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When to get letters of recommendation?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by penisclaw, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. penisclaw

    penisclaw Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

    Jun 6, 2006
    I am currently a junior at my undergrad university and am looking to start my application over the summer for med school 2008. I talked to my advisor about getting letters of recommendation for the AAMC, and he suggested I start looking to do so now, before all the professors leave for the summer. I tried to set up my application with AMCAS, but it isn't available until May 7th or so. It's my understanding that the letter writers mail the letters directly to the AAMC, but how can they do so without the AAMC having any record of me because I haven't set up an app yet? Am I misinformed about something or should I just be waiting until later to get my letters?
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  3. mongrel

    mongrel Assoc. Prof. Dogsuit 5+ Year Member

    If your school doesn't have a letter forwarding service, you may find using Interfolio ( necessary. If you go to their website you can read more about their service.

    Edit: in addition, if you do a quick search of forums you can find out what other SDN'ers had to say about them too.
  4. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

    Sep 4, 2006
    Orange, CA
    Your understanding is wrong. AAMC has nothing to do with your LORs they don't accept them, keep them or distribute them, so don't stress about that. And you won't be able to get on AAMC until the beginning of May.

    However, you cannot take the letters from the writers and forward them to schools themselves either.

    A lot of schools have letter services that collect and distrubute LORs. Otherwise you could use an online letter service like

    The other option is to just give your professors a bunch of self-addressed stamped envelopes and have them write them and send them. But this gets tricky because some schools won't accept LORs from you until they have requested a secondary which might not be until August/September.

    But definitely start asking now, and find out if your school has a letter service. If they don't the online letter services are definitely simplest since the schools simply upload your letters.

    Good luck.
  5. SpartanBlueJay2

    SpartanBlueJay2 5+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2007
    My motto is "ask as early as possible" and keep your letter writers updated. You need to give them a heads-up early enough that you're not rushing them, but also keep on top of things b/c they're busy with other things and they'll probably otherwise forget. I started asking for letters in early March.
  6. geogil

    geogil Still training. 7+ Year Member

    May 1, 2006
    ask early and ask a lot. Use interfolio to store them, and when those secondaries start pouring in this summer, pick and choose which ones to use and send them in with interfolio. Interfolio can send them as paper letter, electronically, and a fax I think. The electronic option is great because it really decreases the turnaround time on the secondaries you submit. AMCAS has nothing to do with your LORS, as has been said before. I would aim to have all your letters obtained and stored at interfolio by mid june.
  7. y8507

    y8507 2+ Year Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    definitely as early as possible. i asked for mine throughout my junior year so that they would be in on time. my university has a recommendation service where they store them for life and send them out as needed. if yours doesn't, use a service. even if you're a sophomore, it's good to get recs from people while they still remember you and have the held by a service.
  8. Haemulon

    Haemulon Slippery When Wet Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Jun 1, 2006
    On SDN
    alwaysaangel had a great response. I agree with all of this. My comments in addition or as a reiteration:

    1. AAMCA has nothing to do with your LOR's. LOR's are mailed separately to each institution to which you are applying (usually when you submit a secondary, sometimes you can have them sent a little earlier). Interfolio is something to consider, as is utilizing your university's letter mailing service, or simply providing addresses and stamps to your recommender (maybe pre-addressed envelopes too).

    2. Begin asking professors now (early-mid spring is good) if they will be willing to write you an LOR for med school. If you are applying early (submitting AMCAS app in Jun or July), then shoot to have LOR's ready to be mailed out by about a few weeks after that. You will be able to better monitor the appropriate time as it gets closer..

    3. LOR's can really hold up the process of your application becoming complete at med schools. Ironically, it is also the one part of your application package that you have the least control over in some circumstances. So maintain good communication with your recommenders. Interfolio helps to eleviate much of this concern, but I did not use it. So can't comment too much.

    4. As the application time approaches, make sure that you start becoming extremely familiar with your selected school's application deadline requirements. Some school's have strict deadlines about when application materials should be submitted, such as within 30 days of receipt of secondary application for instance. So potentially you could have everything in, but one or two of your letters not in on time, which could screw you.

    5. Some schools require you to submit additional forms with each recommendation, signed by both you and the recommender. Basically they function as a waiver of your right to see the contents of the letter.

    6. Oh yeh, different schools will have different LOR requirements (pre-med committee letter required in some cases, varying numbers of science versus non-science LOR's, etc ...). Make sure that you look into this. You may even have different combinations of letters sent to different schools, depending on their specific requirements and/or what you want to emphasize about yourself.
  9. afterthought

    afterthought 7+ Year Member

    Jan 12, 2006
    I was going to reply... but it looks like there's no need. Consider this an endorsement of all the advice above.

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