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Reference Letter Diversity

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How ill-advised is to have all your 3 OMSAS referees be from your academic and work places? My three referees are 1) 4th year thesis supervisor   2) Professor that I TA'd with and attended class      3) clinical research work supervisor at hospital (maybe)

Should this be good or should I replace one of them with a referee based on my ECs/personal hobbies/advocacy initiatives? (although they will know me less than my selected 3?)

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I think reference letters should speak to your overall quality as a candidate. There are some traits relevant to one's candidacy that are unlikely to be displayed in academic enivronmnents (e.g. U of T's 'advocate' cluster; so, things like community service, compassion, advocacy). It's definitely possible that academic referees could speak to these qualities, but it's easier to see how these qualities would come up during ECs involving community service or something along those lines.

Personally, I'd be willing to sacrifice a bit of 'reference letter quality' to have a good breadth of competencies covered in my references. Especially because even if you switch one reference to an EC role, you still have 2 solid academic references - would the 3rd academic reference really have said that much that the other two haven't already covered? 

That said, that's just my two cents. Additionally, trading off reference letter quality for breadth is only a good idea up to a point- if the EC reference would be a lot weaker then perhaps the tradeoff isn't worth it. It's a tough call, but I'd lean towards diversifying your references unless the non-academic reference would truly be a lot weaker.

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I personally only had 1 academic LOR and the other 2 were professional/personal LORs. I would advise that you have at least one writer that knows you well enough to comment on certain personality traits. Just make sure you can cover personal/professional/academic traits through all 3 references.

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