Recs 10 years after undergrad

Many thanks in advance for any advice.

I am 10 yrs out of undergrad. I’m old, but giving med school a try. My wife thinks I’m nuts, but she’s behind me 100%, which is great. I recently submitted my AMCAS app.

My pluses:

Undergrad in biochemistry. Met pre-med requirements.

Potentially relevant work experience (in IT and healthcare management consulting)


3.6 undergrad GPA / 3.8 grad GPA (MBA)

My minuses:

Last science class was 10 yrs ago!!!

Lack of much research experience

Lack of much hospital volunteer experience (one summer in college)

Applying to:

2 Top 20 schools

3 Top 100? schools

I have two questions:

1.) Recommendations. I doubt my science profs remember me from 10+ yrs ago. I can definitely get recommendations from my current job, from partners in our healthcare practice. But, the closest I can get to a “science” prof would be a Health Economics prof at grad school. How have others handled this problem?

2.) Science courses. I’d like to think my MCAT score from Apr 06 makes up for the lack of science studies in 10 yrs. Is that wishful thinking?

Again, many thanks for any advice.

Welcome to OPM!

I’m still pre-med and fairly new to science in general. So, I have to say that I am envious of your rockin’ MCAT score & overall academic achievment. I’m no advisor, but I seem to recall that a lot of medical schools like (or maybe demand) minty fresh pre-reqs (years < 8?). As a complete non-trad. student, I know I’d likely not get accepted if I were to only apply to 5 really competitive schools. You might pull it off, but if it were me in your shoes…

I’d probably be checking with those schools to make certain the dust my pre-reqs won’t be an issue.

I’m anxious to see what advice others here may have for you. Good luck on those applications!


My understanding is also that most schools require pre-reqs to be from within the last ~7 years. From schools I’ve contacted directly, they seem somewhat flexible on things like English or Calc requirements; they seem fairly rigid about, say, recent Biology coursework.

As it looks like you’ve done well in your undergrad BCPM, certain post-bacc programs may meet your needs - especially those geared towards proving higher level coursework to build off of previous experience. Certainly, if you don’t get in to these schools you just applied for - try to take the opportunity to ask them what they’d want you to improve.

By the way - very impressive MCAT for having been out for so long! And welcome to OPM

  • ad123 Said:
Science courses. I'd like to think my MCAT score from Apr 06 makes up for the lack of science studies in 10 yrs. Is that wishful thinking?

Quite possibly. It's hard to tell. As stated above, most med schools tend to "prefer" pre-req grades less than 7 years old. I'm not sure how many of them have actual policies stating a limit on the age of pre-reqs.

IMO applying to only five schools without finding out their policies on age of pre-reqs was risky. I won't say its impossible though . . . its hard to tell how a school will weigh the various components. Perhaps your outstanding MCAT and work experience will be enough for them to overlook the age of your MCAT (especially if you have a great personal statement). But, don't be surprised if it's not.

You might consider registering for an upper level bio class or two over the coming school year and sending an update letter to the schools you have applied to that you will be taking those courses. If you don't get anywhere this year, taking those courses will help should you decide to reapply next year.

Again, it's really hard to say how schools will view your application. I have some classmates who I suspect had a similar background to yours and (obviously) got accepted.

Good luck. Maybe one of our former adcom members will chip in with some words of wisdom for you, as well.

Many thanks to all the advice.

I learned from a conversation with the U of Chicago adcomm member that in my situation, I MAY need to take 2 advanced courses, to show I can hack it. So your advice is right on.

I thought, IF I get through to the interview and they like what I have to say, but have a question about my ability to do science coursework, I can offer to take a couple of courses in the spring semester, and be on the wait list or something until I get the grades.

This actually seemed less risky to me than leaving my current job (can’t go parttime), enrolling in a couple of courses for the fall semester, only to find out I don’t get an interview anywhere.

