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Asking TA for Med-School LOR

  1. Mar 2, 2012 #1
    I am a second year graduate student at a large research university. I am a Ph.D. student, but I have not yet taken quals. My field of research is Physics Education. Last semester I TA'd a studio-based introductory course of about 81 students (the first semester algebra-based course that pre-meds take), which I was not the instructor on record. The studio-based method allows for much interaction and very little lecture, so the duties of a TA vs. a professor are essentially the same. A student from this course has approached me and asked if I will write them a letter of recommendation for medical school. The student was very good and I would have no trouble writing a good LOR for them, but should I? I have advised the student that it would most likely be better to get a LOR from a professor whose reputation would far exceed mine. Should I write the letter and just have the professor on record co-sign? I am really not sure if a LOR from a TA would hold up very well against other applicants. Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2012 #2
    I taught recitations as a TA. One of the brighter and enthusiastic students approached me to write a scholarship recommendation.

    I declined it firmly as (in my opinion) it would have done her no good. I am just a senior undergraduate.
  4. Mar 3, 2012 #3


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    Likely a letter of reference from a TA isn't going to count for much, but sometimes there's a context issue to consider. Say for example this pre-med student needs three reference letters. She already has one glowing recommendation from a physician that she has done volunteer work with for the last three years and one from an organic chemistry professor that she's published a paper with several years ago. She needs a third one to fill in the blank and you're the one she's most comfortable asking.

    In my opinion, it's best to let the student worry about that kind of thing - provided you have not misrepresented yourself.

    Then make a decision on whether or not to write the letter on other factors such as your actual opinion of the student and the time you need to do it.
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