Evaluations (Letters of Reference)

VMCAS STRONGLY recommends that applicants get S.E.T. for verification by August 15th! The E in S.E.T. stands for: Evaluations – Have all THREE of your required evaluations listed on the application. VMCAS will not accept late application materials.

 

 Helpful Hints:

  • All evaluations on the VMCAS application system must be submitted via the electronic reference portal by 11:59 PM EST, September 15, 2016.
  • Check to be sure those selected to be your reference are willing to provide a reference before entering their contact information on the application. As soon as the information is saved, an e-mail request is automatically sent.
  • All evaluations submitted to VMCAS are sent to ALL of your designated Colleges of Veterinary Medicine. Thus, they should not make references to specific programs.
  • If you choose not to waive your right of access to the evaluation, you won’t be able to see the evaluation until you are admitted and enrolled into a College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Any evaluator which is listed as “Requested” can be deleted and replaced. Under certain circumstances a reference listed as “Accepted” can be deleted. To have an “Accepted” reference removed, please contact VMCAS.
  • We strongly encourage you to enter your evaluator information early in the application process to expedite their receipt of the evaluation request.
  • If your references have questions, encourage them to contact VMCAS directly- we are happy to help them use our reference portal!

All evaluations must be submitted to VMCAS electronically. In this section, please enter information for a minimum of THREE (3) references, and up to a maximum of SIX (6) references.  VMCAS is not responsible for verifying an evaluator’s identity. If a discrepancy is found, VMCAS reserves the right to contact the applicant or evaluator to investigate. VMCAS reserves the right to share the discrepancy without comment to all VMCAS programs.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Research Veterinary Program Requirements
  • Determine what requirements, if any, your veterinary programs have regarding references’ roles or relationship to you BEFORE listing evaluators on your VMCAS application. Many programs have strict guidelines, and once a reference is completed on the VMCAS application, it CANNOT be removed or replaced. Please note that references from family members are generally frowned upon by admissions offices.
Prepare Your Evaluators
  • Confirm that the individual is willing to provide a letter of reference on your behalf.
  • Let him/her know to look for an e-mail from vmcasinfo@vmcas.org with the subject line “VMCAS Evaluation Request”.
  • Discuss the VMCAS deadline date with your evaluator, and be sure that he/she understands that evaluations MUST be received by September 15th, 2016 at 11:59pm EST. VMCAS strongly recommends that references submit their letters well in advance of this deadline in case there are any unanticipated difficulties.
  • If your evaluator is not located in the Eastern time zone, use the Deadline Time Zone Chart (http://aavmc.org/deadlines.aspx) to help them determine the deadline in their time zone.

WHAT INFORMATION DO MY REFERENCES COMPLETE?

There are three parts to a VMCAS reference:

  • “My Profile” where references fill out their contact information in case a school would like to get in touch with them. They can also correct any errors to the name or title that may have been entered by the applicant.
  • A ratings portion in which your reference evaluates you on a scale of 1–5 in regards to several different criteria.
  • An open letter of recommendation which may be uploaded in .PDF, .RTF, .DOC, or .DOCX format. Please note the file size limit for letters is 5 MB. Because all letters of reference are sent to each school the applicant applies to, evaluators should be vague in their form of address (Using “to whom it may concern,” etc.) and avoid referring to any particular veterinary school or program in their letter.

HOW TO SUBMIT A LETTER OF REFERENCE

1. On the “Evaluations” page, click the blue “Create Evaluation Request” button to add a reference.

2. Enter full name and e-mail address into the system, and assign a deadline by which you would like this reference completed. We encourage applicants to select a date which is at least four weeks in advance of the VMCAS deadline. You may also write them a personal message, which is optional.

3. Select your waiver decision (please see more information on waivers below) and check the permissions release boxes.

3. ONCE THIS INFORMATION IS SAVED, AN E-MAIL IS IMMEDIATELY SENT TO THE REFERENCE. Please advise your references to monitor their junk e-mail and spam folders for messages from “vmcasinfo@vmcas.org,” subject heading “Evaluation Request Submitted,” as these e-mails are automated and therefore sometimes filtered as spam. Reach out to your references and confirm that they have received the email notification.

