Jul 28, 2011
659
9
Texas
Status
Pre-Medical
I had a professor recently email me saying it may help her out if she had a rough draft.

How am I supposed to write my own letter? Does anyone know of any good templates? I've tried searching Google but haven't been pleased with any of the results.
 
Jan 4, 2012
1,479
4
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Not a good idea. Find another professor or write a cover letter to explain more about yourself. But he or she needs to write the letter head to toe.
 

2ndCareerMD

5+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2010
47
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I had to do this for several of my letters. Look at it as a fantastic opportunity to ensure the letter writer highlights portions of your application that you want addressed. Obviously, don't write anything false or embellished. I would also submit a resume with your draft to the letter writer. They all take a similar format:
Salutation
Statement of Support
Short Intro/Background of Letter writer
Description of Interaction, examples of above average performance, qualities that indicate future success
Closing Statement
Signature
 

DrMediterranean

7+ Year Member
Aug 4, 2011
453
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nope. Take this as an opportunity to demonstrate the integrity medical schools will expect of you. Find another recommender who knows you well enough to write a good recommendation and cares enough to take the time to do so.
+1
 
OP
fas376
Jul 28, 2011
659
9
Texas
Status
Pre-Medical
You guys have to realize that she's teaching a summer class and is the head of our research department. A recommendation from her would look amazing. I did research with her for 8 months, and I also took another one of her classes.

I go to a big school (University of Texas at Austin) so finding a good writer is tough. I asked my Biochem professor for one and he had a letter submitted 2 hours after my email (meaning he has a template for all of his students). I've tried finding other writers!
 
OP
fas376
Jul 28, 2011
659
9
Texas
Status
Pre-Medical
None of this matters. I wouldn't step foot on that slippery slope.
I don't get it. Most of my friends have written their own letters. Maybe you guys have the luxury of getting to know your professors, but it's not that simple for us. Even if you go to your professor's office hours here, there are 10-15 other students.

I don't think it's unethical to write your own letter. I'm not impersonating them. They're going to review it and revise it as needed. I've asked 4 professors for rec letters thus far. 3 have responded. From those 3, 2 have asked for a rough draft.

Anyway, back to my question - does anyone know of any good templates?
 
May 12, 2012
903
1
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Pre-Medical
I don't get it. Most of my friends have written their own letters. Maybe you guys have the luxury of getting to know your professors, but it's not that simple for us. Even if you go to your professor's office hours here, there are 10-15 other students.

I don't think it's unethical to write your own letter. I'm not impersonating them. They're going to review it and revise it as needed. I've asked 4 professors for rec letters thus far. 3 have responded. From those 3, 2 have asked for a rough draft.

Anyway, back to my question - does anyone know of any good templates?
I did this as well. I don't see any shame in it. Most of my classes are 400+ students, and even when you try to go to office hours there is a group of 50 kids crammed into the office. It's impossible to get to know most professors. Take it where you can get it.

When I wrote mine I just googled "Medical School Letter of Recommendation Verbage" and found a bunch of examples and just kind of pieced it together. It was kind of awkward but it turned out pretty well!
 

Cinclus

Es un pájaro.
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Nope. Take this as an opportunity to demonstrate the integrity medical schools will expect of you. Find another recommender who knows you well enough to write a good recommendation and cares enough to take the time to do so.
It's actually extremely common for busy profs to request that students provide them with their own letter. They can then modify, embellish, delete, etc. to their heart's content once you give it to them, and they don't have to show you the final product. As long as they agree with everything contained within the letter when they sign their name at the bottom, I don't really see this as an honesty/integrity problem. It's really just a pain!
 

km17

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I am a little surprised at the harsh backlash here against the idea of DRAFTING a letter for a professor. How is this morally different than preparing a letter packet with a copy of your activities, PS, transcript, samples of work, and a cover letter with talking points to the professor? By no means is anyone advocating that you submit a FAKE letter, your professor will still read, substantially edit, and sign off on anything you've written.

The Ethicist in the NYT wrote a column about this last year for a law school applicant: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/magazine/mag-13Ethicist-t.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=the ethicist&st=cse

Now, would I prefer to draft my own letter? No, I like the approach of the packet with talking points because the professor would have a way more mature perspective than I would. But is it unethical? I don't think so, especially if you hold the professor in high enough esteem that you would trust her to actually thoughtfully edit your document instead of just signing off on it.
 
