Monday, April 2, 2012

Utilizing your pre-health professions office (committee letter)

My undergraduate institution has a fantastic Health Professions Advising Office. The office holds multiple information sessions for first-semester juniors to get started on their timeline:

Junior year around Spring Break
- Turn in applicant information (SAT's, ACT's, MCAT/DAT scores, extracurricular activities...)
- Send in a draft of personal statement (our office gives feedback)
- Send in Letters of Evaluation requests to professors
- Meet with your health advisor to discuss your file

The office's timeline put me right on track with my personal dental application timeline. I received reminders and confirmations when I had completed each required step. The office also sent us information about pre-health workshops, panel discussions and summer research opportunities.

Besides keeping me on track, our Health Professions Advising Office also writes the committee letters. In our case, the professors writing the letters were instructed to send in their letters into the Health Advising Office which put together one complete composite letter to be sent to AADSAS.

AADSAS currently accepts one committee and one additional letter or four individual Letters of Evaluation. Check with your schools and see if they require one from your dentist that you shadowed: this will probably be your "plus one" if you have a committee letter.

Some people choose to do everything on their own, mainly because the Health Professions Advising Office takes some time. They are dealing with other anxious applicants. I've also heard that some schools will refuse to write a committee letter if your file is weak.

For me, it helped tremendously to have someone guide me through the process. Some things I knew, others not so much: who to ask for recommendation letters or what to write in my personal statement. Having a familiar face of encouragement was also nice. My health advisor Dr. McD kept me calm by keeping everything in perspective. She also banned me from Student Doctor during a particularly tough week. When at the end of it all I finally made my decision, she was there to celebrate with me.

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