The medical school admissions process can be long and never-ending. You take all the medical school pre-requisites, pass the MCAT, participate in excellent clinical experiences, take a couple years to do cutting-edge research, submit your AMCAS, write several secondary application essays, fly all around the country for interviews, and then…WAITLISTED!! That gray area of not being accepted or rejected can stir up a mixture of emotions. Should you be happy, sad, excited, angry, or a mixture of everything?
Being waitlisted might make you feel helpless. The ball is in the medical school’s court. They do not even tell you when you might get off the waitlist. This period can be full of anxiety. However, if you feel passionate about attending a certain medical school at which you were waitlisted, there is one last play you could make to give them a reason to accept you: the letter of intent. If crafted carefully, a letter of intent can make the difference in persuading the admission’s committee to give you a seat at the medical school. Below are five tips to keep in mind when writing a letter of intent.
1 | The Letter of Intent = Commitment
Although the letter of intent is not a legally binding document, the “intent” part of the letter indicates you plan to attend that school if you were accepted off the waitlist. If this is not the case, a letter of interest is more appropriate. So, only send a letter of intent if you are ABSOLUTELY sure that you would attend the school if accepted and have no doubts.
2 | Emphasize Why This Medical School Is Your Dream School
This should be the main focus of your letter. Why did you fall in love with that particular medical school? Is it something about their mission? Are there particular opportunities that make it unique? Is it a place in which you know you can thrive? Did you have any interactions that made you realize this was your dream school? BE SPECIFIC. Show them why you need to be at that school versus the other schools you have been accepted to. Other candidates on the waitlist for that school are probably excellent candidates too, but you need to show them why YOU need to be in that school versus the other candidates. Mention not only what the school can give you, but what you can bring to the school also.
3 | Provide Updates About Significant accomplishments
Flaunt your accomplishments. Did you win any new academic honors? Did you publish a new article? Were you selected to sit on a committee? Remember, you are your best advocate. Don’t be afraid to toot your horn a little. If there were any weaknesses in your application, perhaps mention some ways that you have worked to ameliorate them. For example, if your weakness was a lower number of hours devoted to clinical experiences, mention the 100+ hours of volunteering that you did this past month.
4 | Be Creative
Everything about the medical admissions process is about sticking out. So, even though there are hundreds of templates for writing letters of intent, try to channel yourself through the letter and write it in a way such that the admissions committee knows that it was you who wrote the letter. So, don’t be afraid to be yourself and be honest about why you love the school so much. Put a humorous spin on it if you are a funny person. Write a poem about why you love the school. The options are endless as long as you are yourself.
5 | Go Big or Go Home
The letter of intent is your last-ditch effort to persuade the admissions committee to accept you. So, be as risky as you want to be. If you have acceptances at other medical schools, you can perhaps afford to be riskier with your letter of intent since you have nothing to lose. If you don’t have other acceptances from medical schools, you may want to take a more cautious approach. Either way, think of this as your last say in the process.
As a last reminder, you should only write a letter of intent if you will go to the school if accepted. If not, write a letter of interest, which can be very similar to a letter of intent. However, in a letter of interest, you would not mention that you will attend the school if accepted. In a letter of intent, you must literally say, “If accepted, I intend to attend Medical School X.”
Being waitlisted after the long medical school admissions process can be a hard pill to swallow, but don’t give up! Submitting a letter of intent along with other supporting material can get you across the finish line into your dream medical school.