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Reapplication Etiquette

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moosenanny

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I know this is jumping the gun a bit because I have three of my four schools yet to hear from (including my top choice) . . . but while it's on my mind I figured I'd ask for your wonderful advice (particularly from now-accepted second and third time applicants):

When reapplying in future cycles, is it okay to re-use personal statement essays, supplemental essays, and/or letters of recommendation? Should any of these application elements be altered slightly? Or is a complete overhaul required?

Of course I have no idea what is precisely in my letters of recommendation (although I have a general sense that they advocate for me strongly). Will their "quality" be addressed specifically in post-mortem appointments? Is it okay to re-use all of them, some of them, or none of them in future application cycles?

And I really love my personal statement; I worked on it for about 1.5 years, with many drafts and edits. I'd hate to have to edit it once more because I'm so attached to how it finally turned out, especially since my experiences won't have changed drastically between one cycle and the next. However, I don't want to seem lazy and for admissions committees to remember me and think, "Gosh, she didn't put in any additional effort from her previous application."

Anyway, for SDN'ers who have applied multiple times and were rewarded for your diligence, I'd love some insight on what you did regarding this "reapplication etiquette" and how it worked out for you.

Thanks in advance, and good luck to everyone :luck:. Hopefully we won't need this advice, but I think it would be valuable nonetheless . . .
 

lunajett

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I'm not qualified to address all your questions - I'm on my second try, haven't yet been accepted. But I'll give you a few of my thoughts.

LOR's - I think it is important to know what was said about you, and in my experience most "recommenders" have offered a copy of their recommendation for me to review/edit, and if not it's fair to ask for a copy for your records. If they're not comfortable they'll just say no. My post-mortems last year gave me good insight on how my LOR were received, and turns out the one I did NOT get a copy of or review, I really should have. It was from my upper-division biochem prof who didn't really know me that well, and apparently he thought I'd be a great candidate for dental school! This, despite the fact I gave him copy of my resume, personal statement, etc. I assume he just had some generic LOR, and he didn't proof it carefully for my version, but needless to say that LOR didn't help me at all!

But even if you think you have great LORs the first time, if you keep getting more experience and broadening yourself, you might be surprised how much better your next round of LORs could be. This time, I had four great LOR from DVMs, plus a great work reference from my previous 15 year career, and an academic.

Personal statement: I felt kinda the same way, I spent a ton of time on it and felt it was fantastic my first time. And reviewers did actually rave about it in my post-mortems - one actually said she wished she could black out my name and use it as an example for other applicants. So I didn't really plan on changing it much. But again, with a year more experience and working closely with some great DVMs who were willing to review it and give me input, I was able to refine it and make it even better. So while last years was great, I opened myself up to changing it and I'm confident it will help me even more.

With the hundreds of essays committemembers read, I seriouly doubt any of them will be remembering what you wrote from one year to the next, or that they will go back and compare your essays side by side. I would however expect they would look at simple numbers - like hours of experience - to see if you have been continuing to grow. I don't think you should expect that "you won't change much" from one application to the next, and you shouldn't look at revising and improving your application as a chore, even if you thought it was great the last time. Each time you apply is another chance to prove yourself worthy and rise above the competition. You should be eager to make that effort.

So I guess my point is, no matter how great you think your previous application was, you can always make it better. And if you're doing what you should be doing between cycles - gaining more experience, maturing, broadening your education, working with more DVM's, etc. - there will be a lot more you can add next time to make yourself a stronger applicant.
 

Wolphcats

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I too feel I am not qualified to answer this question, even though I am on my third time applying. I only speak from experience. Take my advice with a grain of salt; my experience and yours might be completely different. I have always felt weary of re-using my personal statement for the same reason as you fear. What if someone does remember your essay, hopefully it is that memorable. They might be the deciding vote, and might think poorly on you for not changing your essay. I spoke with the interm-dean of admissions at UF after one of my failed attempts about this issue. He suggested rewriting the essay, saying that there wasn't anything wrong with it, but there is much more that can be written after an additional year's worth of experience. He suggested completely rewriting it, because he finds that people who just edit the essays don't change much. I look back at my three personal statements and see dramatic changes, even though the structure of the essay remained the same. I now hate my first essay, and love my latest.

My eLOR are an interesting thought, and might provide insight into your situation. I moved for grad school and changed jobs between applications. Thus the vets I knew at the new jobs didn't know me long enough in my opinion. So for the last three admissions cycles, I have stuck with my original three eLORers. Once again, I spoke to UF about this, they suggested to stick with the people who know me best (they cautioned me that they really do not like eLORers who have known you for less than 7 months). They will discuss your eLOR if you ask about them; they pretty much sit you down and ask if you have any questions.

Good luck on the remaining three school! :) And if you do not get in the first year don't let it end your dreams. Plenty of strongly qualified applicants are declined each year because of the limited number of spaces.
 

Minnerbelle

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LOR's - I think it is important to know what was said about you, and in my experience most "recommenders" have offered a copy of their recommendation for me to review/edit, and if not it's fair to ask for a copy for your records. If they're not comfortable they'll just say no. My post-mortems last year gave me good insight on how my LOR were received, and turns out the one I did NOT get a copy of or review, I really should have. It was from my upper-division biochem prof who didn't really know me that well, and apparently he thought I'd be a great candidate for dental school! This, despite the fact I gave him copy of my resume, personal statement, etc. I assume he just had some generic LOR, and he didn't proof it carefully for my version, but needless to say that LOR didn't help me at all!

