and your programs. If you can give them a draft of your statement of purpose, or something shorter and more tailored that describes your goals, types of programs you're looking at, and what these programs look for, that can still help a recommender a lot if they are just busy or feeling like they don't know enough to help.
Thanks! If I'm not able to write a draft myself, I'll try your approach. I'll provide him with a draft of my SOP and my strengths etc. to help him write me a recommendation. Maybe he'll completely decline, maybe he'll get on board.