OP
fas376
Jul 28, 2011
659
9
Texas
Status
Pre-Medical
I did this as well. I don't see any shame in it. Most of my classes are 400+ students, and even when you try to go to office hours there is a group of 50 kids crammed into the office. It's impossible to get to know most professors. Take it where you can get it.

When I wrote mine I just googled "Medical School Letter of Recommendation Verbage" and found a bunch of examples and just kind of pieced it together. It was kind of awkward but it turned out pretty well!
That is exactly what I was looking for. Thank You!

Did anyone else find any other good sources?
 
OP
fas376
Jul 28, 2011
659
9
Texas
Status
Pre-Medical
And thank you cinclus and km17. I was wondering why people were bashing me! Annoying pre meds...
 
Dec 3, 2011
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"The Library"
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I go to a university that's bigger than yours and I know a LOT of students that have gotten close enough to multiple professors, so that they didn't have to do this, myself included (and I'm not the world's most talkative or social person). If you didn't take the time to form relationships, then you have a problem. But writing your own letter of recommendation (and chances are, if she's really THAT busy she's not going to do a whole lot of editing to your letter) is unethical and unfair. Look for someone else, or use this time to form some strong relationships ASAP. All you should do is provide a resume and/or points that you'd like your recommender to address in your letter.
 
Nov 19, 2010
329
2
Status
Pre-Medical
I had a professor recently email me saying it may help her out if she had a rough draft.

How am I supposed to write my own letter? Does anyone know of any good templates? I've tried searching Google but haven't been pleased with any of the results.

Sounds like a red flag that this person isn't very invested in you. Do what you want, but if I were in your shoes, I would politely decline and find another option.
 
OP
fas376
Jul 28, 2011
659
9
Texas
Status
Pre-Medical
I go to a university that's bigger than yours and I know a LOT of students that have gotten close enough to multiple professors, so that they didn't have to do this, myself included (and I'm not the world's most talkative or social person). If you didn't take the time to form relationships, then you have a problem. But writing your own letter of recommendation (and chances are, if she's really THAT busy she's not going to do a whole lot of editing to your letter) is unethical and unfair. Look for someone else, or use this time to form some strong relationships ASAP. All you should do is provide a resume and/or points that you'd like your recommender to address in your letter.
I've known her for 3 years. Did research with her for 8 months, and took a class with her. She's told me many times I'm one of the best student researchers she's seen. We would literally spend an hour talking about the best bars in the city because she knows me and my girlfriend love dancing. So I would say I've done a pretty good job getting to know her on a personal basis. So your logic is flawed.

She's busy. End of story. I didn't ask for your opinion. I asked for templates. Get out of this thread.
 
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Apr 7, 2012
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I've known her for 3 years. Did research with her for 8 months, and took a class with her. She's told me many times I'm one of the best student researchers she's seen. We would literally spend an hour talking about the best bars in the city because she knows me and my girlfriend love dancing. So I would say I've done a pretty good job getting to know her on a personal basis. So your logic is flawed.

She's busy. End of story. I didn't ask for your opinion. I asked for templates. Get out of this thread.
Wow are you that insecure that you can't take a few people disagreeing with you? That's a huge problem. Calm down.
 
OP
fas376
Jul 28, 2011
659
9
Texas
Status
Pre-Medical
Wow are you that insecure that you can't take a few people disagreeing with you? That's a huge problem. Calm down.
Actually, I saw a lot of people disagreeing with me and didn't say anything.

The comment "If you didn't take the time to form relationships, then you have a problem" was just annoying because he seems to assume that I'm just asking some random professor.

But on another note, I simply asked for templates :D
 
Dec 3, 2011
1,071
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"The Library"
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I've known her for 3 years. Did research with her for 8 months, and took a class with her. She's told me many times I'm one of the best student researchers she's seen. We would literally spend an hour talking about the best bars in the city because she knows me and my girlfriend love dancing. So I would say I've done a pretty good job getting to know her on a personal basis. So your logic is flawed.

