Writing can be a little bit terrifying at times—especially when your university admission is on the line. Having to clearly articulate who you are, what exactly it is that you want to do, and why you want to get into a certain university can be quite the daunting task. For one, you might not yet even know the answers to any of these questions at all yourself! (I still don’t know how to answer the second one, TBH.) But don’t worry, we totally get you! In fact, it’s completely normal to feel at a loss for words when faced with the task of writing a college application letter. After all, having to write about yourself is one thing, but writing to convince others that you deserve a spot in your desired course is a whole different playing field.
Moreover, I think we can all agree that the process of applying to universities itself already comes with a *lot* of pressure, and given that we aren’t always asked to compose a college application letter in our setting, we don’t blame you for not exactly knowing where or how to start. So if you’ve been staring at a blank document for your college application letter for weeks on end now or you’re simply dreading to have to compose one in the coming years, well then, you’ve come to the right place!
Here are four simple but effective steps you can take when writing a college application letter:
Do your research.
Before you begin writing, you first need to make sure to take note of all the application letter guidelines, such as the word count, font size, and the topic or question that the university would like you to answer in your piece, if any. While you may be tempted to include a lot of things in your application letter, these guidelines are set in order to allow students to organize their ideas in a concise and straightforward manner. The guidelines for every college application letter or essay may differ per university though, so make sure that you thoroughly check the guidelines for each and follow the instructions accordingly.
In addition, doing your research on the university and course you’re applying to (i.e. the values the college upholds or the kinds of students they’re ideally looking for) and incorporating these in your letter will definitely help you more effectively show why you can be a good candidate for the program!
Write an attention-grabbing intro.
How you start your college application letter is one, of if not, the most important parts of your letter. It’s important to note that college admission officers will only be able to read your letter within a short period of time, so a compelling introduction is a *must* in order to keep them engaged enough to read on. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Start with an interesting anecdote or an unusual line that will allow whoever is reading to get a glimpse of your personality and character. Make sure to keep it short and simple! You wouldn’t want to dedicate *too much* of your word count on your introduction.
Stay true to your voice.
With all the pressure attached to writing your college application letter, it’s easy to look to samples and templates for guidance and help. And while this is not exactly bad for you, speaking from experience, these samples may influence your own structure and content, which may make your letter seem generic and void of your own unique personality. At the end of the day, your application letter shouldn’t be reflecting anyone else but you. Write with your own determination, ambition, and sincerity in mind, and your inner voice will follow suit. Make sure to be clear and concise and to give ample examples to support a statement when needed, and you’re all good to go!
Make sure to re-read your work over and over again in order to correct any grammatical errors or to improve or re-word any parts that may sound unclear or are too lengthy. This is also where you double check that you’ve followed all the application letter guidelines given. Double check if you've attached all the necessary files and information and concluded the letter by thanking them for considering your application. If possible, also allow a trusted friend, authority figure, or mentor to proofread your letter and spot any mistakes you might have overlooked, or even to confirm if your writing effectively represents you and your character well!
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