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Questionable LOR

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by brianmartin, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. brianmartin

    brianmartin 10+ Year Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Yakima, WA
    I'm looking for some advice on LOR's.

    I'm applying in the 08 cycle and I'm just starting to get letters together.

    I have other good academic letters, but I felt like I needed something different, and now I am debating whether I made the right choice. I took a philosophy class called practical epistemology, where some of the course material was related to medicine, medical ethics, and decision-making. I felt that the material was great and helped make me a better critical thinker. However, I don't know the professor outside of the class. I decided to ask for a letter.

    So I met with him yesterday to discuss my plans. We talked about all the standard stuff, like why I want to be a doctor and everything. I also told him how I thought his course was a good thing for a future physician, as it is heavy on critical thinking ability. He said he would write the letter, but he also expressed reservations about not knowing me personally. I told him that he doesn't have to mention that in the letter, just say I was a good student, participated in discussions (which I did), and will make a good doctor because I got a lot out of his course.

    He still kept going back to the "I don't know you" I had to think of something to say. I told him, "Look, the only people I really know are my family and my best friends. I'm asking for a letter because I'm applying to medical school, and because I liked your class and I really got something out of it. I participated in every discussion during class, and involved myself in the material. That's worth something, isn't it?"

    To this he said, "OK, I'll see what I can do for you. Maybe we can meet up again and talk some more about your plans." He seemed pretty willing to work with me, but also seemed to think that the letter wouldn't be "good enough" for med school.

    Do you think I can trust this guy to write me a good letter? He is kind of a crazed philosopher type guy, very idiosyncratic...and I can't tell what he is thinking. Maybe this is a situation where I need to actively help him write the letter? Or should I just cancel the whole thing?
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  3. TheAmazingGOB

    TheAmazingGOB It ain't easy bein' white 5+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    I wouldn't use it. Professors can sometimes have a hard time saying "no" to students who want letters of recommendation so they say they are too busy or they don't feel they know you well enough (your case). It sounds like you kind of had to convince him to write the letter for you. If you have other options, I would defiantely go for them, this professor sounds kind of wishy-washy (and you never know with philosophy types). Try another non-science professor and see what their reaction is. He probably won't say anything negative about you in the letter, but a so-so letter isn't very helpful either especially when other applicants have solid letters.
  4. mvenus929

    mvenus929 Physician 10+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2006
    I wouldn't use it just because you basically told him what you want him to say in the letter. I'd be too afraid that he'd back out on you. Go with a different writer, or spend time getting to know him. It's not that hard to get to know professors, just visit them during office hours and find something to talk about.
  5. pennybridge

    pennybridge Banned Banned

    Oct 13, 2006
    yeah big red flag there. You want your letters coming from people who are excited about writing them for you. I know this isn't always possible, but try and get as close as you can. bottom line is if you have to twist the guy's arm to do it, it's not going to be fantastic.
  6. OncDoc19

    OncDoc19 MS4 7+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2007
    I would never take a letter from a professor who wasn't enthusiastic about writing it for me. You can't tell him what to write, if he wants some help, he will ask. I would really find someone else. If you really wanted this guy to write a letter for you, you should have made an effort to get to know him outside of class. Even if he does't write a bad letter, his letter will no doubt be mediocre, and by that I mean a letter where all that is expressed by the writer could have been learned by reading the rest of your application.
  7. TheGreatHunt

    TheGreatHunt High Performance 7+ Year Member

    Jan 5, 2007
    Two words:

  8. AnEyeLikeMars

    AnEyeLikeMars Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Carrboro, NC
    I can. He has reservations about writing you a letter because he doesn't feel like he knows you well enough to support your application (or this is a euphemism for 'I don't want to write you a letter,' but I don't feel that's the case). It sounds like he just couldn't say "no" outright. You should seriously consider looking elsewhere. You're not going to get a good letter from this guy.

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