Can I Use A Letter of Recommendation from 3 Years Ago?

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OPM 323: Can I Use A Letter of Recommendation from 3 Years Ago?

Session 323

This premed asked a professor from a few years ago to write a letter and instead, they offered to resend an old letter dated 3 years back. Should they use it?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from Go ask your questions there and use #OPMquestion. Also, please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey.

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Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

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[02:39] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I have a letter of recommendation from professors I interacted with two years ago. I’m a bit of a pickle and was wondering if anyone had the same issue and how they went about it. As we all know AMCAS requires at least three letters of recommendation, two of which have to be from professors you’ve had in the past.”

Note: AMCAS doesn’t require anything, but it’s the medical schools that require letters of recommendation. And so, the application services themselves don’t have the requirements.

I graduated from my university two years ago, and I’ve not had interactions with any of my professors since then. I’ve reached out to one of those professors and they have agreed to send the old reference letter they wrote for me three years ago. However, they said it might be detrimental to my application due to the long time that has passed since our last interaction. 

I’ve also been retaking Organic Chemistry at my local community college. However, I am not close with the professor at all, as he simply knows me by my full name displayed on Zoom. I do not feel like he would write a genuine letter of recommendation. He does not really know much about me, besides the fact that I probably hold the highest grade in the class. 

Hence, I’m wondering if I should ask my current professor for a letter of recommendation. Or stick to the old reference from three years ago, which was more personal and relevant, Any help would be much appreciated.”

[04:52] The Purpose of an LOR

“It's really hard to form a bond from that relationship with a professor so that they can write you a strong letter of recommendation.”Click To Tweet

There’s more to a letter of recommendation than just the professor telling you that you did well in class. The important part of a letter is being able to speak about you, as a person, your character, and everything else. If you look at the AAMC core competencies, that’s something to think about.

Do you have someone in your life that classifies as one of the requirements from the medical schools that they’re requiring a letter of recommendation? Do you have someone in your life that can write to these attributes and look at those core competencies? That’s one way to look at that.

The hard part is  if you haven’t been out of school that long. And it’s probably not long enough for schools to give you a different set of rules to play by, in terms of which letters are required. You may be stuck with what you have, and it’s as good as it’ll get.

[06:41] Reach Out to Schools

There are lots of options here. Medical schools are aware that students move on from school. They graduate, they move on, and then they apply to medical school. And what are you going to do when you have this letter of recommendation requirements that these med schools are arbitrarily creating?

At the end of the day, you can only do what you can do. Check with each school that you’re interested in applying to. At least one school specified on their website that if you’ve been out of school for more than a year, you can use alternative letters outside of the normal required letters. These things can be very institution-specific so you really have to reach out to schools to find out.

[07:47] MyLORs

We’re trying to gather a lot of that data inside of maps so that we can let you know, especially now that we have our myLORs feature built in to Mappd Pro users. It basically replaces Interfolio, only better. Because aside from requesting and storing your letters, we will QA it before you transmit it to the application services when you’re ready.

[08:49] Final Thoughts

If you have to use a letter from a Zoom professor, then you have to use a letter from a Zoom professor. And it just is what it is. Something you can do on top of that is throw in some extra letters. Medical schools typically have their required letters, and then a maximum number of letters that they want to see.

In this case, you can throw in that letter from a Zoom professor that you know is not going to be a great letter writer. But hopefully, you can make up for that and be able to get someone who can write you a strong letter of recommendation.

Again, go check out myLORs. Use the promo code OLDPREMEDS when you register for your Mappd count. And you’ll get 90 days free of Mappd Pro. Mappd is free and you can track your grades, courses, activities, and your MCAT. It also allows you to build a school list.


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AAMC core competencies

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