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Cover Letters for Residency Programs – Do I Mention My "F" Grade?

Last year, this question came from a student who struggled in their first year then bounced back so strongly that they became a competitive residency candidate.

This is what we talked about:

· The residency program will see your transcript in your application.

· You stumbled your first year and have made Dean’s List most times since then.

· You are a great writer with the ability to explain what happened.

· You have an opportunity to mention it upfront in your letter, and most importantly, then explain how you’ve grown since.

· You are working with a mentor who can help you edit this section of the letter.

· It’s your choice.

Ultimately, this student decided to weave this story into their letter of intent. They didn’t dance around the problem. They didn’t blame anyone or anything. They owned the story and focused on the self-awareness that grew out of that situation. And because you all are wondering: they matched! In a really competitive area of the country, too.

Maybe this student was lucky. Maybe this student took a gamble you are not willing to take. This is not written to convince you otherwise. If you have a mentor you can talk to about this, and/or if you feel you can share your story in a way that is comfortable for you, then you can consider it.

Is it the right decision for everyone? Maybe not. Find someone you can talk to about this!

Regardless of your grades, ask your mentors to help edit your cover letters. We are here to help.

Looking for more help on writing Cover Letters? Check out these THREE key videos to help you prepare for job/residency/fellowship submission and interview prep: Take the course!

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