Of course it doesn’t help that I am only applying to 5 schools. But I had to make the compromise with my wife that we wouldn’t leave Chicago after we got here less than a year ago…

So, I’m certainly taking the road less travelled by. I’d be happy to continue posting, as this story unfolds…

Many thanks again!

  • ad123 Said:
I thought, IF I get through to the interview and they like what I have to say, but have a question about my ability to do science coursework, I can offer to take a couple of courses in the spring semester, and be on the wait list or something until I get the grades.

The problem with this though, is that you won't likely find out that they have a problem with the age of your pre-reqs until after you have been rejected. Also, interviews typically run through March, so if you wait until the end of interview season, you won't have time to enroll in any courses (other than summer) prior to med school. This can also present a problem in that many medical schools start in the fall before a summer course would be over.

It's possible that if you get an interview before you would have to enroll for spring courses that a school might grant you a conditional acceptance if you complete X amount of science courses. However, I think this is unlikely. Medical schools have SO many applicants that fully meet their requirements, that they very rarely waive those.

  • Quote:
This actually seemed less risky to me than leaving my current job (can't go parttime), enrolling in a couple of courses for the fall semester, only to find out I don't get an interview anywhere.

I understand the not wanting to take the risk of quitting your job. But, at some point you have to decide how serious you are about going to medical school. The reality of it is that you will most likely need to take some recent science classes in order to get an acceptance. If you decide to wait until after you are rejected this year (unless you are rejected early), you will be unable to do much to improve your application before re-applying next year.

If you are truely serious about going to medical school, then I think you need to consider taking a course or two in the spring. Obviously, I don't know anything about your work situation, but in the Chicago area I would hope that you could find SOMETHING that would meet your needs without quitting your job. (evening or weekend classes) You might also want to consider doing some activities to improve other weak spots in your application (i.e. - volunteer hours, shadowing, or some kind of position with patient contact).

Again, I sincerely hope that you do beat the odds and get accepted with the old pre-reqs. But, I think you have to be thinking about what you are going to do if you don't. As I already mentioned, waiting until after you hear about rejections this year will make it virtually impossible to improve your application for re-applying next year and probably force you to sit out the next application cycle while taking courses, etc. If that is acceptable to you, then great. If you would prefer to be able to reapply next year, then you need to start taking steps NOW to improve your application.

Good luck, and keep us posted!

I don’t know what your hours are like, but I am taking my prereqs at northwestern at night (and I work full time). To take classes as a student-at-large in the school of continuing studies, all you have to do is register. No application or anything like that. Classes are usually once or twice a week. Fall quarter starts Sept 19 and I’m pretty sure you can still register.

Information on the courses available can be found here:

good luck!


I was also in a similar situation, and FYI it is possible for you to ask the medical schools to waive their requirement for fresh pre-reqs. I asked several schools to do it for me, and they did. I think with your stellar MCAT score and your graduate degree, it is a reasonable thing for you to request, especially if your grad degree is also in science. You should contact all five schools and find out what their requirements are, and whether they would be willing to work with you. It can’t hurt to ask. Best of luck to you.

Wow, what a great forum and community.

QofQuimica: Great idea and I will call all 5 schools to ask about my options.

slb: I may see you in class in the spring semester

Emergency: Thanks for the kick in the pants. Entirely deserved, I might add.

Hope others reading this thread find it useful. I will post the responses from the schools. This should be interesting…

  • ad123 Said:
Emergency: Thanks for the kick in the pants. Entirely deserved, I might add.

No offense meant, btw. Most people come here for honest advice, and often, it is not what we want to hear. Back when I was applying, I was told some things I didn't want to hear. I didn't necessarily follow the advice, but I understood where they were coming from and it gave me a realistic mindset about what my odds were.

I think your GPA, MCAT and work experience sound outstanding, I (not being an adcom) don't really know how much they will weigh those over recent prereqs. As Q mentioned, if your grad degree was a science degree, I would agree with her that there is a decent possibility that they would waive your pre-reqs. Since, its not though, I gotta think that decreases the odds tremendously, although the undergrad biochem degree might help.

