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Getting an LOR from an Old Prof... Any Experience with this?

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Kikaku21

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So I am essentially a non-trad. I've been out of undergrad for a little over 3 years, and I plan to fill out the AMCAS in a few months. But right now its LOR time, which brings me to an interesting, and probably quite common problem.

I've got the Science LORs from the post bacc stuff, and other LORs from work and extra curriculars. But what about that pesky non-science letter? It looks like I'm going to have to go back to undergrad and find someone. My best prospect is the professor from my engineering design class. I worked individually with him for a full semester in a group with 2 other students. He also was a reference for getting the job that I have now. The problem is, it has been 3 years since I have talked to him.

I know sometimes people manage to pull this off, and I am certainly going to try. I was wondering if anyone had any advice on the approach here.
 

roubs

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this might be too late for you but I would have contacted them a while before you need the letter and (assuming they know you) just give an update on what your new plans are and if you could approach them about a letter for med school at X time. That's what I did and I got a great response from my undergrad profs. If you need them right now then I don't see a better option than just asking. If you're writing an email/letter I'd go through whats happened in your life since you last talked to the guy/gal.
 

foofish

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I was in about the same position (about 3 years out, had done a postbac to get the prereqs done), and I was incredibly, stupidly nervous about asking--in part because the prof had once upon a time *offered* to write me a LOR....because she always likes to encourage bright students to pursue a History PhD in the particular field I focused on. Umm, oops?

But I asked, and it wasn't a problem. Writing LORs is part of the responsibilities of being a professor, and people come back much later for LORs for many fields...it's probably much more common than you think, and since you worked closely with him, he'd probably like to know what you're up to and would be glad to write you a LOR. If you were a random person in a thousand who once took his Intro to the World 101 class, it might be different.

Contact them ASAP. I sent an email (she was doing research half-way around the world) giving an update on my life, about how I had decided to go to med school, and thanking her also for things she had done for me in college, and then asked her for a LOR (I think I even explained how schools find it useful to hear from non-science profs, and from my undergrad even though I had done additional coursework elsewhere). The prof was really nice about it, asked if I could email her a paper I had written for one of her classes, and as far as I can tell wrote a really great letter (it's been mentioned in a few interviews).

Just write the email and hit send....you'll feel much better. :luck:
 

OneBasket

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Two thoughts:

1) if you ultimately decide that you want/need a letter from this person, i agree with the above posts. Contact the prof right away and provide plenty of information about what you've been doing in those three years. I actually took a day trip to my undergrad college to meet with a bio prof I hadn't spoken to in more than 10 years (!) and he not only recognized me but really remembered a lot about me, but we sat and talked for about an hour which I thinked helped him write a better letter. You might consider such a visit if the distance isn't to great.


but...

2) you may not really need a non-science letter as long as you have a committee/pre-health advisor letter. I only applied to UVM, so it may be different elsewhere, but I had so many letters from other folks (the head of the school I taught at for 5 years, the genetic counselor who supervised my work as a clinic coordinator, plus all the academic-science profs) that it would have been too much. Check with your pre-health person/committee before you chase this non-science prof person down.

good luck!
OneB
 

Kikaku21

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Two thoughts:

1) if you ultimately decide that you want/need a letter from this person, i agree with the above posts. Contact the prof right away and provide plenty of information about what you've been doing in those three years. I actually took a day trip to my undergrad college to meet with a bio prof I hadn't spoken to in more than 10 years (!) and he not only recognized me but really remembered a lot about me, but we sat and talked for about an hour which I thinked helped him write a better letter. You might consider such a visit if the distance isn't to great.



but...

2) you may not really need a non-science letter as long as you have a committee/pre-health advisor letter. I only applied to UVM, so it may be different elsewhere, but I had so many letters from other folks (the head of the school I taught at for 5 years, the genetic counselor who supervised my work as a clinic coordinator, plus all the academic-science profs) that it would have been too much. Check with your pre-health person/committee before you chase this non-science prof person down.

good luck!
OneB

Yeah, my undergrad doesn't do the committee, so I have to track the guy down. I am going to give him a call today or tomorrow and lay out the situation. I'll offer any materials that may be helpful and also offer to go an meet with him.

Wish me luck.
 

Kikaku21

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SWEET!

Just got off the phone with him. He agreed to write it! Glad to done with that one. I just have to give him a bunch of update info over the next couple of months.
 

roubs

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glad it worked out :)
 
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