Letters of Recommendation
As with all letters of recommendation, you need to very explicitly inform your recommenders as to where, when, and what to submit on your behalf. It is easiest for OptomCAS submissions to have available as you write your OptomCAS application the following information about your LOR writers: name, email, and phone. Let your LOR writers know they will receive an email automatically sent to him/her as you enter that information.
An important part of the documentation to support an application for admission to medical school is the evaluation of your performance in an activity that was directly observed by the letter writer. This is often referred to as a letter of recommendation. Information about what each program of optometry is seeking in terms of who should write a LOR may be found here.
Here are some tips concerning LORs:
- Faculty instructors and (non-family member) optometrists provide the most useful recommendations for optometry school. The authors should know you well and be able to comment on your work ethic and commitment to optometry, as well as report on your performance in the position for which they supervised or you.
- Select letter writers that know you and your work ethic or personal philosophy – this is probably the most important factor since they are not likely to comment on important characteristics if they are not aware of your merits.
- Select letter writers who are established and have some seniority with their institution or facility (faculty instructors, not teaching assistants; optometrist, not receptionist).
- Inform your letter writers about yourself and what information you feel is particularly needed in a letter of recommendation. You should provide them with a current resume and let them know that you are, for instance, looking for a letter that will speak to your ability to function in a professional optometric settings.
- Letters from family friends, public officials or character-type references are usually not useful and should not be solicited unless explicitly requested by the optometry school.
- For most schools 2 evaluation letters from science faculty who taught you in a course, 1 from a non-science college instructor, and 1-2 letters from ODs should be enough. Some schools will specify exactly how many and from what type of authors and you should, of course, provide exactly what they request.
- Check periodically to make sure that your letter writers have submitted their letters. If not, you are encouraged to send polite reminder emails to the authors who did agree to provide a letter with a clearly indicated due date that you specified. The departmental staff should have your letters in your file NO LESS than two weeks before they are due (remember, you specify the due date). You are in control of the due date and we recommend that the entire application package be completed no later than August 31 (or before the start of fall semester).
- Another important strategy in regards to recommendation letters is to have them prepared ahead of time. In general, all aspects of applying to medical school should be done early in the application cycle, not later (applications may be submitted on July 1 of each year). For example, try to involve a few letter writers in the review of your entire application in the spring of your junior year (or the year that you begin the application). This will help establish a relationship and they will be more prepared to write a favorable and detailed recommendation letter. The sooner the better for those letters.