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Grades and test scores only provide part of the candidate's information. Letters of evaluation give admissions committee members objective information regarding the candidate's characteristics and abilities. Admissions committees are also interested in applicants who possess qualities outside of academics. These additional qualities may include leadership ability, integrity, decisiveness, professionalism, and an ability to show compassion.
Note: Letters of evaluation (LOEs) and letters of recommendation (LORs) are synonymous terms. Application services (CAS) are increasingly using the term letters of evaluation because evaluators may or may not recommend the applicant to the school.
Many students wait until the last minute to ask evaluators for a letter of evaluation. However, obtaining letters of evaluation should start early in your academic career. As you take classes, shadow health professionals, and become involved in extracurricular activities, be sure to identify professors, health professionals, and supervisors you want to write an evaluation.
Build professional relationships with potential evaluators as you work on assignments or projects. Seek opportunities to interact with these individuals. Get to know them and let them know of your desire to attend professional school. Give evaluators at least a one month notice and provide a deadline date for when the letter needs to be completed. Provide evaluators with the following documents to aid them in writing a strong letter of recommendation.
Professional schools vary in what types of evaluations are required. The number of evaluations required also varies. Generally, professional schools require 3-8 letters of evaluation.
At least one should be written by a professor (normally science). It is advisable to choose a professor who taught a class you did well in. The evaluation from the professor should speak of your ability to succeed academically in a health profession school curriculum along with other characteristics the evaluator would like to address. Develop a relationship with the professor early and take multiple classes from the professor; this will greatly enhance their ability to write a favorable letter of evaluation. It is appropriate to ask potential evaluators if they feel they know you well enough to write a favorable letter of evaluation. If they do not feel comfortable, thank them and ask another professor who would feel comfortable.
Another evaluation is usually written by a professional in the field for which you are applying. The professional should be able to address your future success in the field. Ask a health professional you have shadowed multiple times and with whom you have developed a professional relationship.
Many schools leave the other evaluations open to whoever the student would like. This could be a supervisor from a company you work for or organizations you have been involved with. This letter is particularly helpful in providing admissions committees with more information about your character and other non-academic attributes.
For most health profession applications, letters of evaluation are submitted electronically through the centralized application service. After you register for the application service, you will enter your evaluators' names and information. An email will be sent to evaluators with instructions on how to submit their letter. However, some schools may require you to send LOEs directly to them. Both the CAS systems and individual schools allow evaluators to send them through the mail if desired. BYU-Idaho offers a letter of evaluation service.