Committee Letter or No committee Letter

Hi all,

I am experiencing a sense of dread. Despite studying my buns off and learning an insane amount and loving the material, I am sitting on a lack-lustre 3.0 science gpa. The curve in our classes, I feel, is why I am doing so ho-hum. My pre postbacc GPA was 3.8, which included a number of science classes. I am now facing the fact that getting into med school may be a real challenge.

Regardless (I really am not posting to brood, after all, just to get advice) I am wondering if the committee letter is really worth it. I have heard that they rank you and that, if you are not an excellent student, you may end up being hurt by your committee letter. Anyone know more about this?


I think you need to look at the schools you are interested in and what their “rules” are about LOR. If I remember correctly from this year’s application cycle, many schools require a committee letter if your school offers one. If you go to a school that offers a committee letter and you don’t use it, you have some explaining to do in terms of why you did not use it.

Perhaps you could talk to your advisor and find out exactly what sort of things would be included in your school’s committee letter.

But do some research as I could be mistaken. My school did not have a committee letter so I didn’t focus on that.


PS. From the Penn State Web site:

Letters of recommendation are required from each institution that has granted you a degree and any institution you are attending or plan to receive a degree. A composite recommendation from a pre-professional committee is strongly recommended. If there is no such committee, letters should be solicited from individual faculty members as outlined in the Secondary Application instructions. If there is a pre-professional committee and a recommendation will not be forthcoming, you should explain why in a separate letter to the Admissions Committee.

Thanks, that helps give me some context.

One point someone I encountered online made to me was that, since he was near the bottom rank in his class at Columbia, his committee letter indicated that he was among the lower percentile groups in his class, so he fared better applying the following year without a committee letter and a few references from professors instead

I know it plays big for some schools, but mine for example, won’t even give you a committee letter unless you’ve had a pretty high number of hours at the school. More than most would do for a post-bacc. Really mean’t for degree seekers I guess. I have mixed feelings about it anyway. They are basically talking to your professors, and if you don’t really have a relationship with them, they aren’t going to have much to say anyway. If you do, you’d be getting a letter of rec from them.

Even though it could be a good idea, I know I’m going without. I’m just hoping I can make some connections this semester, so I can get at least one more letter from someone.

Not sure how flexible the committee is at Columbia, but in my post bacc I can create my own committee for a letter. I could have my intro bio and chem professors (or whoever likes me) each write a paragraph containing anything positive they can bring themselves to say about me. Then, the head of the post bacc program will sign off on the letter.

The committee wants you to get into med school so their program looks successful; if you tell them not to include your class rank, then they shouldn’t include it. However, like Lynda said, if a med school asks for it specifically, it’s a little harder to dodge.

I’m pretty sure you can find a way to apply to places that don’t demand your specific rank, and create your own committee that will write a decent letter for you. Best of luck!