She's busy. End of story. I didn't ask for your opinion. I asked for templates. Get out of this thread.
To me, it's astonishing that you'd know someone as well as you claim to, and at the end of it all, they can't write a few paragraphs about you on their own. Like I said, I go to a significantly bigger school than you, and I've never heard of anyone having to do this, not even when asking professors that teach 200+ student classes. I will still say that writing your own letter is unethical and unfair because again, if she's really SO busy that she can't write you a letter, she's probably too busy to edit it a whole lot. The most any professor has asked of me is a resume and/or talking points for the letter (so, bringing up certain things I did in class that stood out from everyone else, for instance).

And my logic isn't flawed. Generally, if a professor can't write a few things about you, it's because they DON'T know you well enough, and if they are REALLY too busy to write you a letter, they tell you so. What do you really think that professor's going to talk about, you dancing with your girlfriend at a bar? There's a difference between a professor having some things in common with you, and a professor really getting to KNOW you. If in the course of knowing this professor for three years, through a class, and through research, they STILL can't come up with stuff to say on their own, then yes, there is a problem. The problem may or may be yours, but like many others have said on this thread, you would be better off going elsewhere for a letter.

I do hope you aren't this touchy in person...definitely doesn't show the compassionate, tolerant nature that is desired in medicine. I'm not trying to be annoying, as you claim; I'm trying to be helpful and honest.
 
OP
fas376
Jul 28, 2011
659
9
Texas
Status
Pre-Medical
To me, it's astonishing that you'd know someone as well as you claim to, and at the end of it all, they can't write a few paragraphs about you on their own. Like I said, I go to a significantly bigger school than you, and I've never heard of anyone having to do this, not even when asking professors that teach 200+ student classes. I will still say that writing your own letter is unethical and unfair because again, if she's really SO busy that she can't write you a letter, she's probably too busy to edit it a whole lot. The most any professor has asked of me is a resume and/or talking points for the letter (so, bringing up certain things I did in class that stood out from everyone else, for instance).

And my logic isn't flawed. Generally, if a professor can't write a few things about you, it's because they DON'T know you well enough, and if they are REALLY too busy to write you a letter, they tell you so. What do you really think that professor's going to talk about, you dancing with your girlfriend at a bar? There's a difference between a professor having some things in common with you, and a professor really getting to KNOW you. If in the course of knowing this professor for three years, through a class, and through research, they STILL can't come up with stuff to say on their own, then yes, there is a problem. The problem may or may be yours, but like many others have said on this thread, you would be better off going elsewhere for a letter.

I do hope you aren't this touchy in person...definitely doesn't show the compassionate, tolerant nature that is desired in medicine. I'm not trying to be annoying, as you claim; I'm trying to be helpful and honest.
I understand what you're saying, but you have to realize that even her grad students have a hard time contacting her. Aside from her research in biomechanics, she recently started an autism study. I'm not hyping myself up. Clearly my biochemistry professor didn't know me as well as I had thought if he submitted an artificial letter. But this professor is different. She does know me very well, and she really is too busy to write me a letter from scratch. She won't be able to write it herself until the beginning of July, and I'd rather not wait that long. Just because you haven't encountered professors like that doesn't mean they don't exist.
 

DHURT

5+ Year Member
Jun 17, 2010
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To me, it's astonishing that you'd know someone as well as you claim to, and at the end of it all, they can't write a few paragraphs about you on their own. Like I said, I go to a significantly bigger school than you, and I've never heard of anyone having to do this, not even when asking professors that teach 200+ student classes. I will still say that writing your own letter is unethical and unfair because again, if she's really SO busy that she can't write you a letter, she's probably too busy to edit it a whole lot. The most any professor has asked of me is a resume and/or talking points for the letter (so, bringing up certain things I did in class that stood out from everyone else, for instance).

And my logic isn't flawed. Generally, if a professor can't write a few things about you, it's because they DON'T know you well enough, and if they are REALLY too busy to write you a letter, they tell you so. What do you really think that professor's going to talk about, you dancing with your girlfriend at a bar? There's a difference between a professor having some things in common with you, and a professor really getting to KNOW you. If in the course of knowing this professor for three years, through a class, and through research, they STILL can't come up with stuff to say on their own, then yes, there is a problem. The problem may or may be yours, but like many others have said on this thread, you would be better off going elsewhere for a letter.

