• SDN Site Updates

    Hey everyone! The site will be down for approximately 2 hours on Thursday, August 5th for site updates.

dantt

Member
15+ Year Member
Jun 28, 2006
809
72
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
I'm sure revisiting this topic is like beating a dead horse but maybe you guys can give me some help with my dilemma.

Let's say I were waitlisted at both Stanford, my top choice, and UCSD, not my top choice. How unethical would or would it not be to write letters of intents to both schools? It is unfortunate the nature of medical school admissions even creates these dilemmas. I personally don't think such letters should have any effect on admissions yet the situation has arisen where they are almost necessary for admission to some schools.

Choice #1. Write a letter of intent to Stanford, really my top choice school, knowing my chances at that school are slim to none. The other applicants are fantastic and I suspect few would relinquish a spot at that school for waitlisters. Meanwhile, I don't write the letter to UCSD almost guaranteeing I don't get accepted while other people who "really" want to go to UCSD write their letters and gain the edge. Most likely, I'm left holding an empty bag.

Choice#2 Write the letter to UCSD telling them they are my first choice when in fact, they are not. It would be insane going to UCSD over Stanford. Stanford = more liberal grading, less clinical hours, less money (fantastic financial aid).

Choice #3. Doing the "unethical" thing maximizing my chance to get into any school.

Damn I hate the admissions process. It would be better if these letters had no effect, then I wouldn't be pressured into this situation.
 

NickRiviera

MS-Never
10+ Year Member
Feb 2, 2007
321
0
Springfield, IL
Status (Visible)
Choice #4: Realize you didn't get in to those schools. Maybe for good reason as you're willing to jump into the unethical to get in anyway.

I kid, I kid... Might as well do it.
 
About the Ads

Stolenspatulas

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Sep 5, 2006
1,696
9
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Write a strong letter of interest to both.

Write a strong letter of interest to UCSD, write a letter of intent to stanford.

How are you so sure these letters of intent work so well at UCSD? Its all hearsay that they work at all.
 

Dooooom

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 14, 2006
150
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
I say write the same letter of intent for both schools, but dont forget to change the name of the school at the top!!! Admissions isn't dumb, but you need to show interest in order for them to show interest in you.
 

Encrypted

Full Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2006
150
2
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Do the unethical thing once and then for the rest of your life be doing the ethical thing (saving lives).
 

HumbleMD

hmmmm...
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Sep 22, 2006
2,574
29
East Coast
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
I think you're kidding yourself with how neccessary a Letter of Intent is. Most people gain acceptances by having incredible applications. If it's a top school with people beating down the door to get in, then why would someone pledging to attend if accepted make then change their mind for you? Go with Spatula's advice. Write a letter of intent to one, and a letter of interest to another. Don't lie. Not only is it a disservice to yourself, it's a disservice to to other applicants who will someday be your (more scrupulous) colleagues.
 

notdeadyet

Still in California
15+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2004
11,777
1,995
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
It is unfortunate the nature of medical school admissions even creates these dilemmas.
There's no dilema. A dilema is when you're forced to choose between two viable choices. You're looking at doing the right thing or lying. This is not a dilema.

I personally don't think such letters should have any effect on admissions yet the situation has arisen where they are almost necessary for admission to some schools.
You've got some bad sources. They're never necessary unless you're on a waitlist. And even then, they're of very arguable value.

Damn I hate the admissions process. It would be better if these letters had no effect, then I wouldn't be pressured into this situation.
The pressure is self-imposed. I'd venture that most applicants don't lie and send multiple LOIs. Don't sell out now; you have a lifetime ahead of you.

And incidentally, the cheating you're talking about is not victimles. If your dishonest LOI gets you in, it in effect robs an admission from the person that would have received it had you told the truth.
 

notdeadyet

Still in California
15+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2004
11,777
1,995
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Do the unethical thing once and then for the rest of your life be doing the ethical thing (saving lives).
Nonsense. If you're of such dubious morals that you're consciously and unnecessarily lying for an arguable hedge in medical school admissions at 22, the odds of you suddenly turning honest and noble and 26 is very dubious.

