The University of Maryland Reed-Yorke Health Professions Advising Office (HPAO) offers a letter service to University of Maryland students and alumni who aspire to attend Medical, Dental, Optometry, or Podiatry school. There are two components to the service: the Committee Letter and Letter Forwarding.
What it is:
The Committee Letter is a form of evaluation used by the HPAO to assess individuals who are applying to Medical, Dental, Optometry, or Podiatry school. The Committee Letter must be requested the year in which you plan to apply to professional programs (the packet becomes available for the upcoming cycle in mid-December each year). The HPAO will not send out Committee Letters written in a previous cycle. The Application Cycle year refers to the year in which students would matriculate, or begin, Medical/Dental/Optometry/Podiatry School.
The Committee Letter reflects on the following:
- Academic information
- Family and basic biographical information
- Exposure to health care, patients and the clinical setting
- Community service
- Work experience
- Challenges and personal responsibility
- Personal passions, talents, skills
The Committee Letter is drafted as a result of interactions with the HPAO advisors, information collected in the Pre-Health Packet, and a mock interview (required). Students wishing to utilize the Committee Process are expected to work closely with the HPAO and have sought out individual advising from an HPAO advisor on at least one occasion. If you have never met individually with an HPAO advisor at any point, that will be noted in your Committee Letter. The Committee Letter incorporates all of the above elements and introduces the Turtle (explanations of special programs, rigor of courses and load, etc.) This letter will accompany your individual letters of recommendation to the professional schools. Receiving a Committee Letter neither means that you will gain admission to medical or dental school, nor conversely, that you will not get in if you do not utilize this service. Many schools, however, do expect students to have a Committee Letter if such a service is available on their campus. Expect the process to take a minimum of 12 weeks from the time you submit your completed packet.
Who is eligible:
- Currently enrolled degree-seeking undergraduate students;
- UMD alumni;
- Science in the Evening Program students with a minimum of 24 credits of completed UMD basic science course work
- Transfer students with a minimum of 24 credits of sciences at UMD;
- Students who complete the MCAT and DAT by August 3, 2017;
- Students who have completed by June 1 of the application year, with a grade of C or better (C- is not acceptable), the following required courses:
- 2 courses in biology with a lab;
- 2 courses in general chemistry (with labs);
- 2 courses in organic chemistry (with labs);
- 2 courses in physics (with lab-pre-dental students excluded as PHYS is not on the DAT);
- 1 course in biochemistry (pre-dental and pre-Optometry students excluded)
Non-degree seeking post-bacc students are not eligible. Degree-seeking post-bacc students (non-SIE) must have declared a major and be working toward completing specific degree requirements and not just pre-medical requirements to be eligible - 24 credits of completed sciences required. Students who have previously matriculated in another school (medical, dental, etc. whether US or foreign) are not eligible for the committee process and should work with their current school to receive a letter stating that they are in good standing and prepared for additional studies in the discipline.
How to request one:
You must submit the following, which constitute the Pre-Health Packet. Your packet must be complete; the Committee will neither accept nor review incomplete packets, and packets that remain incomplete at the final deadline will not be eligible for the committee process.
- Register for a veCollect account (if you do not already have one)
- To access the Pre-Health Packet, submit the appropriate non-refundable fee
- $70 for first-time applicants; $20 for re-applicants
- Submit your completed Pre-Health Packet by the deadline
- Submit copies of official transcripts from all colleges attended, including UMD, to the HPAO via mail or in person
Once you have submitted a complete Pre-Health packet, including transcripts, your file will be placed in a queue in order of date/time received. If you submit close to a deadline, be prepared to wait several weeks for feedback.
- Once an advisor has reviewed your application, they will provide you (via email) with feedback on your application and list of schools, and instruct you to schedule your mock interview
- The mock interview is required for all first-time applicants and forms the basis of your Committee Letter. So, once you receive the advisor email, be sure to schedule your mock interview in a timely way
- The interviews are arranged with candidates based on their availability, the availability of the Pre-Med Committee members, and the timeliness of the submission of the Pre-Health Packet. Students who meet the priority deadline will continue to have priority in the interview and letter completion process.
- Once the interview is completed, the interviewer will forward his/her notes to the HPAO within 2-3 weeks. Committee letters will be drafted, but none will be finalized until spring grades are in, test scores are received, all letters of recommendation are in, and the common application has been fully processed.
Be sure to stay attuned to your responsibilities (below). Moving you forward through our process is dependent upon your completion of these tasks. If we are waiting for you to complete one of them, it will delay the completion of your Committee Letter.
First Time Applicant Responsibilities: Priority vs. Final Deadlines
RE-APPLICANTS: To view your applicant responsibilities and deadlines, please refer to the Re-Applicant Page Here.
Next Steps - Things to Do in the Spring Semester of Your Application Cycle
- November-February: Send schools updated transcript and updates on research, significant changes or improvements to your application, letters of recommendation, etc. Be sure when you send this letter that you are keeping it concise and professional. This update is to keep schools informed, not to request or beg for a spot in their school. It is relevant to mention one or two reasons why you're interested in that school's program in particular and discuss how you bring something unique or diverse to their program. Your update letter should be meaningful and professional. More information regarding interviews and follow-up can be found here:
- March: If you have not heard from schools regarding interview invites, you should begin to think about your next steps:
- Come to walk-in hours or request an appointment to seek further advising
- Think about whether or not you should re-apply. Questions to consider at this time are:
- Does it make sense to re-apply in the next cycle?
- What are my weaknesses and have I worked on these enough in the most recent application cycle? How can I improve my applicant profile?
First-Time versus Re-Applicant
All students expecting a Committee Letter to be written or updated for the current application year need to submit a current Pre-Health Packet.
First time applicants are those who have never completed a mock interview with the HPAO committee. Whether you have submitted a packet in the past or not, if you did not complete the mock interview, you are still a first-time applicant.
Re-Applicants are those who submitted a Pre-Health Packet previously and completed the mock interview. Whether you ended up applying or not, you are considered a Re-Applicant.
What if I submitted a Pre-Health packet previously and withdrew?
For students who previously submitted a packet but withdrew prior to completing a mock interview, you will be required to submit a new First-Time Applicant Pre-Health packet. However, these students do not have to pay another application fee to access the packet. These students should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get a link to access the new cycle packet. Students who submitted a packet, completed the mock interview, but never applied to Medical/Dental/Optometry/Podiatry schools will need to submit the Re-Applicant Pre-Health packet and pay the $20 fee.
IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR STATUS: Contact the office before submitting your payment to access the packet to ensure you fill out the correct form and pay the appropriate fee.