I do hope you aren't this touchy in person...definitely doesn't show the compassionate, tolerant nature that is desired in medicine. I'm not trying to be annoying, as you claim; I'm trying to be helpful and honest.
.
 
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sotto voce

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I've known her for 3 years. Did research with her for 8 months, and took a class with her. She's told me many times I'm one of the best student researchers she's seen. We would literally spend an hour talking about the best bars in the city because she knows me and my girlfriend love dancing. So I would say I've done a pretty good job getting to know her on a personal basis. So your logic is flawed.

She's busy. End of story. I didn't ask for your opinion. I asked for templates. Get out of this thread.
There's a balancing act that goes on.

I asked a prof from whom I taken two graduate classes (As in both) for a LOR. He is also my academic advisor. We get along very well.

He told me to provide a draft, not just an outline, but a full draft. Apparently he gets asked to write abou 50 letters per semester and he's a busy guy in general. He told me to write about the things I thought were important (specific class projects, interactions we had, etc.--talk about awkward!).

You have to decide if the prof truly is swamped and does want to write you a letter, or is telling you to bug off.

P.S. I found another letter-writer.
 

sotto voce

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I understand what you're saying, but you have to realize that even her grad students have a hard time contacting her. Aside from her research in biomechanics, she recently started an autism study. I'm not hyping myself up. Clearly my biochemistry professor didn't know me as well as I had thought if he submitted an artificial letter. But this professor is different. She does know me very well, and she really is too busy to write me a letter from scratch. She won't be able to write it herself until the beginning of July, and I'd rather not wait that long. Just because you haven't encountered professors like that doesn't mean they don't exist.
Oh and this is false. Most profs have a template where they can easily spit out letter in less than an hour. Probably 30 minutes for some. Seriously, think if you were a prof, you would spend time on the very first LOR you wrote, working on the letterhead, salutation, introducing yourself and your credentials, formatting, etc. Then you would just change a few things for every other one after that. Sounds like she's sending you a message but idk for sure.
 
May 12, 2012
167
8
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I know you asked for responses to possible templates but I still want to give my opinion for others.

I don't think it's unethical or wrong at all but I do think it is strange and an indicator that it won't be as good of a letter. I go to a very, very large university where the professors are just as busy, but even then I have never heard of anyone ever asking for an entire rough draft. The most you should have to give is a resume, personal statement, and list of stuff you would like included, but to actually write out the structure of the letter for the professor is unnecessary. And I do agree that if she can't find time to whip out a letter for you, she's probably not going to edit it all that much, and it might still be obvious that someone not a professor took part in the writing. It's not that big of a deal, but I'd look for someone else if possible.
 

tn4596

5+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2011
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is it pretty late in this cycle to ask for a rec letter from some1 else? I also go to a large university and I only talked to like 4 proffesors in my school. if they didnt want to write my LORs, i bet nobody else will because they wont even know who i am.
i would just wrote up a rough draft if i was you, OP. some people might not realized that some prof is extremely busy. I asked my PI of 2 years for a rec letters 3 months prior to the deadline and he waited till the last day before the deadline to write it.
in the end, a letter is only a small part of your application, 90% of this game is just mcat and gpa anyway.
 

sotto voce

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is it pretty late in this cycle to ask for a rec letter from some1 else? I also go to a large university and I only talked to like 4 proffesors in my school. if they didnt want to write my LORs, i bet nobody else will because they wont even know who i am.
i would just wrote up a rough draft if i was you, OP. some people might not realized that some prof is extremely busy. I asked my PI of 2 years for a rec letters 3 months prior to the deadline and he waited till the last day before the deadline to write it.
in the end, a letter is only a small part of your application, 90% of this game is just mcat and gpa anyway.
If you are getting a committee letter, yes, it's late. But you can still ask.

