When you complete the “Reference Forms” section of the CASPA PA school application, you will  be asked for the name, relationship, and contact information for each reference, and whether or not you waive your right to read your completed reference.  should you waive this right?  We believe there is only one correct answer: yes.

Click here to read other articles on the CASPA PA school application letters of reference. 

What is the Letter of Reference Waiver?

It’s a legal/procedural formality.  Most students never read the letters that their references write, but it’s natural to be curious about what they say, particularly after failing to get into a PA program.

According to the CASPAPA school application instructions for reference letters:

Checking, “No, I DO NOT WAIVE MY RIGHT” indicates to the school that your recommenders wrote their reference with the understanding that you may choose to view it. Please note that even if you have not waived your right to view the reference, you still cannot access the reference via CASPA. 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, once you matriculate into a PA program, you may view the reference in their offices.

Why You Should Waive this Right

For several reasons:

Student being confident in his CASPA PA school application

Waiving the right to read your letters says you are confident.

  1. First, needing to read your letters shouldn’t even come up – you should only seek out letters of reference from people who you know strongly support your application.  And if you get strongly supportive letters, why would you need to read them?  If you aren’t sure how a professor or a former boss feels about you, you shouldn’t ask them for a letter in the first place.
  2. The CASPA PA schools you apply to will be informed of your choice to waive or not waive your right to read each letter.  Waiving your right implies that you have no need to read them; you are confident about what they say.  If you don’t waive your right, what might those CASPA PA admissions committees members think?  Hmmm.  Jane wants to read her letter.  Isn’t she confident that it’s positive?  You don’t want them wondering anything like that about you.
  3. If you get a bad letter and don’t get in, it will be too late to do anything about it – reading it may satisfy your curiosity, but it won’t change the outcome.
  4. Even if you choose not to waive your right, you still may not get to see the letter.  It’s up your reference, and you’ll need to take it up with them directly.  CASPA doesn’t get involved.

If You Think One of Your Letters of Reference Hurt Your CASPA PA Application

So you didn’t get in?  Wondering if you had an unflattering letter?  Then don’t use that reference the next time you apply.  Heck, if you think that one of your letters might have been s0-so,  you shouldn’t use it again.  Micro anecdote: years ago, I applied for a job that I didn’t get and I was able to read one of my letters after it was all over.  The letter was very positive about me – but very poorly written.  I clearly didn’t use good judgment about that reference, and that was my fault, not his. 

In short, you shouldn’t have any doubts about your references.  If you do, you shouldn’t use them.  One more time: waive your right to read your CASPA PA application references.