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yikes...please help me!!

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Mystique, Aug 28, 2001.

  1. Mystique

    Mystique The Procrastinator 7+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2001
    hey all,

    I need some advice. One of my recommenders wants ME to write the letter of rec and then e-mail it to her so that she can proof it and send it off. I don't have a clue where to start... :(

    What in the world do I include in my own letter of rec??? I need help guys, and this is when I need the SDN family to help me out. I've been searching the web for guidelines, but it's been difficult to find a "format" that I'm "cool" with. Any help you guys give me will be greatly appreciated.

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  3. grasshopper

    grasshopper Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2001
    My very unfounded, very unofficial opinion is that that isn't legitimate because it undermines the point of letters of rec. I had a prof ask me to do that for a summer reserach internship, and even that was pretty weird, but I think it's unacceptable for med school. I'd tell the prof you think it would mean more if you could waive your right to see it (from what I hear, adcoms agree). If they don't have the time or whatever, I'd ask somebody else. But I have no authority or experience or anything, so those that do, please give your two cents.
  4. Smoke This

    Smoke This Sweet cuppin' cakes! 10+ Year Member

    Why don't you discuss your strengths and weaknesses honestly? Write it in the third person. If your recommender is satisfied with its truthfulness, his signature should be a totally valid indication. I say go for it.
  5. synite

    synite Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    May 20, 2001
    grasshopper's got a good point about waiving your right to see the recommendation. all recommendation forms ask you to waive/not waive your right to see the letter. adcomms absolutely value more those recommendations you've waived your right to see. in fact, many will disregard letters if you haven't waived your right. so how will you handle that? either you have to not waive your right and send the letter in, or lie and say you've waived your right (which would be a terrible thing to do).

    is this a common thing for recommendors to do? it's the first i've heard about it. what's the point of a recommendation letter that comes from you?
  6. the whole point of a letter of rec is for a real self assessment of your characterstics that your professor has seen over the time he or she has known you...

    med schools aren't dumb, if your letter of rec sounds like your highlighting points that you have already mentioned in your essays. It becomes rather apparent that the authors are rather similar and that the same points are being emphasized. This is just ONE thing that might come up. Besides, a real letter of rec will focus on aspects that you weren't aware of that may have been very good...

    that is my 2 cents...however feel free to do whatever u want... :D
  7. Wasabi

    Wasabi Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Chicago, Illinois
    try these sites out:

    good luck.
  8. mdhopeful

    mdhopeful Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 2001
    Los Angeles
    pendulum, a request for a draft of the letter is pretty standard from extremely busy professionals particularly in the employment or graduate school level. i've done it numerous times for jobs, fellowships, and other things. in many ways, it is a great thing because your letter writer will get an idea from your draft, what qualities you would like emphasized. for example, my science grades were pretty poor, so my pre-med advisor suggested i ask my letter writers to clearly say somewhere that i was more than capable of high achievement in medical school science courses. yeah, there are subtleties and nuances that only your letter writer knows about you, but don't worry, he/she will edit the letter and add those small details.

    no matter what, you must waive your right to access the letter at a later date. failure to do that will surely invalidate any form of recommendation. do not worry too much about overselling or underselling yourself. i did admissions for graduate school and for a training fellowship at the graduate level and so i've read tons of letter. i can say that although it is somewhat true that all applicants have strong letters, it is obvious when a recommender is highly supporting someone. it is also obvious when that recommender didn't have the time and just highly recommended the person but didn't provide any evidence or examples of why. make sure you include personal interactions with your recommender and not simply a rehashing of scores and actvities. good luck.
  9. BeckyG

    BeckyG Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 5, 2001
    Hi Pendulum,

    Don't worry about it -- this is a more common thing with medical school letters of rec than you'd think. I had to "edit" one of my own letters of rec last year for my recommender (because he did not want to deal with it). He stated that in a lot of cases (he is a prof at a prestigious academic medical center and medical school), recommenders ask applicants to write their own letters of rec - usually because they are just too busy to write them. According to him, it's a common (and accepted) practice.

    If you write the letter for your recommender, you can still waive your rights to see it. All that waiving your rights does is prevent you from going to the respective medical schools at which you've applied and asking to see your letters of rec. So, even if you write it, you can still waive your right to "see" it later at the medical schools. Don't worry about that part.

    As for the actual writing of the letter, it looks like Wasabi gave you some good sites. In my experience, my best letters had this style:

    1) an assessment of my candidacy ("I highly recommend" .. "unreservedly recommend"... "one of the best students I have encountered in my __x__ number of years working with students".. etc.)

    2) explanation of how my recommender knows me (applicant), what I did for this person, my responsibilities and duties, etc. (if it was not a class-based recommendation) OR if it was an assessment from a class, the letter would mention my strengths, how I did in the class (in comparison to others), how I worked with others, how I helped others, etc.

    3) a discussion of my personal (non-academic) qualities that stand out/make me unique (things like compassion, volunteer work, extracurriculars can go here)

    4) an assessment of my motivation and understanding of the medical profession (and demonstration of this through work experience and/or volunteer work)

    5) conclusion para

    This is just one format. I'm sure there are many others. Also, if you are interested, my undergrad college has a "worksheet" to give to people writing letters of rec for you. The website is:

    To save time, the format they give is:

    First paragraph: State that the letter of recommendation is for me, and that I am applying for the following type of work/graduate program.

    Second paragraph: State the nature of our relationship, the length of time you have known me, and the types of assignments, projects, work, or other experience we shared.

    Third paragraph: Please give some detail about my skills, talents, abilities, personal qualities, or applicable accomplishments.

    Final paragraph: Please state how you can be reached for more information if you are willing to be contacted.

    I think this is a bit simplistic -- five paragraphs seems better.. my pre-med committee gave us a sheet to include with our requests for letters of rec that noted: 1) the letter should be at least a page or longer (not exceeding two pages) - anything shorter may make Adcoms think the recommender doesn't have much to say about you and 2) use as many superlatives as possible (without overkill).

    I hope this is helpful. Good luck!

    -- Becky
  10. geeez becky what a wonderful explanation :)

    y dont u go ahead and right the letter and forward it to pendulum ;) u practically wrote it :D
  11. TwoSteveSquared

    TwoSteveSquared Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2001
    Los Angeles
    A PAGE OR LONGER!!! Are you kidding me? I've heard a "long" letter is anything over a half page. Your school rocks for asking profs to write over a page. At UCLA, a typical o-chem or bio-chem prof will write 5 or 6 letters every week. There's no way those are a page or longer. What school did you go to?
  12. Mystique

    Mystique The Procrastinator 7+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2001

    Thanks for your responses! I will definitely follow the guidelines on the websites provided and Becky's format and include my weaknesses. This was the first time I was ever told to write a rec, so I was a bit stressed about it. But now since I now what to include, I feel much better. You all are wonderful! Thanks for taking the time to write your responses.

  13. synite

    synite Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    May 20, 2001
    i'm still amazed that this is a "common and accepted" practice. it just doesn't seem to respect the purpose of rec letters.
    i guess you learn something new every day... :D :D

    anyway, good luck writing it. it seems like a pretty daunting task!
  14. ckent

    ckent Banned Banned

    Jul 31, 2000
    My dad is a physician and whenever nurses ask him for a letter of rec, he asks them to write it for themselves too and he just signs it. It's not that uncommon.

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