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Choosing The Right Persons For Reference Letters


Who do you think is approproate?  

21 members have voted

  1. 1. Who do you think is approproate?

    • Recent Organic Chemistry Professor
    • Recent Ecology Professor
    • Spinal Surgeon (Vancouver General Hospital)
    • Canadian Senator
    • Former Employer (Engineer)
    • Grad Studies Supervisor (Head of Engineering Department)
    • Community Volunteer Coordinator (Canadian Blood Services)


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Hi,

 

As a non-traditional applicant, I am undecided as to who to choose for my 3 referees.

 

Quick facts about me: After my undergrad and masters (course-based), I worked as a building engineer for 4 years, then last year quit to take pre-requisite courses for med schools to apply for the 2016-17 cycle at UofT

 

Here are the options for referees:

1. Organic Chemistry Professor in a recently taken course with who I interacted frequently and know well

2. Ecology Professor in a recently taken course with who I interacted frequently and know well

3. A spinal surgeon and a renowned researcher - He leads a prominent research on comparative study on animals and I work there observing surgery and analyzing data. I've been working there as a volunteer for the past few months, but I don't frequently get a chance to know him as he is busy with other things although I do talk to him at times. 

4. A Canadian Senator with whom I know from volunteering at a local senior's home - I speak with this person at times who know me to a reasonable level, but not as close as the professors mentioned above. I'm not sure if there is any value in the fact that the person is a Senator.

5. Former employer who know me quite well (I worked there for 3 years). I am hesitant about this as this may be a bit too unrelated to the field of medicine.

6. My grad studies supervisor and head of engineering department: I did some research under him and he knows me very well and he would probably write the best reference in this list, but this was a long time ago (5 years ago), and again, not related to medicine.

7. Community Volunteer Coordinator from Canadian Blood Services: She told me she would write a reference, but I'm unsure of how well she would know me as the volunteers work at the clinics and she works in her office (so interaction is rare). I worked there for the past few months but I rarely get to see her. If I get a reference, I feel as though it would be quite generic.

 

Currently I am thinking of 1, 3, and 5. Thanks for reading and help in advance. All helpful comments are greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

 

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Additional things to think about/do:

1. Where these individuals impressed by you?

2. Ask them directly if they would be willing to write you a strong reference, stressing the importance that a reference plays in the admission process.

 

That is really a great point. Thanks for the precious advice.

 

What is your thought on...

Prominent referee but weaker reference vs not as prominent but strong reference?

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Always stronger reference. I don't really think much weight is given to prestige of the person writing the letter, particularly if the letter is weak. Also, you would 100% need to use your masters supervisor. Not doing so would definitely be a red flag in my opinion...

 

That sounds reasonable.

 

I think the masters supervisor reference is only required if you did a research-based masters. I did a course-based and confirmed from UofT that it is not necessary (correct me if you think otherwise).

 

That being said, I informed the person that I completed quite a bit of directed studies research during this course-based program and she confirmed that it would not hurt to hand it in, given that I describe in the "academic explanations" that my program indeed is course-based and the research done was additional to the courses.

 

So currently, I'm leaning towards submitting a CV, a letter from graduate supervisor (who supervised my directed studies), and attempt being treated as a grad student rather.

 

What are your thoughts Robclem21?

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That sounds reasonable.

 

I think the masters supervisor reference is only required if you did a research-based masters. I did a course-based and confirmed from UofT that it is not necessary (correct me if you think otherwise).

 

That being said, I informed the person that I completed quite a bit of directed studies research during this course-based program and she confirmed that it would not hurt to hand it in, given that I describe in the "academic explanations" that my program indeed is course-based and the research done was additional to the courses.

 

So currently, I'm leaning towards submitting a CV, a letter from graduate supervisor (who supervised my directed studies), and attempt being treated as a grad student rather.

 

What are your thoughts Robclem21?

 

I missed that your masters was course based. I dont think it would hurt (aside from the time commitment) to submit the graduate application. Worst case according to my understanding is that they just evaluate you as an undergraduate applicant. If they can give you a strong letter, I would consider using them anyway but if it makes no difference, pick your three strongest letters. They are worth a huge chunk of the application and need to be strong.

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I missed that your masters was course based. I dont think it would hurt (aside from the time commitment) to submit the graduate application. Worst case according to my understanding is that they just evaluate you as an undergraduate applicant. If they can give you a strong letter, I would consider using them anyway but if it makes no difference, pick your three strongest letters. They are worth a huge chunk of the application and need to be strong.

 

Yeah,

 

Honestly, I am not sure how much it will help to submit the graduate application because I don't have any paper published. But I feel like I did more than just courses and I don't think there is that much to lose as it will be my 4th letter (who I think would give a strong letter). Choosing the other three was what I was curious about when I posted.

 

I just really hope that doing this will not hurt me any way (for example accidentally getting counted as an research-based graduate with very little research work - accidentally).

 

Anyways thanks for all your helpful advice.

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Go with whoever knows you best, will be enthusiastic about writing you a STRONG letter of reference and will help illustrate CANMEDS roles in your letter.

 

Have different character attributes/CANMEDS roles highlighted in each of the LORs so that they come together to form a comprehensive picture of you.

 

Good luck!

 

EDIT: Use the information about LORs and clusters located on this page http://www.md.utoronto.ca/non-academic-requirements

 

Seriously, that's all you need!

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Yeah,

 

Honestly, I am not sure how much it will help to submit the graduate application because I don't have any paper published. But I feel like I did more than just courses and I don't think there is that much to lose as it will be my 4th letter (who I think would give a strong letter). Choosing the other three was what I was curious about when I posted.

 

I just really hope that doing this will not hurt me any way (for example accidentally getting counted as an research-based graduate with very little research work - accidentally).

 

Anyways thanks for all your helpful advice.

 

Ya I don't know that level of intricacy of how the applications are assessed. You would be best to contact the school for the type of question.

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Dont mean to hijack this thread, but how much do you guys think the length of your relationship with your reference person matters? I have a research supervisor who i started full time research with this summer, and i'd be continuong to work with her throughout the year, but by the application cycle i will have known her for less than a year. Does this really matter if she can write me a good ref?

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Dont mean to hijack this thread, but how much do you guys think the length of your relationship with your reference person matters? I have a research supervisor who i started full time research with this summer, and i'd be continuong to work with her throughout the year, but by the application cycle i will have known her for less than a year. Does this really matter if she can write me a good ref?

No. Not if they know you really well. It's about the letter they write. That's it and that's all. I only knew one of mine for a few months and got in (with a low GPA compared to most), but it was a really intensive summer job and I felt like they really understood my personality and work ethic enough

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