4. The e-mail sent to the reference includes a link to the Evaluator Portal where they can create an account and set up their own username and password. The reference will log into this site and see your name under the heading “Open Evaluations.” Your reference will click either “ACCEPT” or “DECLINE” to accept or decline your request. If they select decline, you will receive an email notification.

5. Once your reference has accepted your request, your name will become a clickable link. Upon clicking on your name, they will be asked to complete a ratings grid, and upload an open letter of reference in .PDF, .RTF, .DOC, or .DOCX format. Please note the file size limit for letters is 5 MB.

5. Once they have completed their reference, they must click “SUBMIT EVALUATION” to send it to VMCAS. This action occurs immediately, and the evaluation will show up as “completed” on your application with a complete date. Your reference can also click “Preview Evaluation” to create a .pdf copy which they can save for their records.

6. Monitor your evaluations’ statuses in the Status Menu of your application. Follow up with any references which still read as “Requested” or “In-Progress.”

NOTE: NO PAPER LETTERS OR FORMS SHOULD BE MAILED TO VMCAS. Evaluations must be completed & submitted entirely online.

WAIVING YOUR RIGHTS VS. NOT WAIVING YOUR RIGHTS

When you enter a reference, you are asked if you wish to “WAIVE” or “NOT TO WAIVE” your right to view the reference. This waiver is not a creation of VMCAS, but is part of U.S. Federal Law and must be filled out for any letter of reference, including those you may have obtained to attend your undergraduate institution.

Please review the information below before making your decision. Once a decision is made, it CANNOT be changed.

 ”YES, I Waive My Right”

Selecting “YES” indicates to the school that your evaluator wrote their letter of recommendation with the understanding that you would never be allowed to view it. If you select this option, you will never see the content of your letter. However, programs may view this type of letter as a more accurate representation of an applicant’s qualifications.

“NO, I Do Not Waive My Right”

Selecting “NO” indicates to the school that your evaluator wrote their reference with the understanding that you may choose to view it in the future. Please note, however, that checking this option will NOT allow you to view your reference via VMCAS. If you have not waived the right to view your reference, you may ask your reference for a copy of their recommendation, or, once you matriculate into a veterinary program, you may ask to view the reference in their offices. However, programs may view this type of letter as a less accurate representation of an applicant’s qualifications.

APPLICANT RESPONSIBILITY

NOTE: It is the applicant’s responsibility to monitor their application for evaluation receipt, even after you have submitted your application. VMCAS will NOT notify applicants concerning missing evaluations. Applicants must follow up with any references in a “Requested” or “In-Progress” status and ensure all reference materials are completed to avoid delays in processing their application. You may view the status of your evaluations at any time in the Evaluations section.

Committee Letters

If you wish to submit a committee letter as part of your VMCAS application:

  • Enter the committee chair or their alternate as an evaluator.
  • The evaluator can then complete the assessment section of the evaluation.
  • The committee letter must be combined into a single document which can then be uploaded using the upload option in the evaluation.
  • A committee letter only counts as one reference for the purposes of fulfilling the minimum three references required.

COMMON QUESTIONS:

Q: What is the difference between an evaluation, letter of reference, and a letter of recommendation?

A: Nothing. They are all the same thing.

Q: How many evaluations must I enter?

A: You are required to list at least THREE (3) evaluators on your application in order to submit to VMCAS and you may list up to SIX (6). These must then be completed through the VMCAS evaluations website. PLEASE NOTE: VMCAS will verify your application as long as THREE (3) evaluations are listed. Any additional references received by VMCAS will be available to your schools immediately once they are completed.

Q: How can I find out what type of evaluation letter my schools require?

A: There are a number of resources available on the AAVMC website. Click here for an evaluation requirement chart, or check the school descriptor page.

NOTE: VMCAS will not check to be sure you have sent the type of references required by your schools. It is your responsibility to learn the requirements of your schools and acquire the necessary references.

Q: What is the expected length of an evaluation letter?

A: The file uploaded by references may not exceed 5 MB. The Evaluator Portal will not allow references to exceed this file size when uploading their assessment.

Q: Can I submit more than six evaluations?

A: NO. You may not submit more than five evaluations via VMCAS, and VMCAS cannot accept additional or substitute letters. However, you may want to contact the schools to which you are applying in inquire as to whether they will accept an additional or substitute letter. If so, you would send this additional letter directly to them.

