This student has been out of school for YEARS – how can they get letters of recommendation?
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[01:42] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“I am quite concerned about the letter of recommendation requirements I’m seeing from a bunch of medical schools. They mostly ask for LOCs to be from science professors.
I am nontraditional and have been out of school for several years. Obtaining a letter from a professor would be impossible. Both of my favorite professors from biology are both retired now and I don’t have their contact info as they are no longer affiliated with the university.
I could have many rec letters from doctors I’ve worked with over the years, and supervisors from my currents jobs. Is that sufficient or do I still need a letter of rec from a professor? Has anyone else encountered this issue?”
[02:26] What You Need to Do
Yes, this comes up all the time for nontraditional students, especially students who have been out of school for a long time. They aren’t planning on going back to take more classes because they’ve been done with that. And now they’re finally applying to medical school, it’s going to be much harder.'Every medical school has different requirements, different policies and procedures in place for nontraditional students and for their letters of recommendations.' Click To Tweet
What you should do then is reach out to all the schools that you are planning on applying to. Ask them about their letter of recommendation policy. Tell them how you’ve been out of school for X number of years. And it will be very hard for you to get a strong letter of recommendation from these required letter writers that you want.
Tell them that you have been working and volunteering and whether you can replace it with a work supervisor, a volunteer supervisor, or a physician.
Offer the potential alternatives in your email to them and see what they say. Some schools will be adamant about their hard requirements. While there will also be schools that will be okay with it.
Hence, this is just going to be a school-by-school basis on what they want, what they will let you substitute, and whether they will substitute or not.
[04:05] A Great Way to Get Insights
Reaching out directly to the schools will give you insights about the schools on whether they’re nontrad friendly or not.
Hopefully, they are lenient with you. Because if they say no and they are not allowing some flexibility for nontraditional students, then maybe they don’t want nontraditional students.
Take that as a sign of frustration that they’re not being flexible. It may be your top choice school but it’s a good kind of warning to stay away from that school.