For my committee letter, all letters have to be received by them by June 15th. I asked most of the writers 2-3 months in advance, and recently secured the last writer (ironically, she already finished it, unlike the ones who have had more time). So yes, it's late, but no, it's not too late (depending on your committee). Just hurry up and ask so they have about three weeks to write it, and be damn grateful if they agree. :)
 

drizzt3117

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Writing your own letters is fine and very common. Just do a good job with it; there are plenty of formats out there. When writing letters I usually spend the first paragraph discussing how long I've known the candidate, in what context, and some pleasantries. The second paragraph describes the research and describes a specific example that shows maturity or good people skills etc. 3rd p is similar, except discusses the class, 4th is a sort of summary of the recepient's good qualities and the 5th is a conclusion paragraph which is important because of the language. You'd want something like "x is one of the best student researchers with whom I've ever worked, and an excellent student who is not only engaged and very intelligent, but takes his studies to the next level by constantly keeping current with the literature. I give X my strongest possible recommendation for admission to medical school and believe you'll find him as strong an asset to your institution as he has been to UT-A.".
 

notbobtrustme

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Nope. Take this as an opportunity to demonstrate the integrity medical schools will expect of you. Find another recommender who knows you well enough to write a good recommendation and cares enough to take the time to do so.
rofl.

Getting into medical school > ethics/morality. Simple as that. Why jeopardize your future on some ill-conceived notion, especially when a sizable portion of the population isn't playing by some strange set of rules you concocted.

To the OP: Don't write anything negative in your LOR. That's basically the kiss of death even if it's a small dig at yourself to temper your awesome credentials.
 
OP
fas376
Jul 28, 2011
659
9
Texas
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Pre-Medical
Writing your own letters is fine and very common. Just do a good job with it; there are plenty of formats out there. When writing letters I usually spend the first paragraph discussing how long I've known the candidate, in what context, and some pleasantries. The second paragraph describes the research and describes a specific example that shows maturity or good people skills etc. 3rd p is similar, except discusses the class, 4th is a sort of summary of the recepient's good qualities and the 5th is a conclusion paragraph which is important because of the language. You'd want something like "x is one of the best student researchers with whom I've ever worked, and an excellent student who is not only engaged and very intelligent, but takes his studies to the next level by constantly keeping current with the literature. I give X my strongest possible recommendation for admission to medical school and believe you'll find him as strong an asset to your institution as he has been to UT-A.".

That is exactly what I was looking for. I don't understand this site sometimes - I was just asking for advice on what to write, not trying to stir up an argument (what's ethical vs. unethical). Thanks for your response! I'm actually using those sentences you provided (just tweaking them up a little) :D
 
OP
fas376
Jul 28, 2011
659
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rofl.

Getting into medical school > ethics/morality. Simple as that. Why jeopardize your future on some ill-conceived notion, especially when a sizable portion of the population isn't playing by some strange set of rules you concocted.

To the OP: Don't write anything negative in your LOR. That's basically the kiss of death even if it's a small dig at yourself to temper your awesome credentials.
I could not agree more. Thanks for the help bro.
 

Narmerguy

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Writing your own letters is fine and very common. Just do a good job with it; there are plenty of formats out there. When writing letters I usually spend the first paragraph discussing how long I've known the candidate, in what context, and some pleasantries. The second paragraph describes the research and describes a specific example that shows maturity or good people skills etc. 3rd p is similar, except discusses the class, 4th is a sort of summary of the recepient's good qualities and the 5th is a conclusion paragraph which is important because of the language. You'd want something like "x is one of the best student researchers with whom I've ever worked, and an excellent student who is not only engaged and very intelligent, but takes his studies to the next level by constantly keeping current with the literature. I give X my strongest possible recommendation for admission to medical school and believe you'll find him as strong an asset to your institution as he has been to UT-A.".
This. Templates are all over the internet. There's nothing wrong with writing your own letter. It happens often with busy professionals, and it's actually even more common in Europe. It's very awkward at first to actually do, but it is an unparalleled opportunity to set your professor up to say what you'd always hoped and dreamed they would say about you. Just don't embarrass yourself by going over the top.


rofl.

Getting into medical school > ethics/morality. Simple as that. Why jeopardize your future on some ill-conceived notion, especially when a sizable portion of the population isn't playing by some strange set of rules you concocted.

To the OP: Don't write anything negative in your LOR. That's basically the kiss of death even if it's a small dig at yourself to temper your awesome credentials.
No. This is not true. Do not cheat, steal, lie, etc to get into medical school. That said, writing a draft letter for a professor is none of the above as they have the final say and they must submit the letter and sign it for it to go through. It's their call.
 