Just a thought... Do you think it's really okay to ask to see your LOR if you waived your right to see them? I can see talking to your evaluators and being really frank with them for next round, saying "i'm really trying to improve every aspect of my application, and i just really want to know if you believe that your LOR was very strong. it's completely okay if you don't feel like you know me well enough or think highly enough of me to gloat about me in the LOR, but I would really like to know if I need to have someone else write it for me for my next round"

at that point, they at the very least owe you complete honesty. maybe at that point they'll voluntarily hand it over to you, and that's cool... but I don't know about asking directly about it. some evaluators don't care that you've waived and will feel comfortable showing, but some evaluators really take the waiver very seriously (for whatever ethical reason, not so much because they have anything to hide) and for them, asking directly might reflect poorly on you - esp if you want another letter from them next year!

i think that's why it's important to make it clear to your evaluators what type of evaluation you're looking for, and also to ask them if they feel comfortable writing you a *good* recommendation. i know that's hard to do, and being the weenie that i am... couldn't get myself to ask... but i didn't ask anyone to write me a LOR unless I had a very profound relationsihp with them and knew they were personally invested in promoting me to vet schools.
 

sumstorm

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I think you are getting great advice, and I did NOT reapply, but one caution on the PS. If your PS was very unique (ie you used a very unique experience to give your PS flavor/body/etc) it may stick in the minds of adcoms. I had a very bizarre experience a couple week ago when we visited a vet school I wasn't accepted into when someone said 'oh, your the elephant medic girl...what was that trip called?....' It was an adcom who had read my PS, and recognized my very odd name and put the two together. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean it should be totally rewritten, or the unique feature not included, just realize that it may have 'stuck' good or bad.

And, like alot of people said; if you are reapplying, you want to show how you have grown, developed, improved over the past year via your application. That may mean changing your PS, changing your LOR's ( I don't know if your LOR's would have to resubmit anyways), and otherwise updating your application. My impression of the application process is that it is never something as simple as 'applicant needs X more hours of Y experience' to get in, it is a lot more ephemeral than that. And the applicant pool will change as well, so you may be facing new challenges.

If you can get applicant reviews, do so. That will help guide you in how to improve and where to alter your application package.
 

sumstorm

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i think that's why it's important to make it clear to your evaluators what type of evaluation you're looking for, and also to ask them if they feel comfortable writing you a *good* recommendation. i know that's hard to do, and being the weenie that i am... couldn't get myself to ask... but i didn't ask anyone to write me a LOR unless I had a very profound relationsihp with them and knew they were personally invested in promoting me to vet schools.

Something else you can do is ask LOR's to site specific examples of particular strengths. I think that was important for me as a non-trad. I didn't need 3 LOR's that said 'she did this cool research, then went on a fellowship doing this other research project, then designed/ran X, etc.' There was so much material (from being out of school plus my academic experiences) that my LOR's who really knew me could draw on, that it was hard for them to pick key points to focus on....so I thought alot about what was the most valuable skill/trait I developed around them (hands on skills, communication, perseverance, dedication, perception, leadership, etc.) and when I asked them if they would write strong letters of recommendation and they agreed, I shared my strategy with them and asked if they would address specific traits and then wrote some brief reminders of occasions where I felt I had displayed those traits. Even if it didn't help them directly (which wasn't my intent) it did help refresh their memories of working with me. Whenever I have approached a LOR this way (whether for job recs or this sort of thing) he/she has appreciated it and told me it was very useful. It can be easy to push a 'less immediatly urgent' task like thinking and puzzling out what to write in a LOR till the last minute, and end up with a kind of fuzzy warm LOR without concrete details or a specific purpose.
 

katryn

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Reusing LOR's is certainly fine as long as the person/people you are asking still remember who you are. I reused two of my LOR's this year, but they are both people that I talk with on a regular basis even though I don't work with them anymore.

As far as the personal statement goes, I would atleast write a new rough draft. I mildly tweeked my essay between applications one and two thinking that my experiences hadn't changed that much. For this round, I decided to jot down a new rough draft thinking it wouldn't change that much, and ended up with an essay so drastically different that I was shocked. Even "little changes" in your experiences can cause large changes in how you percieve your career in vet med.
 

Pandacinny

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I changed my PS every year that I applied (I got in on my third try.) This was because I felt uncomfortable recycling the essay every year and because I got more experience to add every year. I have trouble writing PS type essays, though, so I wasn't as attached to mine and didn't feel bad tossing it every year for a new one.

For LORs, I had two people write them all three years and changed the third one every year. This wasn't part of any strategy - it was just because I had two people I was really close with and wanted to keep them. The third person just depended on who I'd been working closely with that year.

I think that, when you reapply, you just need to look at what's going to reflect best on you. If the LOR's you used this year are from people who know you well and can represent you and your experience well, reuse them. For your PS - I think drafting up a new one is a good idea, then you can either use that new essay or at least use some of the ideas in it to edit/update your old one. During your post-mortem, they'll talk to you about the weaker points in your application and what you need to work on. You want your new application to reflect all of the hard work you've put in to make yourself a better candidate - you don't want it to look exactly like the application that didn't get you in last year.

If I were you, I would continue to work on getting new experiences in case you don't get in (and also because getting different kinds of experience is fun), but otherwise not worry too much. It sounds like you have a lot of schools to hear from still, so good luck! :luck:
 
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