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LoR advice for the grad school- Help me!

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So, I do not plan to apply the grad school next year (2018).. Instead, I am going for 2019 and I want to prepare from now! The situation is really complicating... I finished my undergrad 2-3 years ago in US ... and currently, I am serving the air force back home in Korea.. When I finish my military service, I'd be off from the academics for almost 4 years so would it be possible for me to get 3 letters of recommendation letters from the professors? I'm worried because I wasn't the best student in the classes nor have been close to the professors. I have heard that some Graduate schools (or the graduate program) don't accept the letters of recommendation from academic field if you have been off for 5 years.. Is that true? Or should I reach to the professors for the LoR? The problem is that I can only contact with them through emails as I'm in service... Please give me some advice so I won't freak out!

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I can't help you too much, but I've never read anything regarding the "we don't accept LOR if you've graduated 5 years ago." I'm coming up on nearly 5 years since graduating and two of my LOR are from professors from my old UNI. I'm different from you in that I've stayed in contact with several professors since graduating. We are even facebook friends.

I think you should try to email the department secretary and go from there. Start with something along the lines of, ' "Hello, my name is ___. I plan on applying to grad programs for .... I attended ___ university from X year to Y year. I took classes from blah blah professors."  I hope you catch my drift, haha. 

If anything, applying 5 years after graduating, with some type of experience that makes you more sought after is best. A program will state if you graduated some time ago that your grades won't be a big factor. Try to get at least 1 LOR from a professor. I had to wrangle up 4 references because I've been gone for a while and have worked in different sectors. My professors can only attest to my abilities a little because 5 years is a LONG time. They have no idea how I've changed as a person. I've seen them once in those five years and they know of my journey, but a lot of context is still missing.

You have A LOT time to figure everything out. I don't like the idea of giving up before trying. I'm sorry, I wrote a lot and some of it might be useless, but please still try!

Good luck 

Edited by waltzforzizi

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I too have never heard of schools saying they won't accept LORs from schools if its been 5+ years since you graduated.  Are you applying to programs in the US?  If so you would be a nontraditional student, which basically means you aren't applying straight from undergrad and have work or military experience and are likely not in your early 20s.  Every program/field views nontraditional students differently.  It wouldn't hurt to reach out to some of your old professors and see if they would consider writing LORs for you, but keep your expectations low because its been awhile and you admit not being close with them or being the best student.  If you strike out there then think about others who can speak to your ability to handle academic work/research, stress/challenges, and your professionalism.  You can speak to the schools you are applying to about your circumstances and see what they are willing to accept, but keep in mind you may have to pitch them your own creative solutions. 

You don't say what field you're going into, but I'll share what I did if that helps.  I'm in Clinical Psychology and had been out of undergrad for over a decade.  I did a non research focused Master's and figured I could get all of my LORs from there.  Well thanks to unexpected pregnancies, sabbaticals, unplanned early retirement, and job transfers I could only get one LOR from there.  Thankfully I had volunteered at a research lab at another University and was able to get 2 others from supervisors there.  Some programs wanted a fourth LOR and I asked them if one from any of my community service projects (thankfully these were with populations related to my research interests) would work and they said ok.  

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