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Should I use my school's committee letter?

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wadels

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So after going through the HPAC committee at my school, I got a 2 "Recommend with Reservations" on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the highest. My advisor told me that the committee's explanation of this rating was because I had a low GPA with a high MCAT and they felt that I did not reach my full potential in my undergrad (very fair assessment). However, this clarification will NOT be included on the cover letter. All that's on the cover letter is my rating and a little bit of background on who they are and what the looked at to arrive at their number score.

So, should I send my LORs with the cover letter or omit it?
 

Huggy

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out of the 21 secondaries that I have received, only two asked why I did not use a pre-medical committee letter (I don't have a premed committee). So, I assume that you can bypass the committee and just submit individually - but you might run across issues having to explain in secondaries and possibly in interviews why you didn't use the committee
 

billowthehusky

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Also be advised that some schools state something along the lines of "If your school offers a committee letter, you *must* use it."
 

MickyMyki

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If your school offers a committee letter, get one! Schools will be suspicious if you don't....
 

Govols22

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Unfortunately, reasons like this are probably why Med Schools prefer a committee letter and get sketched out if you avoid it.
 

Meeehai

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So after going through the HPAC committee at my school, I got a 2 "Recommend with Reservations" on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the highest. My advisor told me that the committee's explanation of this rating was because I had a low GPA with a high MCAT and they felt that I did not reach my full potential in my undergrad (very fair assessment). However, this clarification will NOT be included on the cover letter. All that's on the cover letter is my rating and a little bit of background on who they are and what the looked at to arrive at their number score.

So, should I send my LORs with the cover letter or omit it?

If you have strong LORs you should omit the committee letter. Don't go through another step of judgement, let the med school committees decide for themselves if you are a good candidate without some board stating your weaknesses. If asked about it in apps or interviews, tell them you believe your LORs speak for your skills and competencies well enough. Some people may have a different opinion, but I always advise against the committee letter - a lot of times the committee doesn't even really tell you what they're going to write on there, it might just harm your app.

However, be realistic about your application - if your GPA is too low, maybe you should consider some other options to improve it a little before applying. Either way, you can assess the strength of your own app without someone highlighting the weaknesses in a letter.
 

LizzyM

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If you have strong LORs you should omit the committee letter. Don't go through another step of judgement, let the med school committees decide for themselves if you are a good candidate without some board stating your weaknesses. If asked about it in apps or interviews, tell them you believe your LORs speak for your skills and competencies well enough. Some people may have a different opinion, but I always advise against the committee letter - a lot of times the committee doesn't even really tell you what they're going to write on there, it might just harm your app.

However, be realistic about your application - if your GPA is too low, maybe you should consider some other options to improve it a little before applying. Either way, you can assess the strength of your own app without someone highlighting the weaknesses in a letter.

Put on your critical thinking hat. Why do you think adcoms want the committee letter if the committee exists?
 
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Meeehai

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Put on your critical thinking hat. Why do you think adcoms want the committee letter if the committee exists?

A lot of times the committee is made up of advisers you guys typically talk down on for having limited knowledge and they try to review the app just like a med school committee would - I don't think this extra review is necessary. LORs should speak for the candidates strengths not point out some weakness that the med school committees can see and evaluate themselves.

Anyway, just my opinion. If you think he should include the committee letter to avoid suspicion then I understand.
 

Goro

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They may be idiots when it comes to giving advice for applying to med school, but they know the candidate and know how to write a letter of evaluation. I give them that much credit.


A lot of times the committee is made up of advisers you guys typically talk down on for having limited knowledge and they try to review the app just like a med school committee would - I don't think this extra review is necessary. LORs should speak for the candidates strengths not point out some weakness that the med school committees can see and evaluate themselves.

Anyway, just my opinion. If you think he should include the committee letter to avoid suspicion then I understand.
 
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LizzyM

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A lot of times the committee is made up of advisers you guys typically talk down on for having limited knowledge and they try to review the app just like a med school committee would - I don't think this extra review is necessary. LORs should speak for the candidates strengths not point out some weakness that the med school committees can see and evaluate themselves.

