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Recommendation letters for applications for older student

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spacemuffin

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I just turned 29 and graduated the University in 2012. I plan to apply to medical school in the next year or two, depending on how well my preparation for the MCAT goes. After doing a good deal of research, it seems that many schools require recommendation letters from various professors or a panel (pretty sure we didnt have one at my university, unless things have changed).

What are my options since there is no feasible way a professor remembers me from a 300 person class that they taught roughly 10 years ago? Do professional references work in their stead? I have worked various healthcare related jobs and can get excellent recommendations that way.

Any insight is appreciated.
 

Talkbirthytome

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I have a similar situation although I have stayed in contact with some of my professors that did not teach science courses.

Some schools want to hear from your employer if you have been out of school for more than 5 years. Many schools are wanting you to take biochemistry which is new prerequisite since 2015 (when the MCAT changed). Some schools also want to see that you can still perform well academically, so they want you to have a science course taken within the last 5 years.

I recommend taking a science course or two now, particularly biochemistry, and form a relationship with that instructor. They could be your required reference and you could show that you can still handle a rigorous course.
 
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spacemuffin

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I have a similar situation although I have stayed in contact with some of my professors that did not teach science courses.

Some schools want to hear from your employer if you have been out of school for more than 5 years. Many schools are wanting you to take biochemistry which is new prerequisite since 2015 (when the MCAT changed). Some schools also want to see that you can still perform well academically, so they want you to have a science course taken within the last 5 years.

I recommend taking a science course or two now, particularly biochemistry, and form a relationship with that instructor. They could be your required reference and you could show that you can still handle a rigorous course.

This is a good point, I can take a look at a course that I might not have take in school and pick it up. I actually took biochemistry while I was in undergraduate (along with other courses that "might" be beneficial in the future). I prepared for medical school during my undergraduate years because I knew it was something that I was very passionate about but I knew I will be taking time off to explore other career paths with a much lower bar for entry.

Are there other courses that would be beneficial but might not necessarily be a part of a regular requirements list?
 

Drakozord X

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This is a good point, I can take a look at a course that I might not have take in school and pick it up. I actually took biochemistry while I was in undergraduate (along with other courses that "might" be beneficial in the future). I prepared for medical school during my undergraduate years because I knew it was something that I was very passionate about but I knew I will be taking time off to explore other career paths with a much lower bar for entry.

Are there other courses that would be beneficial but might not necessarily be a part of a regular requirements list?
Anatomy/Physiology, Microbiology, Biostatistics, Endocrinology, Medicinal Chemistry, Cell Biology, etc

Stats = quite popular these days
 
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spacemuffin

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Anyone have any input for the second part of my question (using professional references instead of school letters)?


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acciobutterbeer

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Anyone have any input for the second part of my question (using professional references instead of school letters)?


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I’ve only been out of school for a few years but I ended up using a LOR from a recent class taken, one from research advisor, one from my supervisor at work, and one from my volunteering supervisor. Some schools that had “strict” requirements asked that you call/email to get the substitutes approved. All schools that I asked approved my letters!
 
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spacemuffin

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I’ve only been out of school for a few years but I ended up using a LOR from a recent class taken, one from research advisor, one from my supervisor at work, and one from my volunteering supervisor. Some schools that had “strict” requirements asked that you call/email to get the substitutes approved. All schools that I asked approved my letters!

That's good to know, I had a hunch that if I reached out they would make an exception since I've been out for so long.


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holdthemayo

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Did you have a professor as your academic advisor in undergrad? They are more likely to remember you than a professor who you just randomly took. They also can write more about your performance overall during undergrad rather than in just one class.

I think many schools will accept a professional reference, but you might have to contact schools individually.
 

sumtimesuwonder

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I had similar problems when I was applying. What everyone has said above is correct and good advice. Just make sure that the class you get a recommendation from is considered a basic science. I got a recommendation from a nutrition class, which some schools did not consider a basic science and was not accepted under their guidelines, which kind of screwed me and was kind of a waste of money.
 
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spacemuffin

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Did you have a professor as your academic advisor in undergrad? They are more likely to remember you than a professor who you just randomly took. They also can write more about your performance overall during undergrad rather than in just one class.

I think many schools will accept a professional reference, but you might have to contact schools individually.

I honestly don't even remember but I'm pretty sure that it was just an administrator. Thing is, I never had a close relationship with my advisor or most of my basic science teachers because I never had the need to see them or was just one kid out of 300.

If I'm being honest, I maybe met my advisor 2-3 times in person during my entire time at school. I will still try and look them up, I'm guessing my school should have records of it but I'm a little adamant since I doubt their recommendation will carry any quality or substance.

On the flip side, all my professional recommendations could actually speak to the quality of my work and positive character traits relevant to med school. At this point I feel like it would be more beneficial to actually contact these schools about professional references rather than try to dig up a previous undergrad letter. If that fails, take a few classes on the side.


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curbsideconsult

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Current non-trad M3 here. Great advice on this thread.

If you choose to go the route of taking some extra science classes to get a letter or two, you absolutely cannot go wrong with Drakozord X's suggestions. I would also add immuno, neuro, and pharm to the list of choices.
 
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spacemuffin

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Current non-trad M3 here. Great advice on this thread.

If you choose to go the route of taking some extra science classes to get a letter or two, you absolutely cannot go wrong with Drakozord X's suggestions. I would also add immuno, neuro, and pharm to the list of choices.

I was actually about to ask you, what do you feel was the most beneficial to have a refresher or additional course in prior to starting medical school? Specifically, what might help me with some of the courses for M1/2?


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curbsideconsult

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I was actually about to ask you, what do you feel was the most beneficial to have a refresher or additional course in prior to starting medical school? Specifically, what might help me with some of the courses for M1/2?


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I think it was good to have taken cell bio. If I had to do it over again, I would probably also try to take micro and immuno.
 
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