For those of you who are starting your last year of high school, or know someone who is, it’s time to start writing your university motivation letter and applying to college! Applying for university or college can be a challenging task…and I remember it well. You’re trying to manage (handle, do) your normal school work, but at the same time you’re trying to find the right school to guide you into the future you want. And once you send out your applications, you check the mailbox (or Inbox) nervously (worried or anxious) every day for their response (answer).
But first you have to get your application ready.
Nowadays (now), colleges and universities are looking for something called a motivation letter. This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: you write them a letter telling them your motivation (reasons) for studying what you want to study, and why you want to study at their institution (school) in particular.
Here’s how to write a university motivation letter that’s sure to get you into your favorite school:
Make it Personal
This is rule #1 for a reason. It’s the most important one. Universities want to know you. Your whole application process (series of events) is about showing them who you are and why you should be there. You’re not telling someone else’s story. You’re telling yours.
When I was applying to the College of William & Mary as an English major (the subject you study), I wrote my motivation letter about the impact reading has had on my life. I started reading at a young age (and apparently taught my brother how to read by the age of three) and I’ve never stopped. I talked about the impact books have made on my life, and why it was important for me to major in English.
Make it about you. You’re selling yourself, after all. (Read here about how we can help you individually).
Make the School Sound Good
Why exactly do you want to go to this school? What makes that school so important to you to study there instead of somewhere else?
Your potential (possible) schools, like people, want to be flattered. They want to know what makes them special for you, why you think you can reach your full potential (success) there instead of at another school, how they will benefit from your attendance, and how you will maintain (and enhance!) their reputation when they are your alma mater in four years.
For example, in my motivation letter, I told them about how much I loved William & Mary’s mission, valued their reputation, and felt I would fit into their culture- and I meant it. It has a storied (long) history since it’s the second oldest school in the United States after Harvard and it’s one of the top schools in the country. Plus, since their English department is so good, I knew I could flourish (do well) there as a writer.
Sell yourself and sell the school. You’re sure to make an impression on the recruiter reading your university motivation letter.
Keep it Short
Now comes the hard part. You want to keep this letter short. About on page long, tops (so shorter than this blog).
My recommendation (suggestion) is to spend a paragraph on your story, a paragraph on the school, and a paragraph connecting the two (so, why you think you’ll be a good fit for the school and your selected major, and how this fits the profile (type of) of the student they are looking for).
Edit heavily (a lot). You want your letter to be short and to the point. The people who read your application do this all day and they want succinct (short), clear letters from applicants. Edit it yourself then choose two other people (or send it to us!) whose opinions you value (care about) to read over it. Any more than two people and your own writing style can be swallowed (taken over, changed) by theirs. You’re trying to make yourself stand out, so you want your letter to be completely and totally you.
Good luck, future applicants!
Are you applying to college or university, a new job, or something in between? What other application tips would you like to see here on our blog? Give us a shout in the comments and we’ll make sure to write future blogs about them!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and has fond memories of writing her university motivation letter for college!