After you have submitted your primary medical school application through AMCAS, there are two ways to convey your continued interest in certain medical schools – the letter of interest or letter of intent. Although the general content of both of these letters will be very similar, there are some important differences to be mindful of when writing letters to medical schools.
Why write a letter of interest or letter of intent?
A letter of interest or letter of intent conveys to medical schools your level of interest. Thus, it is useful in cases where you truly enjoyed your experience at a particular medical school. Every medical school is different. The process of medical school admissions does not simply boil down to medical schools liking you, but also finding medical schools that you fit well in. If you have not yet heard from schools in terms of an interview invitation, then a letter of interest or letter of intent may be appropriate to convey your continued interest.
What is the difference between a letter of intent and letter of interest?
The main difference between a letter of interest and letter of intent is the nature of commitment. In short, a letter of intent demonstrates a higher degree of commitment compared to a letter of interest. Using Queen Beyoncé’s own words, a letter of intent is like “putting a ring on it.” If that medical school says, “I do” and accepts you off of a waitlist, you are promising to attend that medical school. Although I have no specifics of the consequences of violating a letter of intent, committing to a school then pulling out usually does not bode well on you as a candidate. For more information about writing a letter of intent, I’ve gone over 5 tips for writing a letter of intent.
On the other hand, letters of interest are like Valentine’s Day cards. You can write multiple letters of interest. The main difference is to not include that you intend to attend the medical school if accepted off the waitlist. Otherwise, your letter of interest can include all the content you would include in a letter of intent — the reasons why you love the medical school, why you are qualified, etc.
When should you write either a letter of intent or letter of interest?
In line with the nature of the commitment of each letter, you should probably wait for all your waitlist notifications or acceptances before writing a letter of intent. For example, say you write a letter of intent to Medical School X before realizing you were waitlisted at Medical School Y. It is hard to take back your letter if Medical School Y was actually your dream medical school. On the other hand, feel free to send a letter of interest earlier.
Letters of interest are signifying your interest in a medical school and are less committal, thus there is generally less risk in sending them. However, avoid sending multiple letters of intent to a single medical school. Letters of interest and updates letters are separate entities. For example, if you already sent a letter of interest but have updates that are worth sharing, feel free to submit an update letter. Otherwise, hold off. Too many letters of interest are like too much sugar in tea. While good in moderation, overdoing it will weaken your application if done in excess. Ultimately, you don’t want to give the admissions committee a reason to not accept you.
Does the letter of intent or letter of interest make a difference?
The medical school admissions process is mysterious and painstaking, to say the least. The difference writing a letter of interest of letter of intent may make is hard to say. However, if you have a particular interest in certain medical schools, making your commitment or interests known is important. If a certain medical school is your dream program, and you still have not heard from them late in the cycle, writing a letter of intent stating your interest may be warranted.
For assistance writing a letter of intent or letter of interest, Med School Insiders offers highly effective editing and advising services to maximize their impact.