kinzy

2+ Year Member
Jun 3, 2014
40
9
Status
Medical Student
Some of the programs to which I'm applying need a chair letter and other programs "strongly encourage it. " I have my 3 other letters uploaded but my chair letter won't be in until early October, due to his busy schedule. For the schools that need a chair letter, I'm comfortable applying on the 15th and submitting everything I have since I know they probably won't view my file til his chair letter is in.

However, my concern is, for the schools that "strongly encourage" the chair letter and require 3 other letters too, if I apply to them on the 15th with my 3 other letters, technically my file would be viewed as complete - even though I have a chair letter on the way. I am worried these schools could reject me before his letter is uploaded, and they wouldn't have even had a chance to know I have a chair letter on the way. Is it better to wait and apply to those specific schools that "strongly encourage" a chair letter only after his chair letter gets uploaded?

After searching the forums I've gotten the consensus it's always better to apply on the 15th to every program, but I didn't know if/how this applies to this situation? I also don't know if I should whether I should email those schools (if I do apply on the 15th) to let them know I have a chair letter on its way or if that is annoying to them? Or can I assign the chair letter in ERAS even though it's not been uploaded yet? It's confusing to me how much the chair letter matters in the initial interview invite process.

Sorry for my confusion! any help is very appreciated!
 
Last edited:

aProgDirector

Pastafarians Unite!
Moderator
10+ Year Member
Oct 11, 2006
8,280
7,155
Status
Attending Physician
There's no right answer. You are correct that programs may process your application without the chair letter, and once a decision is made they are unlikely to re-review your application. In fact, there's some chance that the programs that do require a chair letter will consider your application complete with 3 letters, review your application, see it is missing, and move on. So, probably a mix like you're suggesting spreads the risk.
 
OP
K

kinzy

2+ Year Member
Jun 3, 2014
40
9
Status
Medical Student
There's no right answer. You are correct that programs may process your application without the chair letter, and once a decision is made they are unlikely to re-review your application. In fact, there's some chance that the programs that do require a chair letter will consider your application complete with 3 letters, review your application, see it is missing, and move on. So, probably a mix like you're suggesting spreads the risk.
Hi @aProgDirector - Thanks for your help! A few more questions for you...

-Would it help if I emailed these programs on/before the 15th to let them know that a chair letter is incoming or would that not really help anything?

-Would it help if I just assigned 2 of my 3 letters to those schools that encourage a chair letter, so that they see I submitted my app on the 15th (although it would be an incomplete app given that only 2/3 of the non-chair letters would be in..) and then assign my final non-chair letter at the same time as I assign the chair letter (i.e. early Oct) thus completing my application at that point? I'm trying to figure out the lesser of two evils so to speak - an app that is prematurely viewed as complete (3 letters, but no chair letter) or an app that is viewed as being completed later (like in early Oct, but with a chair letter).

-Is it typical for applicants to have some letters get into ERAS a few weeks after the 15th or do you tend to see that most applicants have all their letters in on the 15th when they submit?
 

aProgDirector

Pastafarians Unite!
Moderator
10+ Year Member
Oct 11, 2006
8,280
7,155
Status
Attending Physician
Hi @aProgDirector - Thanks for your help! A few more questions for you...

-Would it help if I emailed these programs on/before the 15th to let them know that a chair letter is incoming or would that not really help anything?
No, this would just be annoying.

-Would it help if I just assigned 2 of my 3 letters to those schools that encourage a chair letter, so that they see I submitted my app on the 15th (although it would be an incomplete app given that only 2/3 of the non-chair letters would be in..) and then assign my final non-chair letter at the same time as I assign the chair letter (i.e. early Oct) thus completing my application at that point? I'm trying to figure out the lesser of two evils so to speak - an app that is prematurely viewed as complete (3 letters, but no chair letter) or an app that is viewed as being completed later (like in early Oct, but with a chair letter).
As mentioned above, there's no right answer. You could submit 9/15 with no letters, then assign all of your letters when available. But whether that's "better" than applying 9/15 with 3 letters is anyone's guess -- it will depend upon how each program processes their applications, which you don't know.

-Is it typical for applicants to have some letters get into ERAS a few weeks after the 15th or do you tend to see that most applicants have all their letters in on the 15th when they submit?
A mix. One could ask why your chair letter isn't ready now. Most chairs know the deadline, and know to have them all done by now. If your chair writes late letters for everyone, then likely PD's know that and are expecting a late letter. If only yours will be late, that's less than ideal.