Admissions probably feels like a huge stressor, but in the big picture, it's more along the lines of a frustrating annoyance. If you buckle under and lie/cheat to cope with it now, you're kidding yourself if you think you're going to change your tune and become more ethical later.

Write a strong letter of interest to UCSD, write a letter of intent to stanford.
Stolenspatulas has the right idea. That's why there are both letters of interest and letters of intent.

The reason the game can feel so dirty is because people cheat. Don't be part of the problem.
 

pyrois

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2006
673
2
Berkeley, CA
Status (Visible)
To be honest, I wouldn't write a letter of intent to either. A simple letter of interest would be the best way to go.

Stanford has one of the highest retention rates amongst all the schools (third only to Mayo Clinic and Harvard). I doubt they will be impressed, or even surprised that you want to go there.

Sending a letter of interest to UCSD actually may make a difference considering they move 2 entire class sizes worth of students off of their waitlist. Writing a letter of intent to UCSD immediately says "i got rejected from my top choice school." I understand that UCSD is the number 1 choice for some people, but for the vast majority, UCLA would be equivalently pleasant, and UCSF takes care of nor cal folk. Or hey, even Stanford.

Either way, a letter of interest essentially says "I haven't gotten accepted anywhere better yet, still think I am a solid applicant for better/equivalent schools, but I'm still looking forward to hearing from you."

The later in the season that you write your letter of interests, the more powerful they will be (you know... after 200 students have turned down UCSD, you may look a little more enticing to the committee).
 

dantt

Member
15+ Year Member
Jun 28, 2006
809
72
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
There's no dilema. A dilema is when you're forced to choose between two viable choices. You're looking at doing the right thing or lying. This is not a dilema.


You've got some bad sources. They're never necessary unless you're on a waitlist. And even then, they're of very arguable value.


The pressure is self-imposed. I'd venture that most applicants don't lie and send multiple LOIs. Don't sell out now; you have a lifetime ahead of you.

And incidentally, the cheating you're talking about is not victimles. If your dishonest LOI gets you in, it in effect robs an admission from the person that would have received it had you told the truth.

You seem to have some reading comprehension problems.

I listed 3 choices, LOI to top choice knowing it's almost useless, LOI to 2nd not really wanting to go there, LOI to both to even the odds with other applicants who do it (THEY DO).

I talked to students at some of the schools I interviewed at. They got in through LOI's. This is especially true at schools like Columbia.

If it's true that a dishonest LOI robs admission from a person that would have received admission, it's a statement to how broken the system is.

Prisoners dilemma. You either win or break even writing the LOI. If you don't, you either break even or lose.
 

PugMD

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Nov 9, 2006
360
0
Virginia
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
LOI = LAMO "Letter for ADCOM Masturbation ONLY"

I really don't see why you guys waste so much time sending these things out. I know it probably tickles the ADCOM's pickle that you are so impressed by their school, but the thousands of applications they've received probably do even better. Unless you are planning on including pics of your genitalia I'd spend my time making soap bar sculptures.
 
About the Ads

TSK

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
May 25, 2006
372
1
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
The admissions process isn't pressuring you into anything. There's always the option of doing the unethical thing, unless of course you're making the argument that options force one to be unethical...
 

pyrois

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2006
673
2
Berkeley, CA
Status (Visible)
I talked to students at some of the schools I interviewed at. They got in through LOI's.

Nobody ever knows why they got into the schools they got into unless they have a videotape of the ADCOM meeting about them.

I would argue a letter of interest = letter of intent in weight.
 

notdeadyet

Still in California
15+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2004
11,777
1,995
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
You seem to have some reading comprehension problems.
Actually, I read you loud and clear, dantt. I just disagree with you.

