What do I do with my LORs? I don't want them to be outdated

Gladiolus23

5+ Year Member
Aug 16, 2013
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I got all my LORs last year when I was planning to apply. However, I decided to take a gap year and figured my letters would be okay since they were within the year. Unexpectedly, I now have to take two gap years (I am not applying this cycle anymore). Now, I'm worried because my letters, which are all very strong, will be outdated by next cycle. To make things worse, I graduated so I'm scared I'll lose contact with my professors. I was suggested to explain the situation to them now and ask my recommenders to update the letters with next cycle's date in advance. Can I do this? If not, what is the alternative?

I don't want them to look at my letters next cycle to update them with a new date only to realize that they no longer feel the same way about me as they did when they wrote the LOR. Then, they might change the LOR and make it weak since they don't know me as well anymore :( any advice?

Also, I haven't yet told my recommenders that I'm taking another gap year. They all think I'm applying this year and are very confident I'll get in. How do I break this news to them? Is there a chance they will think lowly of me for taking another year just to apply?
 

rcordova

ASA Member
2+ Year Member
Jun 26, 2015
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Pre-Medical
If you are still doing stuff with your letter writers, why would you use your extra gap year to lessen their opinion of you instead of improving?

If you are not still doing stuff with your letter writers, 1) why is someone with whom you no longer interact the best endorsement you can get 2) how is this writer's opinion current when the date on it is a year out from when the associated activity ended and 3) where are contacts from your current activities?
 

tjo422

2+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2016
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Medical Student (Accepted)
I am in my third gap year. It's a predicament because some schools require letters from professors that taught you either (or both) in your major or at your undergrad institution. My pre-health committee saved my letters in my file, so my packet was sent with letter that were written three years ago by my former professors/research mentors in addition to my current supervisor and an updated committee letter.

If your choice is a good old letter from a professor that knew you well, or an average letter from a professor that doesn't remember much about you two years later, I'd pick the former (provided you can get at least one current letter to supplement).

If your undergrad won't save the letter to your file for you to include in your committee packet, look into having them submitted to interfolio.


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Gladiolus23

5+ Year Member
Aug 16, 2013
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If you are still doing stuff with your letter writers, why would you use your extra gap year to lessen their opinion of you instead of improving?

If you are not still doing stuff with your letter writers, 1) why is someone with whom you no longer interact the best endorsement you can get 2) how is this writer's opinion current when the date on it is a year out from when the associated activity ended and 3) where are contacts from your current activities?
I am not still doing stuff with my letter writers atm…I recently graduated and haven't really begun any significant other activities as of yet. I am still looking for opportunities and frankly, I think even next year, the letters I currently have from last year will be stronger than any new letters I am able to get. My recommenders said they were okay with updating the date when I asked them a couple of months ago. Do you think I can ask them to update it to next year? Or how else can I deal with this situation?
 
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Gladiolus23

5+ Year Member
Aug 16, 2013
298
21
Status
I am in my third gap year. It's a predicament because some schools require letters from professors that taught you either (or both) in your major or at your undergrad institution. My pre-health committee saved my letters in my file, so my packet was sent with letter that were written three years ago by my former professors/research mentors in addition to my current supervisor and an updated committee letter.

If your choice is a good old letter from a professor that knew you well, or an average letter from a professor that doesn't remember much about you two years later, I'd pick the former (provided you can get at least one current letter to supplement).

If your undergrad won't save the letter to your file for you to include in your committee packet, look into having them submitted to interfolio.


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My undergrad does not have a committee letter, so all these LORs will have to be submitted individually to med schools. Are you applying this cycle? If so, did any schools comment on your old letters or has this worked out for you? Did you ask your pre-health committee whether this would be an issue… Because maybe they could update the date to present?
 

tjo422

2+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2016
243
217
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Medical Student (Accepted)
My undergrad does not have a committee letter, so all these LORs will have to be submitted individually to med schools. Are you applying this cycle? If so, did any schools comment on your old letters or has this worked out for you? Did you ask your pre-health committee whether this would be an issue… Because maybe they could update the date to present?
Yes I am. I have four IIs so far, so it doesn't appear to be an issue. My pre-health committee seemed to be on board with the mix of old and new letters. But again, I didn't have much of a choice since schools I'm applying to require letters from undergrad professors within my major barring exceptional circumstances.

If they are individual letters, I believe you can use interfolio so that you can indicate when they are sent to AMCAS but still maintain confidentiality. Definitely plan on getting letters to reflect your growth during your gap year(s).


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Gladiolus23

5+ Year Member
Aug 16, 2013
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Yes I am. I have four IIs so far, so it doesn't appear to be an issue. My pre-health committee seemed to be on board with the mix of old and new letters. But again, I didn't have much of a choice since schools I'm applying to require letters from undergrad professors within my major barring exceptional circumstances.

If they are individual letters, I believe you can use interfolio so that you can indicate when they are sent to AMCAS but still maintain confidentiality. Definitely plan on getting letters to reflect your growth during your gap year(s).


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Even with Interfolio, I would still need to have my recommenders update the date on the letter right? Also, if all my LORs were updated for the 2017-18 cycle, would it be a big negative if I didn't get any gap year letters? Because I'm worried these might not be as strong, and I'd rather not swap one of my strong undergrad LORs for a weak gap year LOR...
 

tjo422

2+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2016
243
217
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Medical Student (Accepted)
No you wouldn't need to, that's the point. They would appear to be from the time they wrote them, you would just have the power to send them to AMCAS in whichever cycle you choose.

A gap year letter should supplement the old ones, unless there's a limit on the amount of letters you can send. You shouldn't send one if it will be weak anyway.

I'm not sure if it matters if you get the date changed or not. Maybe an adcom can chime in on this. Either way it will say something to the effect of "was a student in my class during the Spring of 2013", etc. so I don't know why it would matter if that was dated 2014 or 2016. But maybe I'm wrong.


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