Committee letter

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The Pre-Health Committee and letters of recommendation

The Pre-Health Committee consists of faculty members and other relevant instructors who evaluate Elmira College students and alumni applying for graduate programs in the health professions. If requested by a centralized application service or specific schools in that profession, the Committee produces an aggregate evaluation that is transmitted as a composite reference letter addressed to the admissions officers.

Dr. Gillie, in her role as Pre-Health Advisor, must be included on the committee, although other committee members are chosen by the student.  Between three and five people are usually chosen and may include faculty outside the sciences, and/or potentially one other person who has directly supervised any relevant health-care experience. Your committee members should be able to speak to your academic strengths as well as comment about who you are as a person.  Typically, you should arrange for your committee to meet Winter term of your junior year.  Set up the committee members and provide all materials to the Pre-Health Professions Advisor by March 31 for an on-time application.  If you plan to take a gap year or two, plan for the committee to meet spring of your senior year instead.

Do you need a Pre-Health Committee letter?

Although there may be specific variability depending on the school one applies for, the following professions generally require or prefer an institutional "composite" letter of reference rather than individual letters.

    * Dentistry
    * Medicine (both allopathic and osteopathic)
    * Optometry
    * Podiatry

Admissions committees recognize that exemplary, well-qualified Elmira College applicants will have a corresponding composite letter of evaluation from the Pre-Health Committee. Applying to programs in these health professions programs without a Pre-Health Committee composite letter of evaluation might be considered a "red flag" and jeopardize your chances in gaining admission.

What should I provide to the Pre-Health Advisor before the committee meeting?

  • Personal statement
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Scores and subscores from all exams attempted (or date registered, if not taken yet)
  • Updated resume:
    Volunteer (service to others) and/or clinical experience highlighted
    For extracurricular and research activities:
    What have you done?  What did you learn from what you have done?
    What positions of responsibility have you had? (employment or activities)
  • Self-evaluation:
    Many medical schools want to know about how you have grown as a person.  A self-evaluation can help you assess your readiness and help the committee with the direction of the letter.

Minimum Expectations to Meet Before Applying

Based on data on the applicant pools for all of the health professions, the Pre-Health Professions Advisor strongly recommends that students meet the following minimum qualifying standards when they apply for a graduate program:

  •  A minimum 3.3 GPA overall by the completion of the fall semester, junior year.
  •  A minimum 3.3 GPA in the science prerequisite classes, with no grades lower than C. (National data on average GPA for matriculants.)
  • A score at the 50th percentile or greater for the appropriate admissions exam. Ideally, students should have these scores as minimum targets as appropriate, but in most cases, students in the 75th or higher percentile tend to be offered admission:
          DAT average section score of 16.
          GRE verbal 150, quantitative 150.
          MCAT 507 with section scores of 125 or greater.
          OAT score of 300.
          PCAT score of 400.
Consider these minimum standards before you decide to prepare for the application process, noting that these standards are well below the average or median scores for the applicant pool for some specific professional programs. There is a small window of flexibility in these standards due to circumstances (not all the science prerequisites had been completed when the application was started, for example), but in general these are the minimum standards that Elmira College students should aspire to achieve.

Students with records that do not meet or exceed these expectations will be wasting a lot of time and money in the 18-month-long application process unless they have formed a different set of professional goals.  Please meet with the pre-health advisor asap for planning purposes.

Some applicants may not meet all of the standards for various reasons, but applicants must also be made aware that their chances for acceptance increase dramatically if they exceed these standards. That said, acceptance is never guaranteed even if one exceeds these standards.

Students who meet these grade and test score standards should be aware they will also be evaluated on their concurrent experiential preparation for a health professional education. The quality of their volunteering/ clinical experience and/or their research is a significant factor in the process, as is in-depth knowledge and understanding of the profession of the applicant's choice.

The Pre-Health Professions Committee wants to be sure that each applicant is positioning himself/herself in the best possible position during the process and using his/her time and resources to address any deficiencies. It is better to save one's efforts for one excellent attempt than to make multiple poor impressions upon the medical admissions committees.  There is no harm in waiting if you will be more mature, experienced, and a stronger candidate in a highly competitive environment.