I listed 3 choices, LOI to top choice knowing it's almost useless, LOI to 2nd not really wanting to go there, LOI to both to even the odds with other applicants who do it (THEY DO).
Sorry if I was unclear. The first two choices are obviously fine. The last one is the one that is ethically dodgy, even if THEY DO. If THEY jumped off a bridge... well, never mind.

I talked to students at some of the schools I interviewed at. They got in through LOI's.
Some, like pyrois, might say that you talked to students who got in who submitted LOIs. That's not the same thing.

If it's true that a dishonest LOI robs admission from a person that would have received admission, it's a statement to how broken the system is.
Yeah, we understand each other. We just look at honesty differently.

Your logic can be used to justify cheating, lying, and all sorts of nastiness that's probably best to avoid. Just because you're having a tough time getting in to med school (I'm in that boat too) doesn't justify lying and breaking your word just to get in. Period. It's actually pretty black and white.

But again, different strokes. I wish you the best of luck getting in to the med school of you dreams. But trust me, the victory will taste far sweeter if it's come by honestly. Go with option 1 or 2. Leave 3 for the chumps.
 

dantt

Member
15+ Year Member
Jun 28, 2006
809
72
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Thanks for all your responses. I will only be writing letters of interest to schools I felt very warm about.

But FYI, letters of intent do exist...it is just debatable to what extent they affect admissions decisions. Talking to the director of admissions at cornell, he suggested they could play a role depending upon the circumstances. He didn't say, no LOI = no admission or vice versa but he (all the admissions directors) know the game and how to navigate it.
 

mountainhare

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2006
199
3
a burrow in the mountains, obviously
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
Thanks for all your responses. I will only be writing letters of interest to schools I felt very warm about.

But FYI, letters of intent do exist...it is just debatable to what extent they affect admissions decisions. Talking to the director of admissions at cornell, he suggested they could play a role depending upon the circumstances. He didn't say, no LOI = no admission or vice versa but he (all the admissions directors) know the game and how to navigate it.

There's really no need for me to add anything to this thread after Stolenspatula's very concise and correct answer, but I just wanted to say that some people *do* get in by writing LOI's. I, personally, was on a waitlist and I wrote some letters of interest to the adcom of that school. Nothing happened. Then I wrote a letter of intent. The dean of admissions summoned me to his office and asked if I really meant what I had said in my letter of intent, and I said yes. Then he gave me an acceptance letter. This, I think, is at least as good a piece of evidence as the videotape a previous poster requested. :)

No, letters of intent don't "work" equally well at all schools. But the OP *is* right to believe they do "work" at some places. Anecdotal evidence I've gathered over the years suggests that, among top schools, WashU and Columbia are probably the most susceptible to letters of intent. (Of course, an LOI will do absolutely no good if you weren't a very strong candidate to begin with.) I don't know enough about other schools to really comment on them, but I imagine that schools with "less desirable" locations are more likely to pay attention to an LOI than schools without. E.g., if you are a California resident who is on a waitlist at a school in a less nice state, an LOI may be what it takes to convince them that you wouldn't turn down an acceptance if they gave one to you. I base everything I say on what I've heard adcom deans say or what my friends have heard adcom deans say.
 

HumbleMD

hmmmm...
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Sep 22, 2006
2,574
29
East Coast
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
Nobody's debating whether or not Letters of Intent "exist" or "work." Obviosuly they exist, and yes, many would concede that they hold some weight at certain schools (My own interviewer at Emory professed to getting in off a wait list on one - after meeting with the dean). The key points which are simple yet for some reason unobvious: LOIs are effective in getting in off a wait list, not in getting an interview, and probably not for the initial admissions decision; Don't write more than one!

From my own anecdote above, and mountainhare's below, it's interesting that in both cases the LOI was followed by a meeting with an admissions dean asking for the validity of it. Thus, unless you're ready to lie to someone's face, stick to one.

