Letters of Continued Interest: What they are, and how to write them.

Letters of Continued Interest. (From Muffet on Flickr.)

So, you’ve been waitlisted. Or, you’ve been deferred. Now what?

Well, you can do one of two things: you can either sit on your laurels or you can write what’s called a letter of continued interest.

A letter of continuing interest (or, if you’re cool, a LOCI) is essentially what it sounds like: a letter to the admissions committee stating your continuing interest in their school.

While a LOCI doesn’t bear as much weight as other parts of your application like, say, your personal statement, it is still a very good idea to send one. If you’ve been waitlisted, deferred, or otherwise on hold, a LOCI could perhaps be the extra nudge you need to get in.

Here are a few tips to help get you out of limbo:

Write it as soon as possible.

“When should I submit one?” is usually the second question I’m asked. (Following what a LOCI is to begin with, of course.) My answer, as it is in many scenarios, is as soon as possible. Meaning, you should begin working on your LOCI as soon as you receive your notice of deferral or waitlist letter. Sending it out quickly shows your seriousness as an applicant by illustrating just how badly you really do want to go to this school. Also gives you a practical edge over the rest of the applicant pool– you’ll beat them to the punch.

Your LOCI should ONLY be one page.

Yes, this should only be a one-page letter. You have already written a personal statement– perhaps even a diversity statement as well. Your LOCI is a letter of continuing interest; there’s no need to rehash your application again. In terms of format, your LOCI should resemble a business or cover letter– it should include all relevant contact information as well as the appropriate greetings. (“Dear Mr./Ms. X,” works as an opening salutation, and “Sincerely,” to close.)

Explain why you’re still interested in attending.

Ideally, if you’re thinking of writing a LOCI, you still want to attend a particular school. So, be sure to explain how this school  is the perfect match for you– what specific programs are you interested in? Is there a particular professor you’re interested in studying with? In other words, why do want to get in, and what will you do there once you are admitted? Consider these questions, but be sure your answers are concise. Also, if you’ve visited them since applying, let them know– it will really drive home your veritable continuing interest in the school.

Provide updates to your application.

Surely, some time has passed since you first submitted your application. Has anything changed since then? Have you accepted any new positions or received any awards since you first applied? Have you completed any interesting research or published anything? Be sure to include updated information– don’t be redundant. By now, they have already reviewed your application, so repeating it all over again would be unnecessary and even unwanted. However, if there are some serious changes — like internship or thesis credits–  you can send them an updated transcript or even an additional letter of recommendation. It will not only confirm what you’re saying but also bolster your open application, giving them more reason to possibly admit you.

Address it to the right person.

Following what I said earlier, your LOCI should resemble a business letter. As such, it should be addressed to the appropriate person– in this case, the person who signed your deferral or waitlist letter. If no one signed your letter, send it to the Dean of Admissions. You can also do a little detective work on the school’s website or even call the admissions office and ask who it should be addressed to. Be sure to address the letter to an actual person, lest it end up lost in the shuffle somewhere and not seen by the right person.

Mail it. (And, no, I don’t mean by email.)

Following what I said above, you should physically mail your letter rather than email it. As you can imagine, an admissions office inbox is a crowded place where things can get lost, misplaced, and, worse yet, unread. As such, you want to send your LOCI in a manner that you know will be physically opened, read, and sorted by a real person. This sounds terribly archaic, yes, but there is something to be said about physically receiving, opening, and filing a physical letter over receiving an intangible email that can be easily skipped over or even accidentally deleted. By using snail-mail, you’ll be reducing the chances of clerical error as well as increasing the chance of it being read by the right person. (Hence, the importance of addressing it appropriately, as I said above.) Also, a physical letter is more professional and, dare I say it, even nice– almost like a thank-you note.

Follow the directions given.

As I’ve said so many times before, to be admitted anywhere for anything, you must follow the directions. Some schools specify to not send any additional materials at all, ever. Others ask for an extended response, requiring more than a single-page letter. Granted, there are only a few schools are such exceptions, but make sure your school in question is not one of them. If the admissions committee is still on the fence about admitting you, don’t make the decision for them by not following basic directions. So, if you can write one, by all means do so. But, if the school says specifically not to, then don’t– it’s pretty simple. Of course, if you’re not sure, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

 

 

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