So I asked my molecular biology prof for a LOR and he said....

sizillyd

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He asked me to type up a draft of the letter. WTF? Does this guy want me to write it so he can tweak it a bit and then sign it? He isn't that great with English, so maybe this could be the reason. Does anybody have any advice for me? Maybe how to begin it or what to put in it? I don't want to go overboard by making myself look like a god or anything. Help?
 

Augustus

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He asked me to type up a draft of the letter. WTF? Does this guy want me to write it so he can tweak it a bit and then sign it? He isn't that great with English, so maybe this could be the reason. Does anybody have any advice for me? Maybe how to begin it or what to put in it? I don't want to go overboard by making myself look like a god or anything. Help?

Yep. If I were you I'd write a letter that makes you look like God. Then have him sign it. If he is going to sign his name to whatever it is that you write make it count.
 

dingyibvs

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happens all the time. make yourself sound perfect, and if he wants to tune it down its his choice.
 

Latuza

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Make sure you use wording you normally don't use, so the people reading the letters won't think you wrote it. Or make sure anything in your application doesn't resemble anything in the letter.
 

JJMrK

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Yeah, I agree that this is weird, but it seems to happen pretty often. Make yourself sound great; he can always change things around.
 

alibai3ah

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He asked me to type up a draft of the letter. WTF? Does this guy want me to write it so he can tweak it a bit and then sign it? He isn't that great with English, so maybe this could be the reason. Does anybody have any advice for me? Maybe how to begin it or what to put in it? I don't want to go overboard by making myself look like a god or anything. Help?
Are you kidding me...this is awesome news. You have full control over the letter, good luck!
 

LizzyM

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These letters follow a formula:

First sentence states that one is pleased to write a letter of recommendation for [individual's name]. Obviously, it is important to have your name at the top of the body of the letter. The rest of the paragraph describes how long the writer has known you, the circumstances under which you first met, and whatever interactions you've had. (e.g. that he was your professor and later you served as a teaching assistant or lab assistant). If you've had continued contact after your regular meetings ended, that gets mentioned too (some people stay in touch for years with an advisor or mentor).

The next paragraph describes the activities in which you engaged as observed by the writer. Some writers will go on & on about what they cover in a course or the type of research they do in the lab. Some writers will cover how the applicant did grade-wise with quizes, tests, assignments or how much the applicant participated in class discussion or the topic and quality of a big written assignment or class presentation.

[Optional: a paragraph describing other activities that the writer knows of - because you told him - but that he didn't observe himself. It might open by saying that the applicant has been active on or off campus, etc, etc., or has been drivien in preparing for admission to med school (that's not too flattering if taken the wrong way) or something along those lines).]

The next paragraph covers a subjective assessment of the applicant's personal characteristics.

The final paragraph is a closing stating that the writer supports the applicant's application to medical school and usually says something nice about wishing that they were going into graduate school but they are well suited for medicine or that the writer would be happy to have the applicant as a doctor some day. Most end with something saying if you wish to speak to me you may call 000 000 0000.
 

typhoonegator

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This is common practice. I make people do this too. It helps me get to know them a little better, and I don't have to struggle for anecdotes to put in the middle if I don't know them well. Make sure you have a template to start with.

The reader wants to know: How the writer knows the applicant, for how long, and in what capacity. The reader also wants to know what the writer thinks is special about the applicant, which is usually best illustrated through an anecdote. This illustrates a concrete example, and shows that the letter writer really knows the applicant. Stress good communication, positive attitude, commitment to team, independent thought, leadership skills if possible. Don't do all of them. Try to keep it to a page or slightly over.

People who read a lot of recommendation letters look for key words that may point to a less-than-glowing opinion, so if you are drafting the letter, do not be bashful about painting yourself in a good light. Don't say you're good, or ...one of the better..., say you're great, or among the best. You don't want to point out things to work on or anything like that. This is not an evaluation.

At the close of the letter, you want to write that "I recommend _____ for the position of _____ with my highest recommendation, with no reservations whatsoever." This is about as glowing as you can get, and is a common sentence in good medical recommendation letters. As you can imagine, there are different renditions of this sentence that can subtly communicate a wealth of information without every sounding downright negative. Even fairly weak recommendation letters sound pretty good to the untrained observer.
 

Beta Cell

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These letters follow a formula:

First sentence states that one is pleased to write a letter of recommendation for [individual's name]. Obviously, it is important to have your name at the top of the body of the letter. The rest of the paragraph describes how long the writer has known you, the circumstances under which you first met, and whatever interactions you've had. (e.g. that he was your professor and later you served as a teaching assistant or lab assistant). If you've had continued contact after your regular meetings ended, that gets mentioned too (some people stay in touch for years with an advisor or mentor).

The next paragraph describes the activities in which you engaged as observed by the writer. Some writers will go on & on about what they cover in a course or the type of research they do in the lab. Some writers will cover how the applicant did grade-wise with quizes, tests, assignments or how much the applicant participated in class discussion or the topic and quality of a big written assignment or class presentation.

