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Requesting a Composite Letter of Recommendation

The letter of recommendation written by the Pre-Health Sciences Advising Team on an applicant’s behalf is often called a composite or committee letter. The letter is referred to as a “composite” because it incorporates information from several different sources (i.e., the individual letters of recommendations, biographical information). Composite letters are preferred by medical and dental schools, and accepted by some veterinary, optometry and other health professional schools.

One member of the advising team prepares a draft recommendation, drawing on information provided by the student, letters of recommendation submitted on behalf of the student, and knowledge gained from personal interactions the advisors may have had with the student. The letter discusses the applicant’s academic abilities, personal qualities, and clinical experience.  In addition, it allows us to address any anomalies in the applicant’s candidacy and to give the admission committee a clearer understanding of the candidate in the context of other PLU students. The draft is reviewed, discussed, revised, and finally approved by the group as the recommendation of PLU Pre-Health Sciences.

In order for the Pre-Health Sciences Advising Team to begin your composite letter of recommendation, we need to have received the following:

  • Completed Biographical Information Form
  • Individual Letters of Recommendations

Biographical Information Form

This electronic form gives the Pre-Health Sciences Advising Team authorization to write you a letter of recommendation. It also provides pertinent information that we’ll incorporate into the letter. In order to give the advisors enough time to do their best work, please submit the completed form to the Pre-Health Sciences Advising Coordinator no later than May 1st.

The form can be found at this link. If you are a PLU alumnus/a  and your PLU email address has expired, please contact Dr. Matt Smith at smithmf@plu.edu and he will send you a link.

Requesting Individual Letters of Recommendation

Click here to download the request/waiver form that you provide to each person from whom you are requesting a letter of recommendation. Typically, letter writers are faculty, work supervisors, and professionals in your intended field who know you well. Signed and dated letters, using stationery with a personal or professional letterhead, are to be mailed or emailed directly to Pre-Health Sciences Advising Coordinator by the letter-writer. Do not include any letters with your application materials; we will not use them.

By early spring, please request letters from your recommenders, and mention to each recommender that the letter needs to be mailed and received by Pre-Health Sciences Advising in early summer. Even if you are taking a summer course, performing a job-shadow, or holding a summer internship or research position with a potential recommender, it will be helpful for her/him to know early that you are requesting a letter, and it will expedite the Pre-Health Sciences Advising Team’s work on your behalf if the letter is received at as early as possible.