In terms of timing, if you have been placed on the waitlist, the best time to submit a letter of interest would be early May. Most medical schools require that students notify them of their decision by mid-April. Selection committees will be deliberating over who to accept from the waitlist if they do not have a full class by the end of April. Submitting a letter of interest by May would fit well into the admissions timeline—since they may be in the process of considering your application for acceptance at this time.
The best letters of interest:
1. Demonstrate your genuine interest and enthusiasm for this school and program. If you have not already done so, learn as much as you can about what this program can offer you in terms of a medical education and professional development opportunities. Comment on how you will benefit in these areas. Also, consider highlighting the ways that you will contribute to their class, community and institution. What skills, talents, hobbies or interests do you have that would support their mission and values? Are there any special interests or student groups that they do not currently offer that you are already involved in? Do you have connections to a university or community in another country where they might be interested in developing an exchange program?
2. Update the selection committee on any new developments. The types of new developments that they will be interested in will include: promotions, new grades, new awards or honors, and new publications or poster presentations. Even though you may feel sad or disappointed about being placed on the waitlist, it’s essential that you stay involved with all the activities that you love so that you can continue to build your credentials. Use this time to work even harder. It’s about the journey, not the destination. If you do your best, people will notice.
3. Address any weaknesses in your application that you have improved. If you haven’t already done so, this letter would be the best place to address anything in your application that may cause the selection committee to hesitate in offering you an acceptance. Only discuss the areas that you have already improved. It’s not a good strategy to bring their attention to your greatest weakness without having a solution or demonstrating progress in that area. Be strategic in covering ONLY those weak areas that you have improved.
4. Emphasize any personal connection you have to the area, school or community. If you have family or close friends in the area, family who attended the school, or a personal connection to the community for any reason, you can mention it. Knowing that a student already has a strong support system and will transition easily into the area can be a bonus. The selection committee wants to make sure they select the students who are most likely to succeed on their campus. Being familiar with the area, having a support system and connection to the school can lead to a much smoother transition.
Including these four “must-haves” in your letter of interest will help you address the selection committee’s areas of concern. The best letters anticipate any challenges or hesitations and address them effectively while demonstrating enthusiasm and loyalty to the school.
For more guidance, you are welcome to contact me or my colleagues at Accepted. I would be delighted to assist you in drafting an outline and reviewing your drafts before you submit them so that you are excited to submit your letter because it will represent you well. I wish you success!Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Want Alicia to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!