As a medical school consultant, I am often asked by clients about letters of intent. For information about the purpose of the letter of intent, please read my other blog post about the medical school letter of intent. In the fall of the medical school application cycle, I am frequently asked about the timing of the letter of intent. Applicants are eager to indicate their interest to schools and they often think that a letter of intent can convey that.
Generally speaking, a letter of intent is normally written after an applicant has had the chance to interview at a number of schools, thereby giving the letter writer concrete experience that informs his or her interest. This knowledge of the school—and of other schools—equips the writer with more substance for the letter, which gives it more weight. A letter of intent written at a later stage in the application cycle than mid-fall thus has more insight to offer, based on the applicant having had the chance to compare one school to another and acquire real knowledge of the particular school in question.
The letter of intent should be submitted prior to a decision being rendered but after an applicant has interviewed; this timing will thus vary from applicant to applicant, depending on when interviews occur. A letter of intent can also be written even later in the cycle, when an applicant is on a waitlist.
Letters of intent are not required and not everyone writes them. They are written by applicants who have a very strong interest in one school—and this interest needs to be articulated with specificity and evidence as to why that school is the perfect fit.
If you have particular questions about a letter of intent pertaining to your situation or want help with your letter, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting