Now that I’m two years deep in med school, and have a lot of good friends on the Admissions Committee here, I wanted to share some knowledge that may be helpful for any students who are currently applying. Yes, May/June is the time of year when many pre-meds are polishing their applications and are about to begin a very challenging year (more challenging than med school itself if you as me). So I wanted to share some advice. NOTE: I’ve asked for their permission, and they’ve agreed to letting me disseminate this knowledge. Nothing here is confidential.
On Letters of Recommendation.
- I believe you can have 3. Some schools will let you have more. Others won’t. Make sure to check out how many they will accept. If you give too many letters for some schools, they will either toss some of the letters, or they may wonder why you’re going over the maximum.
- At least 1 (or 2) have to be from science professors. If you have a strong relationship with your science professors, this is great! That means you’ve gone to their office hours, actually interacted with them.
- Offer to make the letter writing process easier. Give them your personal statement, and even suggest that they highlight specific qualities about you.
- When you’re looking for a LOR, be honest about it. Professors know that part of their role is to support you. You don’t have to feel bad about asking.
- Make sure to ask early, remind them, and thank them. Professors are very busy and writing a LOR may not be at the top of their mind. Give them a deadline too (I always say a few weeks before the real deadline, so you can follow up in case they forget…).
- If you don’t have strong connections with your science professors, rely on your non-science LOR. Make sure that their letter really is specific, tangible and highlights the qualities you want Admissions to see.
A good LOR won’t make you stand out, but an average or generic letter may actually be detrimental. Most letter writers will be the same. The main way for your letter to stand out is if they are specific and demonstrate tangible results. For example, if you were “one of the most diligent students they’ve ever worked with, coming to most office hours,” instead of “a very good student, with GPA ___) that will give Admissions something specific.
I hope that helps! Good luck!