Hi, everyone. I’m new to this board. I’m 42 and seriously considering medical school, if I can get home issues (read: finances) worked out with my darling wife. In considering what I need to do to make this a reality, I find myself wondering at some things. Two specific issues come to mind:
- Who do I get to write letters of recommendation? I am fifteen years out of my first undergrad school, and except for one physics professor, any faculty who might possibly remember me have long since retired. I went to grad school and did very well in the classes, but I never got my thesis finished or signed off and thus never got my MS. My old advisor could certainly write something, but I don’t know how complimentary to my academic talents it would be. I currently work as a programmer and technical writer at a software company that everyone knows and many curse; I doubt a LOR from my current lead would mean a lot to a medical committee. Ideas?
- Surfing the web, I have seen many examples of personal statements for med school. I’m sorry to be harsh, but almost without exception, these statements read like they were written in a freshman creative-writing class. ("‘Someone call 911!’, I bellowed. I had seen the young white man get hit by the speeding automobile, watched his flailing body fly through the air and land in a crumpled heap on the pavement. Etc etc etc" – you must be kidding.) But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Is this really the type of thing admission committees like?
Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

I can’t say I know what ad coms like in terms of the ps. My advisor read mine and liked it and the Dean read it and hated it. Then I rewrote it and the Dean loved it and my advisor hated it.
Re: LORs, I got two from science professors at Georgetown where I did my post bacc classes, one from my undergrad advisor and two from doctors I have shadowed. I am using Interfolio.

If you’re many years removed from school, you’re almost certainly going to need to do some current schoolwork in order to put together a competitive application. This could be a repeat of the prereqs (some med schools have “age limits” on how old these can be), or it could be upper-division science coursework to “prove that you can still hack it.” Other OPMs have found this to be a pretty consistent expectation for people who are hoping to get into med school after a long time away.
So. I think that you’ll find the answer to your LOR dilemma with further investigation into what sort of schooling you’re going to need to do as preparation for applying. As for folks from your past, you ONLY want LORs from folks who can give you strong, positive LORs and when you solicit a recommendation, that’s how you should ask for it: “Can you give me a strongly positive recommendation letter?” If you sense even a moment’s hesitation, say, “Well, let me know, I’ll be in touch,” or something similarly vague, walk away, and do not follow up!
As for the PS, obviously yours will be different. You’ll be expected to show why you’ve decided on medicine at this point in your life: what led you here? why now? why not something else? One AdCom member put it to me like this: “Tell the story of how you got here,” no more, no less.
While it doesn’t have to be dramatic or sound like a freshman writing exercise, it also shouldn’t be the boring bullet-point paragraphs off a resume. It needs to capture your passion for medicine and illustrate why you’re willing to turn your life upside down to pursue it. It’s challenging, for sure!
good luck

About eight years ago, I returned to school to get a second bachelor’s degree. I completed 48 hours of class in two quarters (20 hours the first quarter, 28 the second) and garnered all A’s; these were all hard core CS classes, too, no fluff. I earned a BSCS in six months. Will this qualify as proving my academic ability? I hope so, because while I’m willing to leave my job and take time from my family for medical school, I am not willing to leave my job or take significant time from my family just to jump through some academic hoops at my community college in order to impress the med school people enough to let me in.
What if I score high on my MCATs? Will that make a difference? What constitutes a “high MCAT score”, anyway? Would a 38 be sufficient to convince them that I can “hack it”?
Thanks in advance for any advice or insight you can give. (After reading your story, Mary, you’re my hero. Er, heroine.)

those recent courses will be good for your case. However, you still need to investigate the eligibility of “old” prerequisites - will they count? Some schools don’t care but others do. You’re going to have to find this one out for yourself because it seems to vary a lot.
As to the MCAT, er, a 38 is a marvelous goal and is achieved, I believe, by less than 1% of MCAT takers. No doubt about it, the MCAT is one hard test and your past test-taking experience will not take you that far with it. People on this board have gotten into U.S. med schools with scores ranging from mid-20s to high-30s. You’ll want to score above the average for matriculating students (which is around a 28-29) if you want to get in without taking additional science courses, I would think…