Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A: I Submitted a Committee Letter, But Now…


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Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A: I Submitted a Committee Letter, But Now...

Session 88

Committee letters are typically comprised of several LORs from professors and faculty in a single packet. What do you do when you only receive a summary letter?

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[00:59] Question from Taylor

“I’m a current applicant for the 2020 cycle and my school does a committee letter. But it’s only one letter. And it is a reflection of like 10 to 12 people That’s the only letter I currently have because my research is through that and everything. We can’t have a letter other than that letter from our school if that makes sense. They have a policy where no one else can write us a letter other than the committee.

I thought that this was fine because it’s probably a strong letter. It includes my research. It includes all my professors and everything. But then I submitted some secondaries. And I got an email from one of my schools that I applied to, and they said, ‘Hey, Taylor, we looked at your letter, and it meets our minimum requirements, but I just want to let you know that your committee letter is only one letter and not a packet. You can submit more that it meets our minimum requirement.’ And I don’t have more. 

So do I need to focus on getting some more? Or is just one letter that includes hopefully everything I obviously can’t read. I don’t know what it says about research or anything. What do I need to do in this situation?”

[02:19] What Most Committees Do

Getting letters of recommendation is one of the most frustrating parts of this application process. Number one, you have to rely on other people to submit the letter in a timely manner. Number two, you have to rely on other people to hopefully say something nice about you. For most people, it’s not a problem.

Committee letters are way overblown, especially for students who are borderline with their grades or with their MCAT score. The students try to go get letters on their own, or they’re scared they can’t apply to medical school without that committee letter.

I believe what this school is telling you is that your committee only submitted one letter, instead of saying it’s a packet.

'What a lot of committees will do is they'll write their committee letter as an aggregation of all the nice things that are said about you.'Click To Tweet

Now, what a lot of committees will do is they will gather three or four letters that go into a committee letter. And then they will submit that letter as a packet with all of the other letters as well. So that is one big packet where you have everything that was said about you and all those other letters.

But if the school wants to go and look at those other letters, if maybe there was something that piqued their interest or that a question about something that the committee wrote, they can go and refer to the other letters.

Now, it sounds like your school just submitted one letter without all of those other letters that made up the committee letter.

So I wouldn’t worry about it. I wouldn’t go and try it the last minute to scramble and try to get more letters and flag on your application that you’re going to be submitting more letters. It’s just a different way that your committee handles it. It’s not the right way. It’s not the wrong way. It’s just the way that they do it.

[04:58] Getting a Job at the Medical School You’re Applying To

Taylor is also curious about doing more research as a job like a research assistant. And she’s wondering whether she should apply for a job at a medical school where she’s applying to be a student. And you’re basically free to do whatever you want.

“The only restriction when you're an applicant is just typically the communication with the medical school and with the admissions office as a current applicant.”Click To Tweet

Obviously, don’t stalk the admissions committee. But if a job there opens up and it’s a good fit for you and you enjoy it, then definitely go and apply. If the school allows updates, then you can definitely say you’re an applicant at UT and you got a job at their health science center.

[06:23] Sending Updates for Your Application

Taylor is also starting a teaching assistant job and she got hired before she submitted the AMCAS. But she put it on her AMCAS in case something happened with it. And she didn’t really know what class she’d be doing. She’d be having a presentation and possibly a publication too. So she’s wondering whether she should send an update to her school for each thing that’s happening or just one big update in December about everything.

In this case, just wait and aggregate everything together instead of bugging the school every two weeks.

“Send one big update and respect the school's specific rules and requirements around updates.”Click To Tweet

Look at each school as to what types of communications they will allow throughout the application season and how to communicate if they do allow it. But definitely try to do a little bit more bang for your buck and submit to one update that has a bunch of stuff. But try to keep it short and sweet because they’re super busy people.

[08:12] Concerned with Her Southerner Language

Taylor is also quite worried about slipping and saying “y’all” being a southerner but we’re all obviously in different parts of the country, We have different cultures, different dialects, different language.

You need to be you. If you said y’all every other word, then it’d be super annoying. And that may hurt you. But if you use y’all like other people would use y’all, then they know what you’re talking about. You’ll be perfect. Don’t worry about the use of words that may be more specific to different parts of the country.

'You be you and be comfortable speaking the way that you want to speak, obviously in a professional way.”Click To Tweet

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