Another consideration, if you do get accepted, a recent course or two would probably be a great help in getting in the medical school mindset. I have heard several people who retook some older pre-reqs comment on how much biology has changed since they took it the first time.

While you're calling schools about the pre-reqs - if they DO say they will waive the age requirement for you, you might as well ask them about your LOR situation. If they are willing to overlook the age of your pre-reqs, hopefully, they would be flexible on your LOR's as well.

Good news!

I talked to admissions counselors at the medical schools at University of Illinois Chicago, and Loyola University.

On Pre-reqs:

Both said that they recommend applicants take refresher courses. But after I told them the MCAT results, they said I wouldn’t need to take refresher courses.

On Recommendations:

After the conversation on pre-reqs, this conversation was a lot easier. They said they make exceptions for non-trad applicants. Both said they could accept recommendations from grad school, as well as employers.

I am fortunate that my MCATs turned out well. Telling them my score really changed the tone of the conversation.

I will check with other 3 schools tomorrow.

That is great news! Hopefully, your other three schools will also be flexible.

I’m curious (and I’m sure others are as well) - how did you prepare for the MCAT?

I hesitate to write this, because I am no expert. But here goes…

On preparing for the MCAT:

  1. Early January: I took a free MCAT practice test available on the AAMC MCAT website. My score: 25. I had a lot of learning to do.

  2. Rest of January: I read through all of the Kaplan books (my sister in law had them), to refresh my memory of general chemistry, organic, physics, and biology. Kaplan has very good review books.

  3. February through April: I took 8 more practice MCATs from the AAMC MCAT website. I took each test on paper, then entered the results online. The online system is great - after I entered my answers, I could go back and look at every question I got wrong and an explanation of the right answer. IMPORTANT: Every fact I had not seen before, I wrote down in a notebook. I did this after every test. First test, I had maybe 10 pages of notes. After each test, I had fewer and fewer notes. It took a while for me to commit things to memory. But it really helped.

    A few important learnings:

  • Trust your instinct. The right answer usually makes common sense. Especially in physics and G Chem.

  • Buy the AAMC MCAT tests. They are the best way to prepare.

  • Take many AAMC MCAT tests. After taking several tests, you will start to recognize questions and topics. Believe me you will. That’s really good, because you should fly through these questions on MCAT day.

  • Relax…Or at least try to. I know this is hard to do. The girl next to me began to cry near the end of the bio section. I felt really bad for her, because I’m sure she studied hard. But there is no need to stress.

    That’s it.

    Obviously, all of this means nothing, if none of the schools take me. So, my fingers are crossed…

Northwestern and U of Chicago are also willing to let my 10 year old pre-reqs slide. Interestingly, they both said that they like to see recent evidence of science research. But strong MCATs and grades can make up for it. Still, this clearly implies those schools look for evidence of research experience (more so than things like volunteer experience in a clinic). Sorry if this is obvious to all of you!

What do they mean by “research experience”?

I have worked in aerospace/mechanical engineering for the last 11 years, but never in a pure research capacity. However perhaps a med school’s definition of research is subjective relative to various professions. On a weekly basis throughout my career thus far I have ‘researched’ different ways of building or repairing parts or systems. I research material properties, research different construction configurations, do all the associated number crunching, etc. But within my profession that barely qualifies as ‘research’. However compared to certain other professions, perhaps my experience would be considered as research experience.

Strictly speaking, research refers to science research, as in biology or organic chemistry. That is according to the admin counselor at Northwestern.

The research you describe shows that you understand the generic steps required to conduct research. It may help… in fact the work I do in my field qualifies as research if you take a broad definition of the word research, and I will try to position it as related experience. However, I would NOT position as replacement for actual science research.

Hope this helps…