Letters of Recommendation and veCollect
Letters of recommendation are a critical element in the health professions application process. Schools value the perspectives of people who have observed your work and can speak to your abilities and personality. You can begin requesting letters of recommendation at any time after you create your veCollect account.
Your veCollect Account
veCollect is an online letter of recommend-ation system that enables you to manage your letters of recommendation including requesting them, verifying that they have been received, and letting the Pre-Professional Office know that they are ready to be transmitted to the medical schools. The system has a built in means of allowing you to waive your right to inspect the contents of letters of recommendation written on your behalf. In using this service, recommendation writers submit letters of evaluation (on letterhead with their signature) electronically to veCollect. The process for electronic submission of letters is through email attachment of the letter in .pdf, .doc, or .docx format. Students have to be in their junior year or beyond to set up a veCollect account and it exists for one year after the point you are accepted to medical or dental school.
Requesting Letters of Recommendation
You should only ask faculty or others who know you well to write a more substantial and helpful letter. Realize that there is no rush, as faculty with whom you are currently taking a course or people you are currently working with can be asked closer to the time you apply. Here are some tips about getting letters of recommendation:
- . Generally, you should aim to have between four to six letters of recommendation. As a general rule, we recommend two recommendations from science or math faculty or, as a substitute, a science faculty member who supervised your laboratory work. It is also recommended that one be from a faculty member outside of the sciences. Others who may write useful letters include a research advisor, faculty advisor, athletic coach, supervisor of a campus or summer job, and a volunteer supervisor. Letters from graduate student instructors are acceptable but letters from faculty tend to carry more weight.
- . Take your resume and transcript and papers which you have written for the instructor (preferably the copies which contain their comments) with you and be prepared to talk about your future goals and past achievements. If an individual agrees to write on your behalf, present him/her with the Recommendation Waiver on the Forms Website. It is preferable that the letter and Recommmendation Waiver be sent by email to the Office.
- Make sure that you allow the person the option of saying NO. You want to have strong letters and if a person is somewhat uncomfortable writing for you or doesn’t have enough time, it is likely that the result will be short and weak. It is much better to have someone be honest with you at the start, so that you can find another evaluator who will be more enthusiastic. Determine this by asking the person if s/he feels comfortable writing a strong letter for you.
- . Make sure that your writers know that we need to have your letters by mid-June. It is up to you how you motivate your recommended to submit your recommendation.
- . Remember they will be writing a letter reflecting on many aspects of you—which includes behavior and interpersonal interactions!
- Write a thank you note to each recommender for taking the time to write you a letter in support of your candidacy.
You will be using Guide Two: Letters of Recommendation and the veCollect Letter System to guide you through the process of setting up your veCollect account and requesting letterse. This includes answers to such questions as
- Who is eligible?
- What is the cost?
- How do I register for veCollect?
- How many recommendations do I need and from whom?
- When/how should I ask for letters of recommendations?
- How does it work?
- How does the veCollect letter system work?
- Once I have an account, how do I enter information on my evaluators (your letter writers)?
- What do I do if one of my evaluators chooses not to use veCollect?
- How will I know that letters have arrived?
- When it is time to apply, how do I notify the Pre-Prof. Office?
It is critical that you are professional throughout this process, particularly in how you approach, provide information to, and express appreciation for the efforts of those faculty and others who are writing recommendations on your behalf. The veCollect Student Manual provides suggestions on how to request letters of recommendation.