[Optional: a paragraph describing other activities that the writer knows of - because you told him - but that he didn't observe himself. It might open by saying that the applicant has been active on or off campus, etc, etc., or has been drivien in preparing for admission to med school (that's not too flattering if taken the wrong way) or something along those lines).]

The next paragraph covers a subjective assessment of the applicant's personal characteristics.

The final paragraph is a closing stating that the writer supports the applicant's application to medical school and usually says something nice about wishing that they were going into graduate school but they are well suited for medicine or that the writer would be happy to have the applicant as a doctor some day. Most end with something saying if you wish to speak to me you may call 000 000 0000.
It's almost like LizzyM has read thousands of these :laugh:.
 

LizzyM

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Just out of curiosity, how often do rec writers get contacted?
I've done it once in 10 years and not because I had doubts or questoins but mostly to needle the writer of a committee letter who changed the applicant's name in mid letter. (More like he cut & copied a letter written for someone else and forgot that the other guy's name was mentioned in an anecdote in the middle of the letter. It was sloppy and I felt like calling him out on it.)

I'd say that it might get done about 0.01% of the time, that is 1:10,000.
 

Pedie Packs

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These letters follow a formula:

First sentence states that one is pleased to write a letter of recommendation for [individual's name]. Obviously, it is important to have your name at the top of the body of the letter. The rest of the paragraph describes how long the writer has known you, the circumstances under which you first met, and whatever interactions you've had. (e.g. that he was your professor and later you served as a teaching assistant or lab assistant). If you've had continued contact after your regular meetings ended, that gets mentioned too (some people stay in touch for years with an advisor or mentor).

The next paragraph describes the activities in which you engaged as observed by the writer. Some writers will go on & on about what they cover in a course or the type of research they do in the lab. Some writers will cover how the applicant did grade-wise with quizes, tests, assignments or how much the applicant participated in class discussion or the topic and quality of a big written assignment or class presentation.

[Optional: a paragraph describing other activities that the writer knows of - because you told him - but that he didn't observe himself. It might open by saying that the applicant has been active on or off campus, etc, etc., or has been drivien in preparing for admission to med school (that's not too flattering if taken the wrong way) or something along those lines).]

The next paragraph covers a subjective assessment of the applicant's personal characteristics.

The final paragraph is a closing stating that the writer supports the applicant's application to medical school and usually says something nice about wishing that they were going into graduate school but they are well suited for medicine or that the writer would be happy to have the applicant as a doctor some day. Most end with something saying if you wish to speak to me you may call 000 000 0000.
Is this a winning formula?
 

Marcus Brody

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I've done it once in 10 years and not because I had doubts or questoins but mostly to needle the writer of a committee letter who changed the applicant's name in mid letter. (More like he cut & copied a letter written for someone else and forgot that the other guy's name was mentioned in an anecdote in the middle of the letter. It was sloppy and I felt like calling him out on it.)

I'd say that it might get done about 0.01% of the time, that is 1:10,000.

epic fail.......
 

LizzyM

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Is this a winning formula?
This is just an outline. It is the content of the paragraphs that will make or break you. Don't write anything even a little bit negative. Don't say that anything was less than perfect but has improved (even if it has). Typoonegator has some good tips up there. ^^
 

LizzyM

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i always thought this was not legal and dishonest.
Legally, the student has a legal right under federal law to see everything in their file, including letters of recommendation. What students are asked to do is to waive the right to see the letter. There is nothing legal or dishonest with drafting a letter but waiving the write to read the final version. There is also nothing wrong with a writer giving you an unsolicited copy of the letter even if you've waived your right to see it. Think of a letter you've waive the right to see this way: you don't have the right to walk into your professor's home and it would be wrong to try to sneak into the room, but you may go ahead & do so if invited.
 

schrizto

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These letters follow a formula:

First sentence states that one is pleased to write a letter of recommendation for [individual's name]. Obviously, it is important to have your name at the top of the body of the letter. The rest of the paragraph describes how long the writer has known you, the circumstances under which you first met, and whatever interactions you've had. (e.g. that he was your professor and later you served as a teaching assistant or lab assistant). If you've had continued contact after your regular meetings ended, that gets mentioned too (some people stay in touch for years with an advisor or mentor).

The next paragraph describes the activities in which you engaged as observed by the writer. Some writers will go on & on about what they cover in a course or the type of research they do in the lab. Some writers will cover how the applicant did grade-wise with quizes, tests, assignments or how much the applicant participated in class discussion or the topic and quality of a big written assignment or class presentation.

[Optional: a paragraph describing other activities that the writer knows of - because you told him - but that he didn't observe himself. It might open by saying that the applicant has been active on or off campus, etc, etc., or has been drivien in preparing for admission to med school (that's not too flattering if taken the wrong way) or something along those lines).]

The next paragraph covers a subjective assessment of the applicant's personal characteristics.

The final paragraph is a closing stating that the writer supports the applicant's application to medical school and usually says something nice about wishing that they were going into graduate school but they are well suited for medicine or that the writer would be happy to have the applicant as a doctor some day. Most end with something saying if you wish to speak to me you may call 000 000 0000.
This is a very helpful post. :thumbup: I had the same thing asked of me as the OP before and this would have made it much easier.