A well-written cover letter or motivation letter is an integral part of successful application process. You would like to become a university student, but it is a great problem for you to compose a letter that will show your best features and persuade the committee that you should be accepted. Is this letter really important or can it be simply disregarded?
Note, this is the text of the utmost importance! You would like to join some study program and the committee has to decide who will be taken out of the hundreds of applicants. They do not know any of you personally, but they will read a personalized letter attached to your application. Thus, composing a cover letter for your application is one of the most responsible tasks you should manage at the stage of preparation.
What Is a Motivation Letter?
A letter that explains the reasons why you should be chosen among the applicants to a certain university or program is not easy to write. It is a real chance to demonstrate you are motivated to be accepted and your previous experience serves as a basis for your decision to join the program now. There will be a lot of applications prepared by other talented people in front of the committee and you want yours to be not rejected, but chosen among the others. You have to correspond to the high standards of your chosen university in your writing.
Trying to present your motives is much more than a formal writing task. The attitude of the committee members to their responsibilities is always very serious as they realize the role their choice plays in the lives of applicants. They will read your letter not only to evaluate the quality of your writing, but also to assess your goals, life ambitions, and personality traits. By submitting a letter of motivation, you save a chance for yourself to impact the recruiting committee by exciting and relevant insights about your personality.
The applicants not always find writing such a responsible paper easy and enjoyable. In most cases, it is a tricky process that makes the applicants look for the answers to numerous questions about the appearance of the letter, its structure, and approaches to presenting the information which can sound convincing. A lot of ambitious applicants get confused with different requirements to writing set by every university or program separately.
Is there any Difference between a Statement of Purpose, Cover Letter, Motivation Letter, and Personal Statement?
It is possible to use the term ‘cover letter’ as synonymous to ‘a letter of motivation’; but in most cases, cover letters are written in an attempt to get a job and they are addressed to the future employers. In its turn, a letter of motivation letter is written with the purpose of becoming a university student.
Although the term ‘statement of purpose’ sounds much fancier than a ‘motivation letter’, it actually means exactly the same. You should not get confused if you see that different universities refer to it in a different way. In some university applications, letters of motivation are sometimes referred to as personal statements, but there is a difference between them. They actually differ in their tone, length, and purpose. Typically, letters of motivation are less personal and they emphasize the plans for the future, while the personal statements refer to the previous experience.
What Should be Done Before You Start Writing?
First of all, the success of your application depends on the quality of your motivation letter. Therefore, you should have enough time to think about all the details and not miss any of them. Early start will enable you to be attentive to all the requirements and there will be no rush that can spoil everything.
You should start composing the actual text only after you have learnt everything about the university you dream about and their priorities. They offer the program with definite standards and demands, and you have to be well aware of them to be able to suit them. In most cases, there will be no lack of information as the universities try to share as many details as possible for the applicants not to get confused.
The content of your letter of motivation will depend on the requirements this specific university has to the applicants. They have posted all the details about their activities, projects, interests, and philosophy for you to learn about them and start cooperation positively.
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How to Write a Letter of Motivation: Basic Steps
First of all, the letter should be addressed to a specific person. If you are not sure about the name, use the form “Dear Sir / Madam”.
When you have a letter of motivation ahead, you should collect the ideas that can grab the attention of the committee from the opening section and let them understand the main things about you. It sounds reasonable to start with a brief presentation of your personal reasons to join the program. You can start with the main ones and then offer more in the body of the letter.
From the very beginning of the letter, try to sound as personal as you can. No clichés will win you the interest of the committee. A generic essay will sound as a copy of hundreds others and that will be your failure. You should sound as a personality, not a computer program. Try to spark the interest of the committee, keeping the sounding of the text professional and engaging.
You may find it smart to start writing the body and only then to proceed to the introduction. Your ideas should be clearly stated and the structure should be logical and up to the point.
Making Your Letter Brilliant
The letter will be compelling if all the points provided below are covered:
- Make a list of the key ideas you would like to be included into your motivation letter and then add the content to reveal what you mean.
- Give a preview and specify the goal you would like to reach.
- Provide the reasons why the program of this particular university is suitable for your character and abilities.
- Highlight your previous experience, including the international activities, the strongest abilities and qualifications, as well as personal qualities. Arrange the body paragraphs to reveal all the most relevant qualifications and refer to the CV, if needed.
- Do not make the letter too long. If it exceeds a page, you have probably written too much.
- There are two options for a proper structure: three paragraphs (introduction, body, and conclusion) or five paragraphs (with three separate paragraphs of the body).
- Mention what inspires you in life, but do not devote too much space to that.
- Make the letter focused and exclude all details you consider to be not so important.
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Finalizing a Good Letter of Motivation
- Give a summary of the key points and refer to the key goal you set in the letter you want to join a certain program. Restate the interest you have and tell how much you value a chance to tell about yourself and your motivation (you may request for a personal interview). Note that you want to be a valuable asset for the program.
- Sign the letter after you have written your name clearly.
- Sound original and personal.
- Let the readers understand what kind of personality you have. It is a personal story of yours in which you try to prove that you are more suitable for the program than any other of the applicants. You present your skills, talents, and qualifications, and you want the committee to consider your application favorably.
- You have probably searched online for samples of nice letters and you might have even liked some of them. It is fine to draw inspiration from other works, but remember that copying is forbidden! You have to submit an original letter! Moreover, the content you present should be true to life. Nobody expects the applicants to be superheroes, but a realistic picture of a string personality will be great. Do not sound too much obsessive about the program as it will look as if you want to be liked too much. Never use any false statements or facts as such attempts are most often apparent and the admission committee will be disappointed with your application.
- Ensure consistency and professionalism.
- Remember about the value of the first impression. It is formed on the basis of all the aspects: content, appearance of the letter, organization of ideas, structure of the paragraphs, font size, number of words, and so on.
- Check your letter for grammar mistakes, style adequacy, and adherence to the proper format. For instance, there should be the same font throughout the letter with the same abbreviations and no inconsistencies in details. It is easy to spoil the impression by wrong minor details.
- It will be complicated to read the letter if the sentences contain too many words. Complex structures and sophisticated vocabulary should also be excluded.
- Submit your letter after someone has provided their feedback on it to you. This can be your teacher, friend, relative, or acquaintance who knows how to apply successfully. Any advice is valuable for you.
- If you use at least some of the above mentioned points, it will be a great help for you in making your letter look professional. However, your knowledge, understanding of the task and personal approach will play the most important role in the likelihood of your success.
- If the interest of an applicant in the study program is sincere and he or she is eager to be helpful and to study well, the committee most often sees that and such motivation letters are successful. Make attempts and believe in yourself. You will make it even if the first attempt is a failure. Keep trying!