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Strong LOR's as a Non-Trad

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Apollo1, 09.25.14.

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  1. Apollo1

    Apollo1 Deciding between MD/DO and PA 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    09.03.13
    Messages:
    240
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    I'm in a bit of a pickle regarding LOR's. The school I'm at doesn't have many faculty that teach lower-level and upper-level courses, to where I could establish myself in a core class & build on that in an upper elective. Because of this, its hard to figure out if a certain teacher will be teaching said upper elective during the time a LOR request would be made.

    The only prof. I've been exposed to consistently, so far, has been in Chem. 1 & Intro. to Chem. (the latter class required by my school; the prof. has just recently been designated to teach only these 2 courses). The prof. has said that he is willing to discuss a potential LOR. I've heard that letters from lower-level teachers are not advisable if it can be helped; also, due to working full-time/going to school/the above statement, it's been difficult to anticipate a period of time where I could be exposed to the same teacher overall. This same sentiment applies towards my being able to possibly do research, not that I know how I'd go about accomplishing that.

    Any help from y'all would be most appreciated.
     
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  3. the_fella

    the_fella

    Joined:
    09.18.14
    Messages:
    235
    Status:
    Non-Student
    If the teacher knows you well, that would probably hold more weight. For instance, one of the professors I asked was my professor for the entire Biology sequence (101-103 and labs). I'd had her for other courses as well, and she teaches A&P (for which bio majors don't receive credit at my university, so I never took that). But we've kept in touch over the years and she's pretty awesome. She agreed to write me a good letter. Btw, some of the best advice I've ever received was never ask someone to write you a letter, ask them to write you a GOOD letter (and if they say no, they're dead to you). Lol. I've also asked a philosophy professor, and a couple of German professors, and a chemistry professor I work with but have never had a class with. All of those have agreed so far. Haha.
     
  4. kraskadva

    kraskadva ... 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
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    Do any of the profs you've already had utilize TAs? Because that would be another way to get to know them and let them see another side of you, which would make for a better letter.
    I TA'd for several of my profs and got solid letters. The time doing that definitely helped build the relationships and not every conversation we had was about the class, it just guaranteed more face time.

    Also, check out AMCAS's guideline for letter writers and try to get into a situation where you can demonstrate some of these competencies with the professor. 1) There's more that they're looking for than you might imagine, and not all of it will be demonstrated in a classroom setting. TAing is a good place to start, but there are other ways as well.
    2) If you provide this info to the prof when asking for a letter, they might also realize that there's more they can speak to about you than just grades and academics.
     
  5. Apollo1

    Apollo1 Deciding between MD/DO and PA 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    240
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    The TA's were all grad students; I think that's the policy for the university I'm at. I know that some classes have "discussion" sections at the end of the week for a course; they basically are quasi-classes where you're doing practice problems. From what I understand, there are undergrads that can volunteer to be discussion leaders; the caveat to this is that since I work full-time, my availability for TA/discussion roles is virtually non-existent. That's why I posted about letters; with what's required of me outside the classroom, along with this one professor not teaching any other classes, it's hard to determine whether getting a letter from him would help or hinder me.
     
  6. kraskadva

    kraskadva ... 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Status:
    Medical Student (Accepted)
    At my school we have something similar (UGs doing practice sessions- "recitations" we call them), but the student leading the group as the TA gets to pick when they hold the session. Most schedule them during evenings. Perhaps you could do something similar around your work schedule?

    Yes, it's tough to fit things in when you also have a whole 'nother real life going on outside school. However, you gotta do what you gotta do. A positive letter from a prof who's only seen you in class won't hurt you, but it won't be much help either. You already know that the best letters come from a longer, closer relationship than lecturer-student. So what can you do to get to that kind of relationship? At a bare minimum you at least need to be spending time in their office regularly talking about yourself and your goals so that they get to know you. And obviously the more you can do, the better. So to work around your job, what can you get involved in (maybe sacrifice some sleep for) that presents you in a better, more complete light to this professor?
     

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