Admissions committees are generally very specific about from whom they want to receive letters on your behalf. You should do everything you can to give the medical schools exactly the kind of letters they have requested.
Either an original letter written by your undergraduate premedical committee on your behalf, or a summary of excerpts of comments made by individuals who have submitted letters at your request on your behalf. Alternatively, you will be asked to submit two or three individual letters of recommendation, of which at least one or two must come from senior science faculty. A letter written by a teaching assistant usually carries less weight. However, letters cosigned by both the teaching assistant and professor are generally acceptable.
In addition to the recommendations from science faculty, most medical schools request a letter from a humanities or social science professor, especially for non-science majors. You may also be asked to submit a letter by someone familiar with your clinical experience, research, or work history. Generally, it is permissible to send supplemental letters of recommendation in addition to the required letters. But note, these will be additional letters, not letters in substitution of those requested.
As a rule, you should never send more than twice the number of letters requested. Additionally, remember that more letters is not necessarily better. Understand it this way: This means you need to get to know your professors or more importantly, you need to give your professors an opportunity to get to know you.
Go to office hours; become a teaching assistant; volunteer to work in their lab; take them to lunch! Whatever it takes so that when the time comes, they will be able to write you a personal letter of recommendation. If the person hesitates in any way, look elsewhere. Although this may be embarrassing, it will hurt you a lot more in the long run to have someone write you a lukewarm or unenthusiastic letter of recommendation.
Remember, schools fully expect these letters to be glowing endorsements. Once you have garnered a positive response, be sure to provide your recommender with a resume to provide a more complete picture of you as a person. If you have a strong academic record, you may want to include a copy of your transcript to showcase your academic prowess and consistency.
Your Personal Statement and any articles or papers which you think may be helpful should also be offered. Finally, always provide the writer with clear directions for electronic or hard-copy submission of the letter to the appropriate school s. You should provide addressed and stamped envelopes when needed.
Pre-meds who procrastinate will be left scrambling to get recommendations. Professors and teaching assistants can become overwhelmed with requests. You can imagine the potential quality of these letters. You must give at least one month for your letter writers to write and submit the letters.
Keep track of the status of your letters. As the deadlines approach, call and check on their progress. They want to know why you want to enter the medical profession and this is your chance to tell them as clearly and compellingly as you can.
If you plan on submitting your application through AMCAS, the length of your personal statement should be characters, which should be ample space to succinctly set yourself apart from other applicants. You can explain why you really want to pursue medical graduate work and the career path it will enable you to follow. Your essay also enables you to explain things like weaknesses or gaps in an otherwise commendable record. Essays are the best way for admissions officers to determine who you are.
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