College committee letter

I recently met with my pre-med advisor to discuss my disappointing MCAT score (28P). She informed me that it would not “get the job done” and advised me to retake it next summer, which I had already planned to do. However, after writing out my school and work schedule for the next 3 semesters, I realize there is no way I can set aside the time needed AGAIN to study for the MCAT. I will likely apply DO, but I would also like to apply to a limited number of MD, just in case (other than the MCAT, the rest of my application factors are very competetive for MD school). So my question is this: When a school committee sends a letter along with a student’s application, do they write separate ones for DO and MD apps? Does the committee have the power to say I can’t apply to MD (translation: can they say they will not write a letter for an MD application?) I realize I can apply without a committee letter but I also know that’s a quick way to be excluded from consideration for admission. Thanks!

Not sure on your specific questions as I did not use a committee letter. I can tell you that your number is not out of the running for MD or DO programs. Yes, it’s not the strongest, but you can still get into either MD or DO depending on the rest of your application.

I am completing my first (ever) bachelor’s degree at a university that has a pre-health advisor/committee. Here is an exerpt from my school’s pre-med website:

“Since the 1970s, most undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States have instituted a pre-health committee. Because the professional schools were at the fore-front of encouraging undergraduate institutions to form pre-health committees, most schools expect applicants from colleges that have a pre-health committee, to use it and to apply with the assistance of their university’s pre-health committee.”

It’s basically a pre-screening to aid med schools (to ensure that only the most qualified students apply so they are not inundated with applications, I’m guessing?). I get the sense I am more suited for DO school based on the approach I prefer to take in my own health. But I have not yet definitively decided and I would like to know that I have the option to apply MD should I choose to go that route. I know my score is mediocre at best, but when I look at the stats posted by AAMC for matriculating students, my MCAT score is not hideously off par, considering those numbers are averages, meaning that some people score higher and some score lower and are still accepted. My advisor acted like my score was a devastating blow to my chances, so now I’m left wondering if the pre-health committee would decline to send a letter to MD schools on my behalf. I will have to go speak with her again, I was just hoping perhaps someone else had encountered this situation in the past and could shed some light/advice.

Marianne, your score is definitely not that hideous. Below average for your more competitive schools, sure, but probably average for most state schools. I would add the caveat that not knowing what your breakdown is might make a slight difference. For example, if your VR score was a 12, but your PS and BS 8’s then that might be different than if your scores is relatively balanced. Even at that, though, I don’t know that it’s as bad as your adviser makes out. If the rest of your application is strong, I don’t think that MCAT score is a death knell.

Here’s the breakdown: PS-8, VR-10, BS-10

My GPA is currently 3.875 as a biochem major and I’ll be applying in the spring.

So do the non-trads doing postbacs or those just completing the pre-reqs (non-degree seeking) have to go through a committee like this? Not that it would change anything for me - just curious.

It depends - if you are taking most of your courses at a school that provides committee letters for their undergrads, it’s probably worthwhile seeing if they will do one for a non-trad post-bacc. However, if they are unwilling to provide one, it’s certainly not a big deal.

So, your breakdown is pretty balanced. PS is a little low, but VR and BS are certainly within reason. Before going in to panic mode, I would look up the stats of the various schools you are interested in and see how you compare.

My post-bacc program had a committee that wrote a letter. They did NOT view themselves as a prescreening group, i don’t think. You would have to be pretty heinous not to get a letter. They tried to represent your strengths to the admissions committees from their knowledge of you - how you did academically, how you interacted with your classmates, your volunteer background, your personality - etc. I don’t know how it is at other institutions.

If you are considering applying to DO schools, you MUST have shadowed a DO (well, most of the schools require that). Just a heads up.


Unfortunately, marianne, committees for pre-health profession students vary greatly from school to school. At some schools, you have to have taken so many credits before the committee will consider writing a recommendation letter for you. At other schools, the pre-health profession student committee will try to be as helpful as possible. These committees will only write positive recommendations. If the committee is unable to write a positive recommendation, the committee won’t write a recommendation at all. At other schools, the pre-health profession committee considers itself a gatekeeper and will write a letter regardless if it is good or bad. I’ve personally never heard of a committee writing a recommendation letter for allopathic medical schools and then write another one for osteopathic medical schools. Regardless, marianne, you need to find out what philosophy your school’s committee uses and what the eligibility requirements are to utilize the committee. From that, you can decide if utilizing the committee will be a worthwhile endeavor or will have to be sidestepped. As you have found out, having a committee letter is not mandatory in applying to medical school: Although for some medical schools, you have to give an explanation in why you didn’t utilize your school’s committee (e. g. committee takes too long to issue recommendation letter; never had a class with any of the committee members; don’t have enough classes at current school to be considered for committee letter; et cetera). Many here have sidestepped the committees and have gotten in. I’ve personally known of a couple of people who were issued critical committee letters but still got into medical school.