How to Obtain Letters of Recommendations in Online Classes?

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OPM 247: How to Obtain Letters of Recommendations in Online Classes?

Session 247

Is it appropriate to ask for letters of recommendation from your online science professors? How do you ask for it in a way that you’re not “bothering” them?

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Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:02] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“Hey everyone!  I just started my postbac this semester and to put it lightly, COVID has put a damper on things, specifically the letters of rec portion. I know most schools want a letter of recommendation from a science professor. But I know, in order to get one, you have to get to know your professors a lot. 

All of our classes are online including office hours. I was thinking I could attend office hours but I’m not sure how to bring up the LOR part or even what to talk about? I don’t want any of them to think that I’m just using them for a letter of recommendation. Any advice would be great!”

[01:37] Make the First Step

'This is a super common issue COVID or not. There is fear and doubt around asking a professor for a letter of recommendation.'Click To Tweet

Professors are used to being asked for letters of recommendation, especially science professors and those teaching classes. Whether you’re premed, pre-PA, predent, all those students are going to likely be asking for letters of recommendation.

You need to get it out of your head that you’re bothering the professor. Yes, you are bothering them. But that’s their job to be there to support you. And part of that support is being there to answer your questions and office hours as well as writing a letter of recommendation for you.

Now, it’s still up to them to decide if they want to write a letter of recommendation for you. That depends on whether they know enough about you and if you’ve connected enough with them.

[02:44] How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

The first step is on you. You need to show up during office hours. Show up as much as you can. Make it known to this person that you are there. Don’t bring up the request for a letter of recommendation during office hours. That would be a little awkward if you’re saying that when there are other people in the virtual class around you.

Give them the opportunity to reply privately. It’s not the best scenario being online. But tell your professor that you’re going to hopefully want and need a letter of recommendation from them when the time comes.

Then ask what their process for this is generally like. Tell them what they can expect from you. And that they can expect you to show up at every class and during office hours. Tell them you’re not doing it just for the letter of recommendation, but because you really want to engage and learn as much as possible.

Lay out your expectations. Find out what their expectations are. Then move forward and don’t feel guilty about “bothering” them. Anyway, they’re going to let you know what could make a better letter of recommendation or if they don’t have time to write letters because everyone is cramped for time right now.

'Let them give you the information you're going to need to make the decision on whether or not a letter of recommendation is going to be appropriate from that professor.'Click To Tweet


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