After the Medical School Interview: Thank-You Letters
Once your medical school interview is behind you, you may think that all you need to do is wait to hear the committee’s decision. However, there is another step you can take before you leave the decision in the hands of the admissions committee.
Your next task, and perhaps the last one you’ll have before you hear the decision, is to write letters to the interviewers.
The letter should include:
- A sentence or two thanking the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you. You can personalize this by mentioning a topic you enjoyed discussing with the interviewer.
- An update of your activities since you submitted your application
- A brief summary of the reasons you are interested in attending the school.
- A discussion about how your background and interests make you an excellent fit for the school.
Although e-mail is acceptable, a letter sent by regular mail written on actual paper is a bit more formal and personal.The letter should be brief; less than a page will generally suffice. If you do not have an e-mail or mailing address for the interviewers, send your correspondence to the recipient care of the admissions office. Also consider sending the Dean of Admissions a letter as well. Even if he or she did not interview you personally, they have a key role in the admissions process and expressing your appreciation for the opportunity to interview at the school and explaining why you would like to attend the school is appropriate.
Schools have varying policies on letters. Some medical schools encourage letters from interested students, others say nothing about the issue and finally, a few schools discourage letters. If the school asks that follow-up letters not be sent, then honor that.
I am sometimes asked about “Letters of Intent.” These letters differ from thank-you letters in that they express the applicant’s intention to attend the school if accepted. If you are absolutely sure that you will attend a particular medical school if accepted, then you may state this. However, if there is a chance that you may attend elsewhere, then do not make such a promise. The medical world is a surprisingly small one and you don’t want to start out your medical career making a statement that you do not follow through on.
Sending thank-you letters is an optional step in the application process. However, it is one that can make you more memorable to the interviewer and emphasize that you are truly interested in becoming a student at a particular medical school. After taking the MCAT, submitting primaries and secondaries and finally interviewing, the time investment to write a letter is minimal, but the payoff could be very significant.
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