Undergraduate Studies

Health Professions: Suggestions for obtaining letters of recommendation

1. Preprofessional folders are available in the Center for Pre-Professional Advising (YONG 828).

2. Read and sign the Preprofessional Agreement. Submit the signed, completed form of the Preprofessional Agreement to the Office of Health Professions Advising by the deadline date. This creates your preprofessional file.

3. There are two kinds of evaluations. Academic Evaluations should come from professors who have taught you in a class. Personal Evaluations may come from employers, advisors, coaches, ministers, or anyone who knows you well.

4. You will need two kinds of academic evaluations. Science evaluations should come from faculty who have taught you in science subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math, Engineering, Pharmacy, Food Science and Agriculture. Non-science evaluations should come from faculty who have taught you in subjects such as English, History, Sociology, Psychology, etc.

5. Students who choose to use the preprofessional file service provided by the Biology Department will be required to forward all letters contained in their file to every medical school to which they apply.

6. It is not a good idea to provide professional schools with more letters than they request. For this reason we recommend students have four (4) letters sent to the Health Professions Advising Office. Exceptions may be made.

7. Recommended composition of preprofessional file: a) two evaluations from science faculty; b) one evaluation from a non-science faculty member; c) one personal letter.

8. If you are applying to Indiana University School of Medicine, you will need to have a form filled out by the Office of the Dean of Students. This form will be sent to you with a packet of recommendation forms after your AMCAS application has been received. Disregard the Evaluation forms (Indiana University will accept our recommendation forms) but save the form that says "Dean of Students" across the top. Take this form to the Office of the Dean of Students, along with the return envelope provided by Indiana University, and request the Dean of Studentsí Office to send the completed recommendation form directly to Indiana University School of Medicine.

9. In general, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with those faculty members from whom you request recommendations. Prepare for the appointment by creating a resume, activity sheet, or list of your notable accomplishments. Have a copy of your transcript to leave with the professor. Ask the professor if he/she wants any other information about you and be quick and eager to provide it.

10. You should not ask for a letter from a faculty member who does not know you well. If you do not know a faculty member very well, it is unlikely that he/she can provide the medical school with the information they are seeking from the letters of evaluation.

11. Many students effectively waste one of their letters of recommendation because they do not know any non-science faculty members. Plan ahead! Take a liberal arts (aesthetics, history, literature) or social science (political science, sociology, psychology, economics) course that is not an introductory level course. Three and four hundred level courses are usually smaller (you may have an opportunity to get to know your professor). In addition, three and four hundred level courses can be more interesting and will add breadth and depth to your undergraduate education.

12. You may want to take an upper level English course. Seventy-seven (77) medical schools have an English requirement. The most common requirement is six (6) hours or two (2) courses. English 103 alone will not meet this requirement. An English professor would be a good choice for a letter of recommendation!

13. Some medical schools may require more than the four letters that will be in your file. Additional letters may be obtained as you need them. See the Center for Pre-Professional Advising to discuss the best way to handle these additional letters if you need them.

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