The premed committee letter is supposed to help you with your application to med school. Personally, I think it does the opposite, but what is it? Do you need to use it if the school offers it? How important is it? Should this be something to consider when you’re applying to an undergraduate school?
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[00:50] No Committee Letter, No Problem
If you’re an undergrad that has a pre-health office, they may or may not offer you a chance of a committee letter.
If they don’t offer you one then great. If you’re thinking of transferring to an undergrad institution, if you’re a high school student thinking where to go to for undergrad don’t think of going to a school based on whether or not they give a committee letter, then it shouldn’t be a part of your decision algorithm.
[01:30] What is a Committee Letter?
If a school offers a committee letter, they will typically collect letters of recommendation that you’ve submitted based on what they tell you to collect. So you go out and ask for letters of recommendation and you will have them sent to the pre-health office.
Once the letters are received, most pre-health offices will have some hoops that you have to jump through to get a committee letter. They might want to see your MCAT score or your application. Sometimes it could be their own format. Or it could be the real application you get printed out to see if you’ve done your work. They do this because they don’t want to take the time to write a committee letter for a student who isn’t serious about getting into medical school.“They want to make sure you’re serious and you application is ready to go and that you’re going to use committee letter that they write.”Click To Tweet
[03:08] What the Prehealth Office Does
Some schools will also have these barriers of entry, like the GPA or MCAT score, whether or not they write one. So the prehealth office then reads those letters and they take different pieces of information which they think is important for them to convey to the medical schools.
Schools do this differently. The University of Colorado, for instance, includes the original letters to the committee letter. And they will try to refer the reader back to the original letter they wrote. Other schools won’t include the individual letters and they will write everything in their committee letter.
[04:30] The Problem with Committee Letters
The biggest thing with committee letters is they’re all watered down. If I were reading these, I would want to read straight from the horse’s mouth what a teacher, physician, or supervisor is saying about the student. I wouldn’t want to read what the advisor is telling me what the physicians said.“It’s a big giant game of telephone. We play this game as elementary students to see how screwed up the message gets from one person to the next.”Click To Tweet
Like the telephone game we used to play in elementary school where the message gets screwed up as it gets from one person to another, this is the same thing we do with committee letters.
[05:25] Your Application Could Just Sit There
That is how committee letters work. The schools offer them and then you follow their instructions. You need to turn in the committee letters early. You need to find out how early you need to submit them and figure out what to do to get to the front of the line to get them early.“Some schools aren’t submitting them until August or September and your application is just sitting there.”Click To Tweet
It’s annoying how you are relying on the pre-health office to make sure that your application is complete. That hurts a lot. So make sure that you figure out what those timelines are for your specific pre-health office.
[06:22] Do You Need to Use It If the School Offers a Committee Letter?
No, you don’t have to. Should you? Probably. You don’t want to run into any situation where a medical school, however unlikely it is, that an interviewer will question why you don’t have a committee letter when the applicant who came before you who comes from the same school as yours has a committee letter. In this case, you might as well just use that committee letter.'If your school offers it, go ahead and use it.'Click To Tweet