Letters of Recommendation

So I got some helpful feedback on my last question and I thought I’d try another.

I have a couple of professors that I have a really great rapport with and I’m sure they would write me some nice LOR’s.

I read a posting somewhere awhile back about the best method of securing strong LOR’s from your profs. It involved giving them a packet with your resume, a draft of your personal statement, and instructions on how to write a med school LOR along with Interfolio instructions (I’m now a member).

I’d like to hear some of your ideas on securing strong letters before my prof’s forget who the heck I am.


My approach was always to make sure your professors know who you are. This means asking additional questions after class, engaging in conversations about the subject or anything else. I’ve made friends with professors and when it came down to asking for LORs, many were quick to say yes. This even happens with a class where I didn’t even do well but became good friends with the professor and a really good letter of recommendation came from him.

At the same time, I had one of the highest grades in another class and was doing everything to be recognized in that class. Yet the professor refused to write me one. Her excuse was that it is better for someone to write a letter who knows me more??? Seriously, one semester isn’t enough to know a student? Most students you’ll only see for one semester if it isn’t the same teacher teaching the advanced sciences.

I’ve never had to provide a packet or resume for any of the professors I’ve asked. One barely knew me and still said yes and just wanted me to give a little background information about myself sent through email which he’ll then use to write based on. So this might be something they will ask for. Plus you can always ask if a packet or resume is something your professor will need.

I’d say ask all of them, even the ones who might not know you well. If you need 2-3 LORs, go to the professors that will say yes for sure, then ask the rest. Trust me, you’ll be surprised at those who may say yes. If I was a professor, I would be honored to write someone a letter of recommendation because it means the student values my opnion of them.

Yea, that’s why I kind of liked the idea of providing my resume, which I already have on hand, as a way to give the prof’s a little bit deeper background as opposed to what they see of me in class.

I think I will approach them first and ask them, “Would you be willing to write me a strong letter of recommendation?” and judge their reaction from there. I still have a couple of more years to go and I don’t want to waste these relationships I’ve built by waiting too long.

I just hate that they have to be sealed letters. I wanna know!

When I requested my letters, my adviser did recommended a packet. Whenever I requested a letter I provided a full transcript, my personal statement, and a piece of paper that said how to write a strong LOR for medical school. I agree with cliff that you should ask if they can write you a strong letter. It sounds like this won’t be a problem for you, but choose professors that know you a little better and like you (if/when possible)

I always include a cover letter with my packet. The packet includes the following pieces (whether they ask for them or not, providing this information gives weight to your request–and I think your letter writer will take it more seriously if you do.)

  1. Cover Letter

  2. Personal Statement

  3. Resume/CV type document outlining gpa, relevant volunteer and/or work experience --no more than 1 page.

    My cover letter starts with a generic template, and then I tweak it based on who I’m writing to. It has the basic instructions, what I’m looking for, and some mega appreciation. I even add a quote from one of my admissions websites, explaining what the letter should address.

    ***Always, always, always be very clear with your instructions regarding how the letter should be submitted and the deadline for getting it done. Mention your deadline twice in your cover letter.

    That’s my system, for what it’s worth.

I run a Social Work Department at a busy federally funded health center. The Chief Medical Officer is my boss and has offered to write a letter for me, as has the Director of Psychiatry. I am gradually taking what is left of my pre-req’s at a local University…should I be cultivating professors to write letters? I have been post-graduate school for 16 years…none of the professors I knew are even there anymore- Retired, or moved on…On average, how many letters will I need for each school I apply for?

In addition to carrieliz’s excellent suggestions, I sent TWO letters of thank you. One when the due date was approaching thanking them again for agreeing to write the letter and thanking them for trying to get it in by such and such a date.

A second one immediately after Interfolio let me know they had received the letter. Had them addressed and ready to go (as I’m not always the most timely with thank you’s.

I’ve also sent these professors Christmas cards giving them a little update on my progress in med school, because I really am grateful for the effort they took which helped me on my way