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tantacles

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This. Templates are all over the internet. There's nothing wrong with writing your own letter. It happens often with busy professionals, and it's actually even more common in Europe. It's very awkward at first to actually do, but it is an unparalleled opportunity to set your professor up to say what you'd always hoped and dreamed they would say about you. Just don't embarrass yourself by going over the top.




No. This is not true. Do not cheat, steal, lie, etc to get into medical school. That said, writing a draft letter for a professor is none of the above as they have the final say and they must submit the letter and sign it for it to go through. It's their call.
All of this, AND, with regard to the last paragraph, you probably shouldn't be writing this letter unless your professor has asked you to. I've seen people go to professors and say, "I already wrote this for you! All you have to do is send it in!" and the professor removes all of the superlatives and sends it.

Writing your own letter is only acceptable if the professor asks you to. Otherwise, don't bother.
 
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rofl.

Getting into medical school > ethics/morality. Simple as that. Why jeopardize your future on some ill-conceived notion, especially when a sizable portion of the population isn't playing by some strange set of rules you concocted.

To the OP: Don't write anything negative in your LOR. That's basically the kiss of death even if it's a small dig at yourself to temper your awesome credentials.
I believe you have it backwards, it's getting into medical school<ethics/morality. Just the fact that you even say that is twisted.

The fact that you're putting an all or nothing emphasis on a LOR and also essentially stating that ethics and morality can be compromised to get into medical school is a creative try but isn't going to cut it. If asked by an adcom if the professor wrote the entire LOR would the OP lie and say yes, or would they admit that they drafted it for the professor? How would the adcom react if the OP told the truth? It would probably never happen but its an interesting question. The OP can play by the rules and maintain a high standard of ethics and still be successful (at this point it's less about the LOR and more about your statement).

Back to the LOR

A LOR is for someone to give their impression of you, not for you to give them a paper of your impression of yourself that they happen to agree with and then sign. It defeats the purpose and I'm sure the professor would have great things to say about the OP that the OP may not even think of.
 

tantacles

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Nope. Take this as an opportunity to demonstrate the integrity medical schools will expect of you. Find another recommender who knows you well enough to write a good recommendation and cares enough to take the time to do so.
Not every instructor has time. OP should write his own letter, make it as glowing as possible but still honest, and send it to the instructor for review. This is very common - more than you know - and can lead to a very positive recommendation if you put in the time to do your research and write it well.

For the record, 2/7 of my total letters were written by me.
 
Apr 7, 2012
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Not every instructor has time. OP should write his own letter, make it as glowing as possible but still honest, and send it to the instructor for review. This is very common - more than you know - and can lead to a very positive recommendation if you put in the time to do your research and write it well.

For the record, 2/7 of my total letters were written by me.
But is it logical to say that just because something is common, it is right? If I ask 7 people to write my LOR and have no idea what they say, but you have 7 people and two of them you actually get to write yourself, highlight your strengths, say not one single negative thing, and essentially make yourself sound like the second coming of Jesus, how is that fair?
 

tantacles

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But is it logical to say that just because something is common, it is right? If I ask 7 people to write my LOR and have no idea what they say, but you have 7 people and two of them you actually get to write yourself, highlight your strengths, say not one single negative thing, and essentially make yourself sound like the second coming of Jesus, how is that fair?
I didn't say it was right. Did you see me saying it was right? I think PIs should get off their asses and write their own damn letters for their students. That PI is going to look at that letter after you write it and decide whether it is or isn't accurate.

And for the record, my exact words were:

make it as glowing as possible but still honest
I did not say that you should make yourself look like Jesus.

Oh, and lest we forget the age old lesson, life's not fair.
 
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I didn't say it was right. Did you see me saying it was right? I think PIs should get off their asses and write their own damn letters for their students. That PI is going to look at that letter after you write it and decide whether it is or isn't accurate.

And for the record, my exact words were:



I did not say that you should make yourself look like Jesus.

Oh, and lest we forget the age old lesson, life's not fair.
Oh my goodness everyone on here is so touchy and grouchy.

You won't say it's right, but you will encourage the OP to do it? So which is it then? Either you think it's right or if you don't think it's right you're encouraging the OP to do something that is wrong. Please clarify.

And life isn't fair, but medical school admissions should be.
 