Q; My reference has “Accepted”. What does that mean?

A: Your reference has saved some information on your reference, but has not yet submitted your letter of reference. Only submitted references can be sent to your programs.

Q: Why can I only have six letters? Why are letters restricted to 5 MB in length?

A: Restrictions regarding the length and number of references have been determined by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and the VMCAS Admissions Committee, which is made up of admissions officers from VMCAS participating veterinary programs. These restrictions reflect the veterinary programs’ desire to receive concise assessments and allow a certain degree of standardization in the amount of consideration given to each applicant’s reference material.

Q: Can I have different evaluations sent to individual programs?

A: No. Each evaluation is sent to all programs that you applied to.

Q: Can I send letters of reference which are on file at Interfolio or a career center?

A: NO. All letters of reference must be completed via the Evaluator Portal by the evaluator themselves.

Q: Does VMCAS accept committee letters?

A: If you wish to submit a committee letter to VMCAS, enter the committee chair or their alternate as the evaluator who will also complete the ratings section. This single evaluator must be listed on your application with the individual’s name. Do NOT label this letter as being from a group; i.e. “Thesis Committee.” The composite letter and ratings still must be submitted electronically through the VMCAS Evaluator Portal. The committee letter must be combined into a single document which can then be uploaded using the upload option and must adhere to the 5MB upload limit. Please note that a committee letter only counts as ONE evaluation for the purposes of application requirements. VMCAS applicants using a committee letter must still submit additional individual evaluations, completed by references who were not involved with the committee letter.

Q: What do I do if I want to change the person who is sending the reference or edit the information I entered?

A: Even after you submit your application, you may edit, delete, or replace evaluators whose status is still listed as “Requested” or “Accepted.” Once a reference is “completed,” you may not make changes to that reference, regardless as to whether or not you’ve submitted your application.

Q: How do I know my reference received the e-mail request?

A: Evaluator e-mail notifications for electronic references are sent immediately once you save the evaluator’s information into the system. Please advise your evaluators to monitor their junk e-mail and spam folders for messages from “vmcasinfo@vmcas.org,” subject heading “Evaluation Request Submitted” as these e-mails are automated and therefore sometimes filtered as spam. If your evaluator has not received their request within 24 hours, click the pencil icon to the right of the reference’s name on your VMCAS application, and then click the “Resend This Evaluation Request” button at the bottom of the page.

Q: My reference can’t log into the Evaluator Portal. What do I do?

A: If the reference continues to experience difficulty, they should contact VMCAS customer service directly by phone or e-mail so that we may assist them.

Q: How do I change an evaluator’s e-mail address?

A: To change the e-mail address of an evaluator, please log into your VMCAS application and click the pencil icon to the right of the evaluator’s name on your VMCAS application, and then edit the required information. Click the “Resend This Evaluation Request” button at the bottom of the page to resend the request to the correct address.

Q: How do I know if VMCAS received my evaluations?

A: You can monitor the status of your reference at any time by returning to the “Evaluators” section of the application. Each reference has a “STATUS” bar underneath. References which we have received will have a green “Status: Completed” flag and include A COMPLETE DATE. Since the references are completed electronically, these updates occur in real-time. Therefore, as soon as your reference clicks “submit” on the reference website, it also shows up on your application. If your reference does not have a complete date, then we have not received it.

Q: Can I submit my application before my evaluations are received by VMCAS?

A: Yes. Once you have successfully filled out your application, you can submit it to VMCAS. However, your application will not be processed until VMCAS has received all of your official transcripts, at least three listed evaluations, and your payment.

Q: How can I view my evaluations?

A: Even if you have not waived your right to view the reference, you still cannot access the reference via VMCAS. If you have not waived the right to view your reference, this means that you may ask your reference for a copy of their recommendation, or, you can request to view it at the time of an interview with VMCAS veterinary program. This is, however, at the discretion of the program not VMCAS.

Q: Can VMCAS forward my evaluations to me, my evaluators, or schools not affiliated with VMCAS?

A: NO. As per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), VMCAS may not release letters of reference to anyone other than your designated schools, including other schools or the applicant themselves.



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