Alternatively, I avoid intent letters altogether - we've seen people later getting into other places after thoughtlessly writing an LOI. My rule is this: write an LOI if you would go to said school, even if given a full tuition scholarship and acceptance to other schools you applied to.

I have to agree with notdead - there's no dilemma here. You walk by how many people a day, and don't consider the "dilemma" of whether or not you shoud strangle them.

And OP, quit trying to blame your own lack of scruples on "the game." What a load of poo-hucky. Maybe you aren't getting in to where you want because they can see what an unethical liar you are (embellish at all in your PS or EC list, too?).
 

Dookter

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
May 21, 2005
1,042
3
Status (Visible)
Write a strong letter of interest to UCSD, write a letter of intent to stanford.

I'd say do this. Schools do notice when you show interest in them. I have heard of people in my class showing huge interest through certain ways I'll not mention and then getting accepted. It works.
 

PathOne

Derminatrix
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
May 10, 2004
833
2
Skin City
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Personally, I don't think either school cares how or if you declare your undying love to them. I think either Stanford nor UCSD are unlikely to have an empty seat due to your actions, or lack of same.

However, more troubling: If YOU percive your possible actions as unethical, why are you even contemplating wether you want to do it? Trust me, there'll be vastly greater, and more complex, ethical problems to cope with in your possible future career. And not being able to do the right thing when you yourself in your question basically give the answer, is quietly disconcerting.
 

mountainhare

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2006
199
3
a burrow in the mountains, obviously
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
LOIs are effective in getting in off a wait list, not in getting an interview, and probably not for the initial admissions decision; Don't write more than one!

I agree with a lot of what HumbleMD said, but I'd have to disagree with the above. There was a school I didn't hear from for many months after I submitted my secondary; then, in late January, I wrote them a letter of interest (a pretty weak letter of interest, along the lines of "I think your school's cool and I'd love to get an interview invite," but still), and they e-mailed me the following week with an interview invite. You might chalk this up to coincidence, but I give some credit to the letter of interest, especially since I've heard of other people with similar stories.

Basically, my thought is: letters of interest don't hurt; they can either help or be neutral (assuming you want to go to the school, that is), so why not write them? You're not committing yourself to anything; all you're saying is "I just wanted to remind you that I think your school is cool." Letters of intent, of course, are a whole other ballgame, and I would refrain from writing them unless you are 150% sure you'd attend the school in question.

And good luck to the OP!
 

dantt

Member
15+ Year Member
Jun 28, 2006
809
72
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Thanks everybody.

It's interesting that a couple of you mentioned meeting with an admissions dean after a letter of intent. In what situation would you be able to meet with a dean? You get a call telling you to fly to xxx? It seems impractical.

This situation described was hypothetical. I used Stanford/UCSD as an extreme case where they are both great/hard to get into schools but it almost no brainer to go to one over the other. I've yet to be waitlisted at any school but considering the competitiveness of a lot of schools I'm applying to, it may be the case when many of the non-rolling admissions schools make their decisions.
 

Dookter

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
May 21, 2005
1,042
3
Status (Visible)
Thanks everybody.

It's interesting that a couple of you mentioned meeting with an admissions dean after a letter of intent. In what situation would you be able to meet with a dean? You get a call telling you to fly to xxx? It seems impractical.

This situation described was hypothetical. I used Stanford/UCSD as an extreme case where they are both great/hard to get into schools but it almost no brainer to go to one over the other. I've yet to be waitlisted at any school but considering the competitiveness of a lot of schools I'm applying to, it may be the case when many of the non-rolling admissions schools make their decisions.

I know someone who met with one of the Admissions higher-ups after being waitlisted. So it's definitely been done. It's something you'd have to try to arrange....
 

Dr. Dukes

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Sep 24, 2006
916
1
The hall in which Odin received the souls of slain
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
Write a vague letter to both schools. Spell out the reasons you like each school (I like your school for X, Y, and Z reasons). Make the reasons specific for each school, and make the letter honest.
At the bottom say something similar to: Since I left campus after my interview, I realized that in looking for the school that offers the best fit, I have tried to find a place where I will succeed socially as well as academically. I believe I have found this at ______, and I hope you realize just how much I am looking forward to hopefully matriculating.

