A motivation letter is a free-form essay of about 500 words. You need to explain why you should apply for a grant, a graduate program, or an internship in an international company after university. Learn how to write a successful motivation letter and get closer to success.
#1. What should be in a motivation letter
The motivation letter is the first stage of selection by the admissions committee. If successful, you will be invited to an interview. It’s your chance to stand out from other applicants around the world. Write a letter explaining why you chose this program and how it relates to your accomplishments and career plans, what skills you want to acquire and how you will use them in the future.
Tell us about victories in competitions, contests, research, and exciting projects you have participated in. Prove you are the best candidate. It is believed that the higher the ranking position of the university to which you are applying, the more thoughtful your letter of motivation should be.
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#2. Get to know the admissions office requirements
Check the university’s website for the requirements for a motivation letter and follow them 100%. For example, is it specified that the essay should be 300-500 words long? Meet this deadline. Answer all mandatory questions and send the letter in the correct format.
#3. Don’t copy other people’s letters
You don’t need to copy someone else’s examples mindlessly, substituting your name, contact information, and 2-3 personal facts. The essence of the motivation letter is sincerity. You must tell how badly you want to get into this university so that the committee feels sorry for you and happily accepts you into the arms of your alma mater.
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#4. Don’t write the letter at the last minute
Start writing your motivation letter for your studies at least a month in advance: that way you won’t miss the main points. Give yourself time to think about your goals, so they look convincing to the committee.
#5. Think about your image
Your success depends on your self-presentation. First, work out the details of your image. Your letter should tell the committee what kind of person you are, why you are interested in this profession, and how it relates to your plans for the future. Before you write your letter, make a mind map – a complete list of words and concepts that describe you as much as possible. A few basic concepts will be the main anchor points describing your personality in the letter. Of course, they should be related to your chosen profession.
#6. Don’t write a boring introduction
The introduction should first and foremost interest the committee. If the beginning is trite and monotonous, no one will read it, despite all your merits. So try not to bore your readers with your introduction.
#7. But don’t get carried away with creativity either
Creativity is good but in moderation. For example, you should not write a letter in the form of a fairy tale or a poem, do not abuse the visual details in the design.
#8. Don’t write about superfluous facts
If you want to teach as a volunteer in South Africa, write about your teaching credits, your knowledge of foreign languages, but don’t write that you were the Zara clothing store’s consultant of the month.
Sometimes there are dozens of applicants for a volunteer project, but the committee will pick the ones that do the most good. Prove that you don’t just want to have fun on your summer vacation but that you will make a meaningful contribution to the project.
#9. Argue your point
It’s not enough to say, “I want to take a neurolinguistics course.” You have to explain why you need it, what you will use your knowledge for.
#10. Do not use clichés and clericalisms
You don’t need excessive officiousness! The letter should be read easily and clearly, don’t cause rejection with its dry, banal constructions.
#11. Less pathos
Forget about book speech and put away dictionaries. There is no need to insert a maximum of clever words into the letter because many of them are not even used in colloquial speech.
If you are writing a motivational letter for study or work, use simple words in everyday speech.
#12. Be careful with jokes
There can be light humor in a motivation letter, but only if you are sure that your joke will prove amusing to the committee. Otherwise, one bad joke can lead to a severe setback and rob you of your chance to attend a top university.
#13. Simplify complex sentences
Try to break up one hard-to-read sentence with participles and deuteronomy into 2-3 short ones. Simplify your speech.
#14. Never use Caps Lock
Text typed in capital letters is associated with an elevated tone, irritation, and rudeness. The key Caps Lock, even at one time, was called insulting. So do not write words and expressions in large letters to attract attention. It is acceptable only in the headlines. Smiley’s face in the motivation letter will also be inappropriate. After all, it is a document for the university.
#15. Don’t get carried away with quoting
You can quote Steve Jobs as your inspiration. But remember, no more than one quote per motivational letter. The commission is interested in you and your thoughts.
#16. Avoid repetition
Don’t write about the same achievement several times, even if you think it’s the most important. It’s enough to talk about your fabulous academic work once.
#17. Brevity is the soul of wit
A motivation letter should be no more than 3-4 paragraphs, 500 words maximum. Some universities increase the volume to 1200 words, but usually, such requirements for graduate school (doctoral studies), where you need to tell a lot about your academic work.
#18. Show your knowledge of the university
The chances are that you chose the university for a reason: familiarize yourself with the program, the conditions for study, and learn all you can about the professors who will work with you. Tell the committee what attracted you and tell them the name of the professor you want to study with. The admissions committee likes that kind of interest.
#19. Write an unconventional conclusion
If you could grab the commission’s attention with your introduction, don’t disappoint with your conclusion. Try, in addition to the standard “best wishes,” to add a call to action to get your attention again. For example, “I hope I can tell you even more interesting things about my activities when I meet or on the phone,” or “I dream of welcoming the new academic year at your university.”
#20. Check your essay carefully before submitting
Use proven writing resources to help improve readability and get rid of grammatical and stylistic errors.
#21. Let 2-3 friends read your finished letter
You can’t write a good motivational letter without other people’s opinions. So don’t be afraid of criticism. Ask your friends to honestly tell you how well you did, what points should be changed or argued. In this case, an outsider’s perspective is essential. Or turn to an essay service to proofread your motivational letter.
Now you’re ready to write a motivational letter that will help you get into university, get a scholarship, or volunteer to conquer the jungles of Bolivia!