As a medical school admissions consultant, I often am asked by applicants how and when to communicate with medical schools. Medical school applicants should keep schools informed throughout the application process as events unfold and preferences evolve. If new information develops since submitting the primary application, applicants should inform the schools through an “update letter“. In addition, if applicants have been through the interview process and have a clear first choice they may write a “letter of intent” to let the school know that if they are admitted they will enroll.
But what is a “letter of interest”? By default, if you’ve applied to a particular school you have an interest in enrolling. But sometimes it’s worth reiterating your interest as the process unfolds, as you gather more information about schools you genuinely like based on your interview experiences. A letter of interest should come close in content to a letter of intent but stop short of expressing that you would enroll if admitted. The purpose of the letter is to convey to the school that it is very high on your list and that you would be thrilled to enroll.
No matter the letter—whether a letter of interest, letter of intent, or update letter—always start by thanking the committee for considering your application. Then proceed to get to the heart of the matter by conveying your interest in the school. Be specific about why you’re drawn to the school; for example, describe certain aspects of the curriculum and various programs that appeal to you. Generally speaking, these letters are about three paragraphs, and never more than one page.
If you have questions about writing letters and when it’s appropriate to do so, or if you want help writing a letter of interest or intent, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting