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Not sure who to ask for my reference letters? Please help


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Hey everyone! I’m having a hard time deciding on who to ask for my 3rd reference letter. I’m asking 2 profs (one is my research supervisor and the other is my prof for a course I took last year). I knew that it’s best to have 2 academic and 1 non-academic but this is where I’m having a problem. I volunteered as a tutor in an organization for the first 2 years of my undergrad, in 3rd year I stopped because it no longer worked with my schedule (I’m now starting 4th yr). The individual who writes the reference letters for this organization wasn’t the one I actually worked with (that’s just the way the organization is set up). She just oversees everything but is always the one responsible for writing people reference letters. Because of the 1 year time gap and the fact that I didn’t have a lot of one-on-one interactions with her, is it bad to ask her for a reference letter? My alternative is asking a post-doc in my lab who I believe would say good things about me but it would mean that 2/3 references are from the exact same area (research) so it’ll probably be repetitive. Any advice?

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45 minutes ago, medschoolapp said:

Hey everyone! I’m having a hard time deciding on who to ask for my 3rd reference letter. I’m asking 2 profs (one is my research supervisor and the other is my prof for a course I took last year). I knew that it’s best to have 2 academic and 1 non-academic but this is where I’m having a problem. I volunteered as a tutor in an organization for the first 2 years of my undergrad, in 3rd year I stopped because it no longer worked with my schedule (I’m now starting 4th yr). The individual who writes the reference letters for this organization wasn’t the one I actually worked with (that’s just the way the organization is set up). She just oversees everything but is always the one responsible for writing people reference letters. Because of the 1 year time gap and the fact that I didn’t have a lot of one-on-one interactions with her, is it bad to ask her for a reference letter? My alternative is asking a post-doc in my lab who I believe would say good things about me but it would mean that 2/3 references are from the exact same area (research) so it’ll probably be repetitive. Any advice?

It's not an ideal situation but I would go with the volunteering letter. The only guideline on OMSAS is that: 

Quote

At least 1 referee should be a non-academic/character referee. Link

Is it possible to get in touch with the person you actually volunteered with for a reference letter? They should know you better over the 2 years. You can try Linkedin, Facebook, etc. to find them.
Otherwise, the worry is that all 3 reference letters from are from an academic setting and talk about academic qualities. If you go with the post-doc I'd really try to get him to stress your non-academic qualities and definitely give him a resume to talk about.
Also feeling your struggle with the reference letters, goodluck! :) 

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On 8/30/2018 at 12:10 PM, caramilk said:

It's not an ideal situation but I would go with the volunteering letter. The only guideline on OMSAS is that: 

Is it possible to get in touch with the person you actually volunteered with for a reference letter? They should know you better over the 2 years. You can try Linkedin, Facebook, etc. to find them.
Otherwise, the worry is that all 3 reference letters from are from an academic setting and talk about academic qualities. If you go with the post-doc I'd really try to get him to stress your non-academic qualities and definitely give him a resume to talk about.
Also feeling your struggle with the reference letters, goodluck! :) 

The issue isn't getting in touch with the person I volunteered with, it's that the organization is set-up so that the person leading the whole thing is always writing the reference letters and no one else :( 

I'm going to go with your advice and just ask for the volunteering letter. You're totally right in that the others would really just focus on my academic qualities. Thanks so much for your advice and best of luck to you too! 

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23 hours ago, medschoolapp said:

Sadly, yes :(

but how do you know this? Don't get me wrong, I'm not assuming I know better, but isn't the content of the letter more important whether it's academic or not. I know you need to have at least one academic, but where does it say it's better to have two? *starting to have a panic attack* :S

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1 hour ago, lauren666 said:

but how do you know this? Don't get me wrong, I'm not assuming I know better, but isn't the content of the letter more important whether it's academic or not. I know you need to have at least one academic, but where does it say it's better to have two? *starting to have a panic attack* :S

I misunderstood your initial question, my bad!! I thought you were asking about whether it really is better to have at least 1 non-academic and that’s what I was referring to. So to clarify: I did NOT read anywhere that it’s best to have 2 academic, I just read that at least 1 should be non-academic. Don’t worry about it!! You’ve got this! 

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13 hours ago, medschoolapp said:

I misunderstood your initial question, my bad!! I thought you were asking about whether it really is better to have at least 1 non-academic and that’s what I was referring to. So to clarify: I did NOT read anywhere that it’s best to have 2 academic, I just read that at least 1 should be non-academic. Don’t worry about it!! You’ve got this! 

no worries! In all honestly I feel like 2 academic would be the better option, but I'm just hoping there are some applicants who got in with just one...a girl can only dream haha..ha...ha..h..

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