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How to get an academic letter of reference (Non-traditional)


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After 3 unsuccessful years of applying to only one school that didn't require letters of references, I recognize I've shot myself in the foot by not being more proactive throughout undergrad and making myself a strong applicant in other aspects besides achieving a decent GPA/MCAT. I understand that I made a mistake not applying broadly in the past but I've accepted that I'm in this for the long haul and want to take the right steps moving forward. Any recommendations on what steps to take in regards to finding someone from the academic setting to write me a good letter of recommendation? I foolishly did not make an effort to get to know my profs and have not worked under any as I have no research experience. When I wasn't studying I was working and volunteering so I have options getting letters in those areas but it seems a lot of schools want one from a science professor or lecturer. For context I graduated with a BSc. in 2019 (3.9-4.0 GPA, 511 MCAT)

Would It be appropriate to email old profs whose classes I did exceptionally well in, and offer them some sort of volunteering service for their research in return for a letter? or is that too much? Any tips would be great and I'm willing to do whatever it takes. I understand I may need to go back to school and meet profs but that wouldn't help for this upcoming application cycle.

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I wouldn't approach a prof by saying you'd do lab volunteering if they give you a letter. Not a good idea. But if you want to reach out and do work with them then sure. And then later you ask for a letter. Also, take a look at the OMSAS website. It says letters have to be from 1. Academic or employment-related 2. Non academic 3. Any of your choosing. So you might not technically need a professor to write you a letter. I might be wrong but thats what the website shows. Best to email OMSAS or specific schools to clear that out 

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1 hour ago, premed72 said:

I wouldn't approach a prof by saying you'd do lab volunteering if they give you a letter. Not a good idea. But if you want to reach out and do work with them then sure. And then later you ask for a letter. Also, take a look at the OMSAS website. It says letters have to be from 1. Academic or employment-related 2. Non academic 3. Any of your choosing. So you might not technically need a professor to write you a letter. I might be wrong but thats what the website shows. Best to email OMSAS or specific schools to clear that out 

I understand yeah its definitely a desperate approach.. I was only thinking of doing that because I was going to take my chances and throw a hail mary late application to Ireland for fall 2021 entry but they would want at least one academic reference letter as soon as possible. Even if I plan for a fall 2022 entry though, i'm not sure how ill be able to find some letters of recommendation for USMD/USDO schools if I were to apply for those this summer, any ideas? and I do plan on applying to OMSAS but with my 511 MCAT (126 CARS) I probably stand a better chance in some low tier American school than I do Ontario. Regardless of my chances or the differing requirements, at this point just I want to put myself in a position to be able to apply as broadly as possible.

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Email the profs you did exceptionally well in or that you had multiple times, include your grades/papers you completed in their course, your CV, and a personal statement because they won't remember you. Say that since graduating you are considering medicine, and would be honoured if they could write you a LOR as your biochem prof or whatever, based on your performance in their class. You understand that they don't know you and can't write about you beyond your performance in their class, and that is ok. Hopefully at least one or two will accept.

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14 hours ago, bearded frog said:

Email the profs you did exceptionally well in or that you had multiple times, include your grades/papers you completed in their course, your CV, and a personal statement because they won't remember you. Say that since graduating you are considering medicine, and would be honoured if they could write you a LOR as your biochem prof or whatever, based on your performance in their class. You understand that they don't know you and can't write about you beyond your performance in their class, and that is ok. Hopefully at least one or two will accept.

Seems like a good way to approach it, ill try that and see if anyone bites. Thanks alot for your response!

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Email the profs in the class you got an A in. A lot of science profs write letters for their students and are used to being asked by students so it won't be weird at all. They will probably ask you to send them your CV so they can include points from that into their letter. I did this last year as well. It was literally the first time I had talked to that prof in like four years lol.

 

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The above advice here is all good, but I just wanted to confirm that you do not need a reference letter from a prof! I didn't, and I was completely fine. As mentioned, it just has to be academic or employment related so it could be a boss at work, someone academic-related who is not a prof, etc. There are lots of options for this category, not just profs

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