Feb 23, 2011
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But is it logical to say that just because something is common, it is right? If I ask 7 people to write my LOR and have no idea what they say, but you have 7 people and two of them you actually get to write yourself, highlight your strengths, say not one single negative thing, and essentially make yourself sound like the second coming of Jesus, how is that fair?
To be honest, it's not about being fair. How is it fair that one student went to a small college with class sizes limited to <30 students and had access to professors that lived on campus, hosted dinners, etc and another student goes to a state school with 500+ person lectures? It's not "fair" as you will call it, and each student doesn't have the same opportunity to get a personal recommendation. Fair and ethical are not the same thing.
 
Apr 7, 2012
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To be honest, it's not about being fair. How is it fair that one student went to a small college with class sizes limited to <30 students and had access to professors that lived on campus, hosted dinners, etc and another student goes to a state school with 500+ person lectures? It's not "fair" as you will call it, and each student doesn't have the same opportunity to get a personal recommendation. Fair and ethical are not the same thing.
Point taken, let me revise.

How is that ethically right?

I also want to point out though that the OP stated that they had a great relationship with the professor, so although this is a totally valid argument, in this situation I don't think it's totally applicable.
 

tantacles

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Oh my goodness everyone on here is so touchy and grouchy.

You won't say it's right, but you will encourage the OP to do it? So which is it then? Either you think it's right or if you don't think it's right you're encouraging the OP to do something that is wrong. Please clarify.

And life isn't fair, but medical school admissions should be.
Ok. So many words being put in my mouth here.

I did not say it wasn't right for the OP to write his own letter. I DID NOT SAY THAT.

I DID say is that the professor should get off of his ass and write the letter for him. I DID SAY THAT.

If the professor has asked him to write the letter, he should absolutely do that. It's not unethical at all for this dude, having been asked by his professor, who is the one ethically bound to write an accurate letter, to write a letter that DOES NOT LIE but portrays him in a good light. A fantastic light, even. That doesn't make the process less fair - it just makes it more stressful for the applicant, who now has to take 5-6 hours to do yet another sucky task.

Point taken, let me revise.

How is that ethically right?

I also want to point out though that the OP stated that they had a great relationship with the professor, so although this is a totally valid argument, in this situation I don't think it's totally applicable.
The recommender is the final frontier of ethical responsibility. Ultimately, your writing the letter is really just to help the PI, and the way you write it is meant to help you.
 
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Ok. So many words being put in my mouth here.

I did not say it wasn't right for the OP to write his own letter. I DID NOT SAY THAT.

I DID say is that the professor should get off of his ass and write the letter for him. I DID SAY THAT.

If the professor has asked him to write the letter, he should absolutely do that. It's not unethical at all for this dude, having been asked by his professor, who is the one ethically bound to write an accurate letter, to write a letter that DOES NOT LIE but portrays him in a good light. A fantastic light, even. That doesn't make the process less fair - it just makes it more stressful for the applicant, who now has to take 5-6 hours to do yet another sucky task.
I'm sorry if you feel words are being put into your mouth. Big breaths. Relax. That's just how I was interpreting them, thanks for clearing it up :)

I think you just see it as one more thing to do, whereas I see it as right or wrong.

No point on arguing this point if you and I are in equal but completely different solar systems.
 

tantacles

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I'm sorry if you feel words are being put into your mouth. Big breaths. Relax. That's just how I was interpreting them, thanks for clearing it up :)

I think you just see it as one more thing to do, whereas I see it as right or wrong.

No point on arguing this point if you and I are in equal but completely different solar systems.
Actually, I think you're seeing things as either good or bad, whereas in reality, what we have here is not so much good or bad, right or wrong, but rather wrong or not wrong. My judgment here? The OP would not intrinsically be wrong, mistaken, unethical, immoral, or making a poor judgment by writing his own letter.
 

sunflower18

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I had someone (who knew me well) ask me to provide an outline of what I wanted him to say in the LOR. I think he genuinely just wanted to provide me with exactly what I wanted. Nice, but yes -- it was awkward.

I basically just wrote, like, "In this paragraph, please discuss the context in which you know me and highlight positive aspects of our interaction." etc.

I think that a guide / outline such as this is the best tactic when a recommender requests your input. He will still have to write the whole letter himself, but he has an idea of what kinds of things to say. Could you do something like this, OP?
 
