It can be tough to get letters of recommendation when you’ve been out of school for some time. The best way to go about this is by implementing a few strategies that will help you get the best letters possible. In this article, we will dive into those strategies and show you how to make the most of your situation!
Medical School and Graduate School Letters of Recommendation
A common requirement of almost any graduate program, medical school included is for students to get letters of recommendation. This can be a difficult task if you haven’t been in school for a while. Here are a few tips on how to get letters of recommendation when your education is outdated:
– Look for professors or professionals that you have worked closely with in the past and who can attest to your abilities. If you’ve taken any classes related to the program you’re applying to, that’s a great place to start.
– If you don’t have any close relationships with professors or professionals, look for opportunities to get involved in projects or research. This will give you the chance to form these relationships and get the letters of recommendation that you need.
This is just a part of the process and most university professors understand at some point they may be asked to be a letter writer to help get someone into graduate school.
Why are letters part of the graduate school application
Letters allow the program you are applying to a chance to get someone’s opinion who knows you better than they do.
Graduate schools and medical school included only get a short time to get to know you and letter writers give them the chance to get a opinion from someone who theoretically knows you a lot better and can vouch for you.
If the letter writer doesn’t know you super well, then the reality is they still know you better than the admissions committee and so the letter can still be valuable to the grad school admissions committee.
Strategy 1: The close professor
This strategy relies heavily on former professors that you may have had a close relationship with.
This could be someone you did research with, spent time in their office asking questions, got to know easily throughout semesters, or really any of your undergraduate professors that you feel you got too know well outside the classroom.
The nice thing about this person is they can typically give a strong letter since they know you so well.
This can be one of the best types of letters you can get because it will go into detail about how great of a student and person you are.
This is the ideal person to write a recommendation letter as they know you well and can attest to your personality and abilities.
Strategy 2: The usual professor
This is going to be the second option to get your required academic references. This is a former instructor that you may not have known as well, but they can still speak to your academic ability.
These letters are going to be more factual in nature and won’t go into how great of a student or person you are.
While this letter may lack some personality, it is still valuable to have someone who knows your academic history write a letter for you.
The potential letter writers in this category are going to be those people that expect to write letters often. These include:
- Biology teachers
- Chemistry teachers
- English teachers
- Physics professors
- Anatomy and physiology professors
While not an exhaustive list, it does hopefully give you an idea of good options from people who usually expect to be writing letters due to the type of students they get (pre-health).
Can I use a letter of recommendation from 5 years ago?
Absolutely, letters don’t expire.
Sometimes a person’s academic situation changes over time and that can be reflected in how they do in graduate school.
A letter from years ago may not reflect your current state as a student, but it will still show how you have done academically in the past.
Graduate schools understand that sometimes people have a few bad semesters or run into some personal issues and that can be reflected in how well they did during their undergraduate career.
A letter from years ago will still give the admissions committee a chance to see how you performed academically in the past and how someone else perceived you.
If you are worried about how old a letter is, you can always ask the letter writer to update the letter or write a new one.
This is perfectly acceptable and will give you some peace of mind knowing that your letters are as current as possible.
How do you ask for a letter of recommendation after a gap year?
Your old academic advisor is a great place to start when asking for a letter of recommendation.
They will be able to attest to how you did academically as well as how you handled yourself in the gap year.
Other good places to look for potential letter writers are employers, volunteer coordinators, and research mentors.
These people will be able to speak to how you have handled yourself in a work or research setting and can attest to your character.
Asking for a letter of recommendation can be tough, but it is definitely doable even after taking some time off from school.
There are plenty of people who are willing to write you a letter as long as you give them enough time to write a strong letter.
Gap years are expected in many cases and typically most professors are happy to write letters for their former students, so long as you were a good student!
How do I request a letter of recommendation from an old professor?
This is a common question that many students have when it comes to getting letters of recommendation.
First, you want to make sure that the professor is still at the school you attended and if they are not, try to find a way to get in touch with them.
Once you have located the professor, start by sending them an email or reaching out to them on social media.
In the email, introduce yourself and let them know that you are applying to graduate school and would love for them to write a letter of recommendation for you.
If they agree, be sure to give them all the information they need including:
- – The name of the school you are applying to
- – The program you are applying to
- – How many letters of recommendation you need
- – What the due date is for the letter
- – Any other information they may need such as your resume or personal statement
Make sure that you give them plenty of time to write a strong letter for you, at least two weeks.
If for some reason they are unable to write a letter for you, be sure to ask them for a referral to another professor who may be able to write a letter on your behalf.
Getting letters of recommendation can seem daunting, but if you follow these tips, you should be able to get some great letters from your old professors!
Can you ask for a letter of recommendation after graduation?
Absolutely, many times people aren’t 100% sure of what they are doing until they graduate, and this is perfectly acceptable.
There are plenty of people who take a year or two after graduation to figure out their next steps.
Your old academic advisor is a great place to start when asking for a letter of recommendation.
The academic advisors know that recommendation letters are just part of the process, and they can help point you in a good direction for those professors that frequently write letters for students.
Most students do ask for letters before graduation, as grad school applications start prior to graduation, but it is not uncommon at all to have students ask after graduation and even years later.
How do you get letters of recommendation if you don’t know anyone?
This can be tough, but there are a few ways to go about getting letters of recommendation even if you don’t know anyone.
One way is to try and get in touch with your old professors from college or any other academic institution you may have attended.
Another way is to ask for referrals from friends or family members who may know someone who can write a letter for you.
If all else fails, you can always try reaching out to the admissions department of the school you’re applying to and see if they have any recommendations on how to get letters of recommendation in your situation.
Getting letters of recommendation when you’ve been out of school can be tough, but it’s definitely possible with a little effort!
How do you ask for a letter of recommendation from someone you don’t know?
This process can be intimidating, but here are a few pointers to make it easier. You should start by looking up the person’s contact information online.
Once you have their contact information, start by sending them an email or reaching out to them on social media.
In the email, introduce yourself and let them know that you are applying to graduate school and would love for them to write a letter of recommendation for you. Let them know the courses you have taken from them, a good experience you had in their course, and then ask them if they think they would be able to write a letter of recommendation for you.
This is a tough situation for both of you, because they may say no to writing the letter and that puts you back in the same spot, or they may feel guilted into writing the letter despite not knowing you well and this puts them in a tough spot.
If they do say no, then be understanding of it. This is a big ask of someone who you don’t know well and you shouldn’t just expect them to say yes to writing you a letter.
If they say no, then you are right back where you started which isn’t a big deal because you just start looking for someone else to write the letter.
Do letters of rec have to be from professors
This is a difficult question, it depends on what grad school you are applying to. If the school you are applying to does not explicitly state that letters of recommendation have to be from professors, then you may have some wiggle room.
In this case, it is best to try and get a letter from a professor if possible because they will be able to speak more about your academic abilities than someone who is not a professor.
That being said, if you are struggling to get a letter from a professor, it is not the end of the world. You can try reaching out to professionals who you have worked with in the past or other people who can speak to your academic abilities.
It is best to avoid getting letters from friends and family members if possible because they may not be able to speak as strongly about your academic abilities.
Most medical schools require one science and one non-science faculty to write a letter of recommendation for you. Then there are other requirements, but in general you would have to have a couple letters from a professor in most cases.
Well, that’s it for now! As you can see, getting letters of recommendation when you’ve been out of school can be a little tricky, but with a little effort it is definitely possible. Just remember to start early and to be understanding if the person you are asking says no. Good luck on your applications!