A Discussion on The LOI

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Aug 5, 2006
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I wanted to open up a discussion on the topic of the LOI. It seems to me, after searching through forums, that there is a lot of confusion about what it is, what it is used for, and what it means.

First, I feel a main confusion is the Letter of Interest vs. Letter of Intent. It seems to be used interchangeably and thus can be taken out of context.

A letter of interest would be, Dear Harvard, I want to go to your school because the weather in Boston is fantastic. Correct?

A letter of intent is, Dear Harvard, I will go to your school if I get in, even though I know it is currently cold as balls in Boston. Correct?

In looking outside SDN, I find little to no mention of letters of intent when applying to medical school. Every result from google is about MD/PhD programs, grad programs, etc. Wikipedia defines it as "a document outlining an agreement between two or more parties before the agreement is finalized." This leads me to believe that it may be something made up by med school applicants, and not encouraged nor considered by admissions committees.

The effect of the LOI is obviously debatable, and depends on the individual person and the individual school.

My personal opinion is that the letter of INTENT does not actually exist, and whatever you send a school is actually a letter of INTEREST, expressing how much you enjoyed your interview day, and how you would like to spend the next 4 years there. A school can't bind you to an LOI (as it is not a contract of any form). The "intent" is what you want to do, not what you will do. For example, a letter of intent for a PhD program says you intend to study the effect of reading too much SDN on the brain of the average 22 year old.

Nobody can answer whether it will get you in a school. However, I feel that there can be more information on what it really is and what it really means. Everyone's opinion is much appreciated. Thank you.


Even Kal has bad days...
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Jun 23, 2005
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You're right.

Letter of interest is "Hi I'm still very interested!"

And letter of intent is "Hi accept me and I promise I will matriculate."

Nothing is binding.