Applying as early as possible or having a Pre-med committee LOR?
My dilemma is that I was anticipating being completley done with the primary application process as soon as my April MCAT scores are released, but I found out today that my pre-med comittee will not write a LOR without MCAT scores. So, since these scores come out this summer and the comittee wont be meeting until the first week in Sept, if I waited for this my app wouldnt be complete until close to Oct 1. So my question is should I just gather other LORs? or should I wait? I should mention that I only know one person on the comittee, and not very well at that.
Everyone seems to stress applying early, would this be a situation where it would be worth waiting?
The other option would be to gently demand a letter by the end of this school year, based on my post-bacc GPA of 3.8. You need at least a 25 on the MCAT to get a comittee LOR, and my practice tests indicate that I should be there or above.
When do schools really start looking at applications, my pre-med advisor said having my app completed in Oct would not put me at any disadvantage, but I feel like this is wrong. But then again he advised a 4.0 student to take the MCAT last summer before having taken Org II, PH I, II, and Chem II, he said he could jsut study it on his own over the summer and he would be ready, needless to say, he got a 25 and to date no acceptances from any schools.
What to do? Advice greatly appreciated,
Applying as early as possible or having a Pre-med committee LOR?
The word from my committee is to apply as early as possible. Even though it is supposed to roll along through the fall, both of the committee chairs feel that that is more lip service than actual fact, and that most schools make up their minds on most of the applicant pool they have by the end of the summer, or at least by the end of Sept.
Are you applying to both allopathic and osteopathic? Most osteopathic schools don’t care as much about a committee LOR it seems like, as allopathic. OTOH, a committee LOR does seem to be very important if it’s possible at all to get one. It sounds like your committee kind of needs a gentle kick in the ass to get them looking at you a little more seriously, to me. I am doing mock interviews with folks my committee has lined up, in the next few weeks, and they will be ready to roll everything out the door for me the moment my April MCAT scores are out, this summer. They are all about getting me in as quickly as they can at the front of the application process. It seems to me, based on your GPA, that your committee should be the same. My committee works through the summer, I’m pretty sure. I would think they all should, in order to prevent just what you are talking about happening in your case.
The AAMCAS and the AACOMAS open up in May and allow you to start writing the application before it is open. In the first week in June, they are both open to submit. The application will not be complete until they verify all of the information in your transcript or the MCAT score is released.
The letters of recommendation are not requested by the AAMCAS or the AACOMAS but rather by the schools when they receive your primary and want to send you a secondary. When you get the secondary, the school will alert you which letters THEY want. It is at this point that you ask for your LORs to be mailed to the school and NOT the AAMCAS or the AACOMAS.
Not have an LOR from your comittee will not stop you from applying. It will only stop the school from evaluating your application. When people say apply early, this means get your primay application submitted as soon as possible then complete and submit your secondaries as soon as possible after they come.
I hope this clears things up a little.
That’s good info for me too. Thanks.
So, just to be clear, the LORs go out with the secondaries?
And perhaps if you get secondaries before September, contact admissions offices by phone to explain the situation, and ask them whether they would prefer to wait for the committee letter (explaining the MCAT timing problem), or move forward with individual letters. Different schools will have different views about this. I also think that your committee could surely meet, write the letter and then hold it pending the receipt of your MCAT score to verify that they think you are OK. But that might be too reasonable an approach. This story illustrates what can sometimes be totally irritating about the committee process (which I was pleased to be able to avoid, since I had a post-bac program that didn’t believe in them)–it’s not like your med school isn’t getting the MCAT scores and screening accordingly, so I don’t really see why your committee should take it on themselves to do the one thing that medical schools need absolutely no help or outside information to do. But that’s just my rant, which is neither here nor there.
The one thing about the committee for me is that it has helped me track and organize all the stuff I need to do to apply; and they’ve required for me to write a lot of essays to specific questions that have helped me organize my thoughts in regards to my personal statement, as well as make it somewhat of a cut-and-paste for some of the application questions. I’m hoping all this writing will help me with some of the secondary essays as well.
Additionally, they have been pretty good about answering questions and giving me quite a bit of confidence in my own application so far, which has helped, since I started out feeling like I would be fortunate to have anyone even want to look at my application. Now, after getting feedback from folks who go through this every year and have probably seen hundreds of applications, I feel pretty confident that I am going to stand out in the crowd (in a good way), assuming I don’t bomb the MCAT. These same advisors are hated by some, because they don’t pull any punches and tell them flat out if they think they are probably wasting their time. They still help them, but they don’t make any friends because of the feedback they give. None of that has happened for me, and I feel really good about that. This whole process is a little overwhelming in the way it can make you feel like an insignificant speck trying to climb this gigantic mountain in front of you.
I am probably fortunate with the advisory/application committee I am dealing with, and many are probably not like this, but just wanted to throw in my perspective.
I would submit my AMCAS in June, as soon as I had my MCAT score and I felt confident about my chances of success. You still have probably a month or two after that before they start asking for LORs.
Why is your committee so lame, that they are going to hold up your app by a few critical months? You might double check and be sure that they really do not do letters in June. You also need to make sure that you don’t fall into the category of students who must have committee letters. Sometimes, if the committee is not available to write the letter, then you can bypass this requirement.
At many schools, you can submit more than the required number of LORs, so you could send in most of them early, then send in the committee letter as an extra afterwards. (You need to check and be sure you’re OK doing this, like Joe said.)
I decided not to get a committee LOR. Primary reason: they required that if they wrote one, I could only contribute 3 LORs for them to look at, and those identical LORs would have to be sent with each application. They had a lot of restrictions on who those LORs could be from, which I couldn’t satisfy. Second reason: I didn’t think it would be a very useful letter, since none of them knew me. I knew I would have good strong letters from other people.
I had LORs from former supervisors, senior faculty members who had been professional colleagues, doctors I had shadowed, and one from a faculty member for a recent prereq course I’d taken. Worked out great.
I didn’t think it would be a very useful letter, since none of them knew me. I knew I would have good strong letters from other people.
I definitely agree with this, I think I am going to arrange to have other LORs ready to go, and then go subtly hit the comittee chairman over the head with a request for a LOR that matches my timetable, not theirs. Wish me luck.
As with the other words of wisdom posted on this thread already, do apply in June (“early”). You will be receiving secondary applications quickly after your AMCAS application is processed and verified. Your LORs are sent directly to the med schools once they request them from you.
I would be very careful about taking a heavy hand with the pre-med committee. You have no idea how many letters the chair of the committee has to write, how often the committee meets, nor the personnel and financial support it gets from its own institution in writing/processing these letters.
If your pre-med committee is part of the “Virtual Evals” program (initiated by Kay Singer at Duke, with many med schools participating in the electronic receiving of the rec letters), those letters will be at the med schools very quickly after they are written.
Some med schools definitely want the committee letter, others are less concerned.