Students applying to Optometry School hear it all the time, “make sure you have plenty of great letters of recommendation!!”
Did you know that the way you go about requesting a letter of recommendation has a huge impact on the quality of the letter?
Let me ask you your opinion… Which letter of recommendation would be of better quality?
an optometrist who you shadowed a few times in which you had to call up his/her practice a dozen times to request the letter?
an optometrist who loved you personality and passion so much that they handed you the letter before you had a chance to ask for it?
Well OptometryStudents.com is here to give you a step by step walk through of exactly how to get great Letters of Recommendation! These letters will truly help you shine and can make or break your admittance into Optometry school. Personally, I have had to obtain several Letters of Recommendation in my career as a student. It started upon my entrance into college, then into a Study Abroad Program, and of course for my admittance into Optometry School. The process has taken time, and although I was confused at first, I have now nailed the process down to an EXACT science that will work every time for you! I can only speak from my experiences, yet I think you will find them helpful.
WHY ARE LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION IMPORTANT?
Letters of recommendation are required for your Optometry School application, therefore they are a very important part of the application process.
Most schools require a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation.
When I submitted my application I had probably 7-8 letters of recommendation.
3 from professors who knew me very well (1 overseas professor)
3 from optometrists who I shadowed and who I worked for
1 from my optometry employer
1 from my pre-health adviser.
I figured, the more the better and this really paid off. Also the quality of these letters was outstanding, most of them where brief and to the point but packed a powerful punch! Keep in mind I did not ask for the letters to be written this way, by my actions brought about a letter of this caliber. Although you will have many other items of information to send in (resume, grades, volunteer work, and essays) it is your letters of recommendation that really convey who you are. These letters will strengthen your application and take the spotlight away from any deficiency’s in your applications.
It is in my opinion that the words of a intelligent and recognized human being have a strong influence over numbers like your GPA. Your grade numbers do not bring emotions like the detailed analysis of a respected individual like a teacher, researcher, specialist, doctor, or business owner!
HOW TO GET FLAWLESS LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION FOR OPTOMETRY SCHOOL
A step-by-step Guide
1. Set up a file with your school at Student Services- Tell your guidance counselor or Student Services center that you will be having recommendations sent to their office. Ask them to set up your file. All colleges have a this service because so many students need to send out their L.O.R’s to schools and other programs. When you need the letters to be sent to certain places, you will pay student services a very small fee, and they will send ORGANIZED, MULTIPLE COPIES to all the schools you apply to.
2. Think of potential writers of your recommendation- Begin thinking who you can have to write you letters of recommendation. This should be someone who knows you well and who has a high status of recognition. (Professor, Researcher, someone who has academically evaluated you, someone with an advanced degree who has personally observed you in a job or internship, someone of high status (ex. doctor) who you shadowed for many hours) As you interact with these people you will get a good idea if they will be able to write you a strong letter. KEEP IN MIND! Usually letters from family friends, and other similar people are discouraged and can end up doing more harm.
3. Establish a relationship with the potential writer and convey your personality- Once you know who you will be asking, have frequent discussions with them in order to convey your personality so that when they write the recommendation they can include the best information possible. Talk to this person frequently about their position and their career. Ask information they didn’t tell the whole class or didn’t display to all people. Come up with interesting questions that show you are a intelligent person. Show interest in them and what they specialize in. Be respectful and be honest with them during conversation and find out information that will actually benefit you in the future. You can ask for advice on what you can do with your future and your career. You letter of recommendation will be of much better quality if you acutally care about learning something from this person and not doing it to get their signature on a piece of paper and then never talking to them again.
The point is to build a relationship.
DO WELL IN THE COURSE AND BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE – getting a letter from a professor whose class you got a C+ in is NOT A GOOD IDEA!!
These individuals are usually busy so you must be able to convey your personality quickly and effectively. A) Talk with potential writer after class or when they have a free moment. B) Volunteer during class C) Go to your professors office hours to chat. D) Keep in touch via. e-mail.
4. Make sure you time it correctly-It is important to get the letter written at the best time possible. Find out when your writer is least busy and when they are NOT involved in giving exams. Be considerate and courteous of your letter writers time and workload, and approach them at least two months in advance of your request.
5. Know how to ask the BIG question!- When you meet the letter writer to ask the big question you will probably be nervous but don’t worry. Ask the professor or individual after class or when they are not busy, if you can see them at their office hours that is even better. Agree on a time that is good for both of you. Ask the person respectfully and honestly in a fashion SIMILAR to this “Professor, out of all the classes I have attended this year yours has been the most enlightening. I have learned so much new information and it has really helped me to grow. I really loved the course and the material taught, but most of all I enjoyed it because you taught it. I feel that you are a master of your craft and I would be honored if you could write me a STRONG letter of recommendation. I would want it to come from an individual who I look up to and who actually knows me well” – Something like that will totally work but don’t ask it this way if you do not feel this way. You are dealing with grown men and women and they understand body language, voice tone and subtle social ques so REALLY believe it if you are saying it!
6. Provide a *LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION KIT* for the writer- By providing your writer with ALL of the materials necessary to write the recommendation, they will be able to focus on their words about you. This will also show you are organized and take the matter seriously!
*Letter of Recommendation Kit*
Give a noticeable folder with your name on it containing the following items.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS / COMMENTS
WHAT AMOUNT OF LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION ARE NECESSARY FOR ME?
I AM NOT IN COLLEGE YET WHERE SHOULD I SEND MY L.O.R’s?
-If you are just applying to undergraduate college, your LOR’s will be given to you personally so that you can send them in with your application to the school. Usually these are the only letter’s you will personally deliver yourself.
Yet once in college, you will use THE COLLEGES SERVICES!
I DOUBT PROFESSORS WILL WANT TO WRITE ME LETTERS!!!
-Professors and other letter writers want to help you and are pleased to write on your behalf. They went through the same thing you did and will not hesitate to write you a letter if you earned it! It actually makes them happy that someone value’s their opinion, so don’t worry!
WHAT ARE SOME GOOD THINGS TO SAY TO BUILD A RELATIONSHIP?
-Good Question, but the key here is be honest and be yourself.
Some things I personally say are…
1. Professor, I am really enjoying your class and I found todays lecture quite interesting.
2. Professor, I am interested in this topic. I have done some reading in the text book, yet can you tell me some more details?
3. I have learned more from your course than any other. I can see myself perusing a career in this field.
4. I just want to let you know I apreciate all the knowledge you have given me. You have really helped me grow and I cannot thank you enough.
The key points are…
* Get to know the writer early and speak with them frequently.
* Convey your personality.
* Talk about the course work you are doing and what you think of it.
* Ask for future advice since they have been in your situation.
* Be friendly, non threatening, and shake hands upon meeting and leaving, always be respectful.
By the way!
I have personally kept in touch with all of my letter writers (usually via. email) because they are good people, they have helped me graciously and although I am only a student I would be there if they ever needed my help.
This is the type of mentality you need to have!
SHOULD THESE LETTERS BE CONFIDENTIAL?
-In general, optometry degree programs prefer confidential letters. Admissions officials say that it displays more confidence on the part of the applicant if letters are confidential (meaning you, the applicant cannot see the letter).
-When you give them information to write the letter there will be a form in which you check off if you want to keep it confidential. – I always do!
-You should only request letters of evaluation from individuals you are confident will give insight into you and your abilities and will be an advocate for you.
Ok so thats so really in depth detail about letters of Recommendation.
If anyone has any questions, just post a comment and we will get back to you ASAP!
Matt Geller SUNY 2013
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