Letters of Rec / 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 recommendation 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:
- Choose your recommenders carefully. 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.
- When asking for the letter, make an appointment to meet in person if at all possible. 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 Recommendation 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.
- Give your referees plenty of advance notice and time to write a good letter of recommendation (a month or even two). 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.
- Be sure to give your referees friendly reminders about your letter, but do not pester them. 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.
- Follow-up! Inform your writers when you have decided where you will be attending school and thank them again for their assistance and support.
You will be using Word Document: Guide Two: Letters of Recommendation and the veCollect Letter System to guide you through the process of setting up your veCollect account and requesting letters. 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.
The AMCAS Letter Service
The Pre-Prof. Office uploads your Committee Letter (with your initial set of individual recommendations) to your medical schools. Following that initial upload, this office does not upload individual letters of recommendation. If the situation arises where you would like an additional letter uploaded to either all of your schools, a subset, or a single school, you will do so by using the AMCAS Letter Service. The instructions for utilizing the AMCAS Letter Service can be found in the AMCAS Instruction Manual. You will need to pay special attention to the “Letters FAQ” and instructions for the “Letter Writer Application.”
The AMCAS application service does not provide an email notification to letter writers. Applicants are responsible for providing their letter authors with information on how letters can be sent to AMCAS.
Applicants should contact letter writers and supply them with the Letter Request Form. This form can be saved as a PDF and emailed, or can be printed and delivered to the letter writer.
The following AMCAS resources are available to assist letter writers and applicants with Letters of Evaluation: