Updating Your Application & Sending Letters

Sending an Update

Since applications to medical and other health professional schools are submitted in early summer, you may wish to update your application at some point.  Sending an update is not a requirement and it should be done only with great care, thought, and planning.    Not all schools accept updates, so only send one if a school accepts them. You should not over-communicate with a school and you should not send an update if a school asks you not to send additional information.  If it’s unclear whether they will accept or welcome an update, contact the Admissions Office to ask.

Here are some things to consider:

  • You might provide an update when something "new" and "significant" has happened, e.g., you have won an award, published a paper, begun a new job with relevance to health care, or gained new clinical experience.  You may also provide an update if there was a particular weakness in your application and you have now addressed it.
  • You often send updates to many schools.
  • An update could be sent in late summer or throughout the year (but see the Tips below for timing), and may be sent prior to interviews if the information will expand or enhance your application.
  • Along with an update, you might have one additional letter of recommendation sent, if a school will accept it, if it addresses a competency or achievement not noted in other letters of recommendation, or especially if it is from a current student or alumni from that school.  When sending an additional letter of recommendation, ensure that you are not exceeding the maximum for an individual school.

Letter of Interest

A Letter of Interest expresses a strong interest in a specific school.  Your goal is to remind them of the strengths of your application and perhaps help you stand out from other applicants.  You can also provide new, significant information and so this Letter can serve the same function as (and replace) an Update.  The additional factor is that you explain why you are attracted to their school and how your background might fit with their program. 

Thank You Note

After an interview, send a note of thanks, express your gratitude at being interviewed, perhaps confirm your interest, and mention (briefly!) any thoughts you have on how you fit with their program.  This note often serves the same function as a Letter of Interest.  For more information regarding Thank You Notes, please see our Interview Tips.    

Letter of Intent

A Letter of Intent is generally sent after an interview or being put on a waitlist; it specifically informs one school that they are your first choice, you will accept their offer if they extend one, and that you will withdraw your applications from other schools if accepted.  You should send a Letter of Intent to only one school, and if accepted, should not change your mind.   In your letter, explain why they are your first choice, what you would bring to that school and clearly state that you will accept an offer.

Tips If You Write A School

  • Write your update or letter in a clear, professional tone, and it should be concise – no more than a page long.   
  • It should provide new content, add value to your application and provide details.  A vague letter or simply restating your interest will not be helpful.  
  • Watch your timing.  Frequent updates may not only be an inconvenience to the admissions committee but also affect your candidacy.  Your correspondence should be viewed as useful and appropriate, not overly eager and annoying.
  • Check the dates for when a school would like to receive information (check the medical school's website and the secondary portal).  Schools that accept on a rolling admission basis will be exceedingly busy in early October and November; for these schools you should write earlier, or wait to write after October 15 or November 15.
  • Check the manner in which a letter should be sent; some schools would like an email, others a letter, and information is often sent through the school's portal. 
  • Be sure to thank the Admissions Committee for considering your application.
  • Keep copies of everything you send.

If you are unsure of how to proceed after reviewing this information, please contact your prehealth advisor directly or email prehealth@duke.edu.