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Update letters: To the point, or descriptive?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by breakintheroof, 09.26.14.

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  1. breakintheroof

    breakintheroof MS-Zero 2+ Year Member

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    How long should update letters be? I would appreciate opinions on whether they should be as short as possible to save time for the reader, or more descriptive to describe the significance of the update and its relevance to the school.

    For example, if one were writing about a recent publication . . .

    To the point: "Dear Man's Greatest Medical School, I am writing to inform you that a manuscript has been accepted for publication with my name on it. Here is the citation. Thank you for your consideration."

    Descriptive: "Dear Man's Greatest Medical School, I am writing to you because I am extremely interested in being educated at your program. I am excited to tell you that some of my current group's work has been published, and here is the citation. The project was all about this really cool thing, and I am grateful that I had the chance to make this awesome contribution. Doing all of this research makes me think about how great it would be to be a student at your school and how wonderful it would be to be mentored by one of your amazing faculty members . . . (etc.)"

    What does everyone think?
     
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  3. Afford

    Afford

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    Number 1. The second one sounds like brown nosing,
     
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  4. Alfie99

    Alfie99 2+ Year Member

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    I think you can be more detailed than #1, but I wouldn't brown-nose. I'd keep the the email very professional, perhaps stating a sentence or two what impact the research may have on the scientific or medical community, if applicable. If you're not first author, it would be useful to know what contribution YOU made to the publication.
     
  5. xffan624

    xffan624 2+ Year Member

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    Short and sweet and to the point. A principle that you will learn in life is the longer a message the less likely is that someone will actually read it. What is the point you are trying to make? You got published and you want to attend their school. Do that in as short a space as possible or less (ie. somewhere between the two examples you posted).

    This is assuming that the school accepts update and/or interest letters. If they only accept updates then stick to the "to the point" example.
     
  6. breakintheroof

    breakintheroof MS-Zero 2+ Year Member

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    Thank you for your replies, my friends. @xffan624 I think you have hit the nail on the head. What I am envisioning is an update letter that also includes an expression of interest.

    How about this level of detail:

    "Dear Man's Greatest Medical School, I am writing to tell you that a manuscript on which I am an author has been published, and here is the citation. The project was all about this subject, and I made such-and-such a contribution. I hope I can contribute to research at your school next year. Thank you for your consideration."
     
  7. ndafife

    ndafife 2+ Year Member

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    You took the time to pay application fees, fill out secondaries, etc... They know you are interested in going there. It is just a redundant statement that adds absolutely nothing to your letter.
     
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  8. breakintheroof

    breakintheroof MS-Zero 2+ Year Member

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    I see your point, but I disagree somewhat. The school knows that I am interested in going there, but they also want to know why. In sending an update that is relevant to my particular interest in a school, I think it could help to make that clear.
     
    Salt Salt likes this.
  9. nemo123

    nemo123 5+ Year Member

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    Number 1... To be honest, it's questionable whether update letters even get read by anyone based on my experience (let alone if they're long).
     
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  10. breakintheroof

    breakintheroof MS-Zero 2+ Year Member

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    I see the lurking @gyngyn has liked your post. As such, the debate is over: To the point it is.
     
  11. ndafife

    ndafife 2+ Year Member

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    One sentence mentioning that you would like to do research at the school does nothing to add to your application. They know you want to do research given the fact that you are doing research and got published. You would need to say much more than "I hope I can contribute to research at your school next year" for them to get anything meaningful about your interest in the school. And at that point you are basically writing a new essay which will probably be ignored because it wont be an update letter about your research.
     
  12. breakintheroof

    breakintheroof MS-Zero 2+ Year Member

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    I appreciate your perspective. As I indicated above, I am in fact going with the briefer version.
     
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  13. MrLogan13

    MrLogan13 2+ Year Member

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    To the point. They're reading enough stuff as it is, keep it simple. Being concise is a good skill to have.
     
  14. bear2roo

    bear2roo Dr. Kenzō Tenma 2+ Year Member

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    uh oh a lot of my update letters/letter of interests really draws out why I want to go to X SOM (~1 page), because well...I really do want to go to those schools I wrote to. Hope that is not counted against me...
     
  15. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    We know that everyone gets love letters, not just us...
    That's why we disregard them.
     
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  16. Bin Rushd

    Bin Rushd 2+ Year Member

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    So if letters of interest are disregarded and an applicant basically mentioned in his secondaries all activities he will be doing during his gap year or application cycle, and half the schools he applied to allows updates and letters of interest, what do you recommend he do? In this case, would no contact be smarter?
     
  17. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Although I'm sure that any rational admissions officer knows that these LOI's are not a sign of real interest, if they openly set themselves up for this type of communication, it is perfectly permissible for you do so.
     
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  18. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    One of the few instances I can see where updates are useful might be a new MCAT score ("Look! I just got a 35!") or most recent grades ("As you can see, I maintained my 3.6 GPA this past semester.").

    Unfortunately for people like my wily old Admissions dean, they not only get letters like these, but also the vapid "I really really want to go to YOUR school! It's my top choice." or

    I just started a new job or
    I just got my name on a poster or
    I have a new LOR from an MD or
    I've just completed another 100 hrs in the lab of Dr X

    These aren't the kind of things that will make the Dean jump up and say "We've GOT to invite this kid for an interview!"

    As the exceptionally wise gyngyn has pointed out: how useful is a non-binding contract from a desperate applicant?
     
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  19. Bin Rushd

    Bin Rushd 2+ Year Member

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    Well, I guess that means I can redirect my energy to the refresh button of my email inbox. :)
     
  20. bear2roo

    bear2roo Dr. Kenzō Tenma 2+ Year Member

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    I understand from an adcom point of view why s/he would disregard 99.9% of them. But what if it's like "hey my paper was published in ___ journal.....and I want to go to your school." Is that still going straight to trash?

    Honestly I don't expect much to happen for a pure letter of interest but i was hoping a semi-big update would be noticed
     
  21. jl lin

    jl lin 7+ Year Member

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    So, it might be a little like playing the lottery. In some respects, the application process might be viewed that way. As was previously indicated, if the school is open to LOIs, it can't hurt to write a very brief and confident (as opposed to seeming desperate) LOI.

    "Honestly I don't expect much to happen for a pure letter of interest but i was hoping a semi-big update would be noticed."

    I'm just saying, although it might not help, if done succinctly, it may not hurt either. Truth is, you just never know. If you somehow made an above average impact, maybe it might be noted. Obviously, however, I'd defer to the above experts; since they have direct experience in these matters.
     

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