Anyway, just my opinion. If you think he should include the committee letter to avoid suspicion then I understand.

The committee provides a useful review of the applicant's academic record, disciplinary record, and often involves an interview as well. One of the real benefits is giving us a sense of this applicant in comparison to all other applicants from that school and to provide us with some of the nuances of the curriculum at that school. For example, Brown provides information about the typical sequence of pre-med courses taken by applicants to medical school as well as the more challenging options for meeting the pre-med requirements. Some schools also tell us where a student ranks in the entire graduation class which will sometimes help identify a school with grade deflation or inflation. Committees can also provide additional information that the applicant may have been hesitant to include in the personal statement. I recall an applicant who lost a parent in a car crash as the parent was returning home after dropping the student at school.
 
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Meeehai

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The committee provides a useful review of the applicant's academic record, disciplinary record, and often involves an interview as well. One of the real benefits is giving us a sense of this applicant in comparison to all other applicants from that school and to provide us with some of the nuances of the curriculum at that school. For example, Brown provides information about the typical sequence of pre-med courses taken by applicants to medical school as well as the more challenging options for meeting the pre-med requirements. Some schools also tell us where a student ranks in the entire graduation class which will sometimes help identify a school with grade deflation or inflation. Committees can also provide additional information that the applicant may have been hesitant to include in the personal statement. I recall an applicant who lost a parent in a car crash as the parent was returning home after dropping the student at school.

That's interesting, I did not consider the advantage of describing courses and rankings in the letter itself.
 

luckypenny555

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I'm sorry OP! I would say definitely use the committee letter, because schools are super uptight about it and it looks really bad if your school offers committee letters but you don't submit one. Unfortunately like everything else in this process it's another hoop to jump through, but hopefully your other letters of rec will reflect what a great person you are, and you could even mention something in your personal statement about the situation. Good luck, you'll make it through!!
 

TXhopeful

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Not matter how strong the letters of recommendation are from the docs you've shadowed, use your HPAC evaluation letter. I was on the fence about this after not hearing what I wanted (typical pre-med) from the HPAC advisor where I took 25 hours of post-bacc classes. Their letter this application cycle might be the "pull factor" that gets me some interviews with a low undergrad GPA. The committee are definitely pro-box checking, but for good reason. They get students into med school.
 

wizzed101

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@LizzyM What about committees that have no qualm about recommending a student with 4.0 GPA but 490 MCAT more highly than one with 3.75 GPA and 517 MCAT?

What if the letter is just a template? Like they have 6 templates and if they check 3 boxes, you get template #3. Do adcoms read all letter with equal attention or the first few letters are read more carefully? If you have very strong LORs (not from doctors), should you risk them being skimmed over because adcoms spent much time reading a lengthy but generic committee letter?
 

LizzyM

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@LizzyM What about committees that have no qualm about recommending a student with 4.0 GPA but 490 MCAT more highly than one with 3.75 GPA and 517 MCAT?

What if the letter is just a template? Like they have 6 templates and if they check 3 boxes, you get template #3. Do adcoms read all letter with equal attention or the first few letters are read more carefully? If you have very strong LORs (not from doctors), should you risk them being skimmed over because adcoms spent much time reading a lengthy but generic committee letter?

Believe me. I know the committee letters from my feeder schools. I know what is boilerplate and where the real meat of the letter is found. I can be very efficient in reading those letters. If a committee assigns a rating, it will tell me why it assigned that rating and in some instances will tell me what proportion of the pool were assigned to each category so I know if I'm looking at someone in the top 15% of the pool or the top 55% (the top 2 categories combined can be anywhere in that range and that's a wide range). If I'm looking at a letter, I'm not interested in the school's interpretation of the MCAT. I am interested in what the school has to say about the coursework the applicant took (was it the harder series of classes or the easier), the activities the applicant engaged in (was the applicant a founder or a leader of a group, or did they engage in pretty typical activities that 90% of the applicants from that school engage in). Some schools will provide me with some information about an interview with the applicant or how well they accept direction and constructive criticism.
 
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