Something like this says you like the school, and you want to go. Its close to a letter of intent, but isn't a lie. It is the truth that you want to matriculate at both UCSF and Stanford, you just want one a little bit more.
 

HumbleMD

hmmmm...
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Sep 22, 2006
2,574
29
East Coast
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
Thanks everybody.

It's interesting that a couple of you mentioned meeting with an admissions dean after a letter of intent. In what situation would you be able to meet with a dean? You get a call telling you to fly to xxx? It seems impractical.

This situation described was hypothetical. I used Stanford/UCSD as an extreme case where they are both great/hard to get into schools but it almost no brainer to go to one over the other. I've yet to be waitlisted at any school but considering the competitiveness of a lot of schools I'm applying to, it may be the case when many of the non-rolling admissions schools make their decisions.
Yeah, she flew down to Atlanta from Indiana. At the end of the day he did offer her amission, but a $200 plane ticket is small potoatoe compared to 4 years of happiness at your school.
 

diosa428

SDN Angel
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 24, 2005
2,662
9
Status (Visible)
I mostly agree with what's been said above, but I really would like to caution you not to write two letters of intent. If you are accepted to both schools, the one that you turn down could contact the one that you choose to go to and tell them that you sent a letter of intent. If the schools find out you wrote two letters, they could both withdraw their offers of admission. Write a letter of intent to your top choice and a strong letter of interest to the other.
 

FrostNJ

New Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Aug 17, 2006
19
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
Not to fuel the fire anymore to this debate, but if in that impossible "best case scenario" where you were accepted to two schools: 1 with a letter of intent and 1 with a letter of interest, and the one with a letter of interest offers you significantly more money, do you believe you are bound to the school with the letter of intent? I think monetary factors are things you cannot predict in the letter writing process, in which case a letter of intent may give an unfair advantage to a student with less financial burdens. I also understand that the pretenses of your acceptance (auto matriculation) obviously come into play. Just food for thought.
 

HumbleMD

hmmmm...
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Sep 22, 2006
2,574
29
East Coast
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
Not to fuel the fire anymore to this debate, but if in that impossible "best case scenario" where you were accepted to two schools: 1 with a letter of intent and 1 with a letter of interest, and the one with a letter of interest offers you significantly more money, do you believe you are bound to the school with the letter of intent? I think monetary factors are things you cannot predict in the letter writing process, in which case a letter of intent may give an unfair advantage to a student with less financial burdens. I also understand that the pretenses of your acceptance (auto matriculation) obviously come into play. Just food for thought.

Are you Fing kidding me? If you write a letter of intent, you are pledging to attend no matter what the circumstances. If you wouldn't attend given another acceptance with a full ride, then don't write the LOI. It's sad that people don't think a "promise" or one's "word" means anything anymore.
 

narc

Full Member
10+ Year Member
May 26, 2006
1,020
1
Status (Visible)
I mostly agree with what's been said above, but I really would like to caution you not to write two letters of intent. If you are accepted to both schools, the one that you turn down could contact the one that you choose to go to and tell them that you sent a letter of intent. If the schools find out you wrote two letters, they could both withdraw their offers of admission. Write a letter of intent to your top choice and a strong letter of interest to the other.

Write two. No admissions officer is going to give a flying **** if you wrote another school a LOI. They have soo many other people willing to sell their unborn child's soul to get in. A possible ethical concern regarding two LOI's would never make it into a discussion. These people are far too busy to call up another school, it would be far too much work.

Has anyone ever come back here and said holy crap i wrote two LOI and got into both and the schools found out blah blah blah... i was rejected by both? No.

Do what ever you want. Nobody here can make a decision for you here.
 
About the Ads
This thread is more than 14 years old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.