Letter of Recommendation
If you are requesting a letter of recommendation from a Gustavus faculty or other employee, you need to complete the online form. All pre-health applicants (MD, DO, PA, Dental, Pharmacy, PT, OT and Veterinary) need to complete the form to request letters.
How many Letters of Recommendation do I need?
Other common questions:
Develop a relationship and connect with your faculty and supervisors EARLY in your college career. It is important that you start building relationships early in your college career (freshman year). Waiting until your junior or senior year to start making connections will result in a forced and shallow relationship. Making a strong connection early on will allow potential letter-writers to get to know you on a personal level, witness your growth over a period of time and ultimately develop the basis for writing a more compelling letter.
Selecting who will write your letters is an important decision. While it is important who the letter writer is, it is equally important what the writer has to say. The writer needs to offer additional information to complete and complement what you have already shared through your application materials. Do not select a writer simply because they hold an important position, "like you" or you "like them." Rather, select a writer that has a basis (evidence) for being able to write a letter that can make a strong case for the strengths you exhibit. Have a balanced approach to selecting your writers; select writers that know you from different areas to give the selection committee a well rounded look at you as an applicant.
How many writers do I need? Click here for a list of general guidelines for particular health profession programs
When asking for a letter, make an appointment to meet in person (if at all possible).
Before designating your writers, schedule an appointment with each potential writers to let them know why you want to go into this particular health field and explain to them why you think their perspective of you as an individual will best support yours application. Be sure to share when the letter is needed, and ask if they would be able and willing to write a strong letter of recommendation.
Give letter writers plenty of advance notice, recommended (a month or even two).
Make sure that your writer knows your timeline for applying and when you are hoping to have their letter submitted.
Allow the person the option of saying NO. You need a strong letter and if the person is hesitant or uncomfortable or does not have enough time, you will NOT get a strong letter. Most likely it will be generic, short and weak. LISTEN to what the person is telling you. It is much better to have them be honest and to avoid a weak letter, so that you can identify someone different to write you a strong letter.
- Complete the Gustavus Letter of Recommendation Online Form
- During the Centralized Application process print off or email the Letter Request Form to your letter writers with directions and information about how to upload and submit the letter.
- For Medical School Applicants: AAMC Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation
- Friendly reminders about your letter are helpful, but do not pester/annoy them. Interpersonal interactions and effective communication skills are things that your writer will most likely be referencing.
Waiving your right to access the letter
Highly recommended you waive your right to access the reference letter. If you mark, "I do NOT waive my right to access this reference letter," the person writing the reference will know that you will be able to view the letter. Waiving your right indicates to programs that your reference will be more honest and candid in their remarks. If you choose to NOT waive your right, you may be asked to explain your decision during interview(s).
Write a thank you note to each letter writer.
Email, call or stop by and let your writers know when you get accepted and where you have decided to attend school and thank them again for their assistance, support, encouragement and overall effort.
Gustavus does not have a pre-health committee or pre-health advisor that writes a committee letter. Three different types of letters can be sent to AMCAS; at Gustavus the method used is an individual letter written by one author. Below is a description of the types of letters that can be forwarded to AMCAS on your behalf.
Individual Letter: An individual letter refers to a letter authored by, and representing, a single letter writer. (Method at Gustavus- Individual Letter. Typically one science faculty, one non-science faculty, and one "other").
Committee Letter: A committee letter is a letter authored by a pre-health committee or pre-health advisor and intended to represent your institution's evaluation of you. A committee letter may or may not include additional letters written in support of your application.
Letter Packet: A packet or set of letters assembled and distributed by your institution, often by the institutions career center. A Letter Packet may include a cover sheet from your pre-health committee or advisor; however, in contrast to a Committee Letter, a Letter Packet does not include an evaluative letter from your pre-health committee or advisor.
Updated 6/24/2014 HB