Apr 7, 2012
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Actually, I think you're seeing things as either good or bad, whereas in reality, what we have here is not so much good or bad, right or wrong, but rather wrong or not wrong. My judgment here? The OP would not intrinsically be wrong, mistaken, unethical, immoral, or making a poor judgment by writing his own letter.
I disagree but that's okay. I would be the first to say its probably an awkward and weird situation and the OP should've not been put into this situation. With that being said, i still believe the OP shouldn't be writing their own LOR.
 

tantacles

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I disagree but that's okay. I would be the first to say its probably an awkward and weird situation and the OP should've not been put into this situation. With that being said, i still believe the OP shouldn't be writing their own LOR.
I agree that the recommender should not have put the OP in this situation, but for all the reasons I mentioned before, the OP should absolutely write the letter. Some letters can't skipped. It would have been a huge red flag had my PI from my lab not sent a letter.
 
Apr 7, 2012
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I agree that the recommender should not have put the OP in this situation, but for all the reasons I mentioned before, the OP should absolutely write the letter. Some letters can't skipped. It would have been a huge red flag had my PI from my lab not sent a letter.
The OP has other options, ie what sunflower said.
 
Feb 23, 2011
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How is it ethically any different for the OP to write a draft of the letter than for the OP to provide a detailed list of accomplishments/interactions he would like mentioned?
The point is, the prof, for his/her own reasons good/bad is willing to provide a letter, but wants the OP to draft it. It is then on the shoulders of the prof, not the OP, to read the letter, decide if its valid within his/her context of knowledge of the OP and send it in. The prof isn't telling the OP to write a letter and sign the Prof's name without the prof verifying.
 
Apr 7, 2012
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How is it ethically any different for the OP to write a draft of the letter than for the OP to provide a detailed list of accomplishments/interactions he would like mentioned?
The point is, the prof, for his/her own reasons good/bad is willing to provide a letter, but wants the OP to draft it. It is then on the shoulders of the prof, not the OP, to read the letter, decide if its valid within his/her context of knowledge of the OP and send it in. The prof isn't telling the OP to write a letter and sign the Prof's name without the prof verifying.
Just like I can provide my classmate who I am doing a group project with the information and resources to write her part of the research paper, but in the end I cannot impersonate her and write as if it's her thoughts and work. Now, she can agree to it and all, but in the end the professor reading her portion of the paper is trusting that she was the one who actually wrote it.

And furthermore, even if someone does not sign the professors name and the professor makes a few edits, the bulk of the paper is written by the student. Therefore it's the professor taking credit for a students work.

Look, what is the point of these LORs from our professors anyways? Why cant I write one for my friend? Why can't your parents write one for you? Because the professor is in a position to observe you and come up with their own opinion about you, whether good or bad that is relevant to medical school. Medical schools care about what your professor (not you) has to say about your character, work ethic, etc. The professor's opinion (not the students) is what really holds weight here. If you have students writing for and coming up with ideas for their LOR and then the professor goes with it, who does the opinion really belong to? Not the professor.

I feel like we are going in circles though.
 
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Jul 28, 2011
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Just like I can provide my classmate who I am doing a group project with the information and resources to write her part of the research paper, but in the end I cannot impersonate her and write as if it's her thoughts and work. Now, she can agree to it and all, but in the end the professor reading her portion of the paper is trusting that she was the one who actually wrote it.

And furthermore, even if someone does not sign the professors name and the professor makes a few edits, the bulk of the paper is written by the student. Therefore it's the professor taking credit for a students work.

Look, what is the point of these LORs from our professors anyways? Why cant I write one for my friend? Why can't your parents write one for you? Because the professor is in a position to observe you and come up with their own opinion about you, whether good or bad that is relevant to medical school. Medical schools care about what your professor (not you) has to say about your character, work ethic, etc. The professor's opinion (not the students) is what really holds weight here. If you have students writing for and coming up with ideas for their LOR and then the professor goes with it, who does the opinion really belong to? Not the professor.

I feel like we are going in circles though.
Part of me thinks that you're just upset because I'm going to have kick ass recommendation letters and you wish you had the option to do so...especially since you said "it's not fair." you sound like a child