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jessbrod

Did you ask to receive a copy of your LOR?

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I would like to ask my references to send me a copy of their LOR's, but I'm afraid it is not proper etiquette. Is this a permissible thing to do?

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It's not as bad as NOT checking "I waive my right to review" on CASPA--that's the real application killer.

 

A reference can always *send* you a different LOR than the one they submitted, so they can lie to you if they want, but if they write an LOR knowing that you can see it in the future, then that's a different matter.

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I didn't ask for mine, however two of my three recommendations sent me a copy on their own.  The third did not, but I never asked.  Best of luck!

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In the strictest of legal senses, that waiver you sign has nothing to do with CASPA - its a federal regulation. If you checked that you "waive your rights" to the letter when it was written, then you actually are not allowed to ask for a copy by law. The reference can volunteer to give one to you, but you cannot request it as that right to do so has been waived. If you choose not to waive your rights, you have the legal right to request a copy.

 

Whether you would consider asking or not from an etiquette level would depend on your relationship with your reference. In general, requesting to see the letter indicates that you are not confident in their ability to reccomend you.

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I would not ask.  But if you're close with your writer, you might pull them aside and ask a few general questions about themes or characteristics they might comment on--just seeking advice and/or feedback about your performance.  You might preface that by simply pointing out you are trying to construct a narrative for various adcoms, and you'd like to put together a consistent story/picture of who you are as an applicant.  If your writer can point out some of your strengths and weaknesses in a conversation, I bet you'll get a sense for how the letter reads.  But I think that trust and respect needs to be there (which means you would not ask if they do not offer).  If you have any hesitation about a writer (anything whatsoever), do not use them, and find someone you're confident in.  It doesn't have to be the president of Harvard medical school or Patch Adams or the surgeon general--just someone who can say something insightful about you in a way that supports your overall application.  Good luck.  

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Devil's advocate: if a) your LORs have already been submitted AND b) you don't care at all about what might happen to your relationship with your reviewer if he or she is offended or annoyed by the request (hard to know in advance), then you might not have anything to lose by asking.  Just an alternative thought...

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It's not as bad as NOT checking "I waive my right to review" on CASPA--that's the real application killer.

 

A reference can always *send* you a different LOR than the one they submitted, so they can lie to you if they want, but if they write an LOR knowing that you can see it in the future, then that's a different matter.

I did not check that box when I applied...and still got in!

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I think it depends on the adcom. I know some who have said straight out that they toss the letters in the garbage if the waiver is not checked, while others are more neutral towards this. I think the advice of "always waive!" comes from the fact that the first type of adcom exists. Why take the chance your adcom is the one who will trash the LOR for that reason? I also know that quite a few references out there won't complete the reference unless you waive your rights, which also plays into this advice.

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Just make sure that you only ask for LORs from people that you know will write a good one.  Try asking them if they think they can write a positive LOR for you. If they say yes then proceed. But it seems you may be past this point. 

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