Factors to consider when writing a letter of intent – Part 2

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What should the letter include?

Two gap medics students waiting on one of the wards in a Tanzanian hospital. There are four basic points that need to be covered in the letter of intent.

The first paragraph should be a short introduction, reminding them of who you are. Keep in mind, admissions authorities interview hundreds of candidates through the week and it is almost impossible for them to remember everybody. In the first paragraph your aim should be to re-introduce yourself. Do this by simply stating your name and the date of your interview. Avoid any long introductions that go on for lines and lines.

In the second paragraph, talk about why that particular medical school is your top choice and how it will benefit you. Again, keep it short and mention only the most compelling features that appeal to you most. No need to give a long list of benefits that you hope to get from the school.

In the third paragraph you should focus on why you should be accepted to the school and what makes you a good fit for the school. Highlight what you bring to the table and how you can contribute to the school.

When writing the first and second paragraphs, you should take special care to tailor the content for that particular school since the features, benefits and reasons will vary from one school to another. Writing a generic letter of intent will not help your cause.

Finally, you can add a paragraph mentioning any new qualifications or experience you’ve gained after sending in your application or after the interview. This will help add weight to your entire application. Remember to only mention accomplishments that will be relevant to that medical school, which could include First Aid courses, any short-term programs through the Red Cross, WHO and other such organisations, leadership programs, advanced communication courses or research programs.

 

Ending the letter well

At the end of the letter, give a quick summary of your general intention to get into the school and why they should give you admission. Wrap this up in a line or two and finish off by thanking them for taking the time to read your letter.

 

Thoughts on sending a letter of intent to several schools

It is absolutely okay to send a letter of intent to more than one school. However, there is a very important factor you should consider if you are planning on doing this. When composing this letter, you want to make sure that it does not sound too generic with some general comments about the good reputation of the school. The reader will immediately figure out that you are sending the letter out to multiple schools. To avoid this, it is best to compose a separate letter of intent for each school and customise it for that school. Be as specific as possible about why you want to join their particular school and how you can contribute to their school.   

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