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How To Write a Compelling Motivation Letter

Before admission, applicants need to prepare a package of documents. Without them, no university will consider the application. Among the key ones is a motivation letter.

The admissions committee needs it to evaluate a prospective student and make an important decision about whether the person should be admitted and granted a scholarship.

In this article, we are figuring out what a motivation letter is, what it includes, and how to write it to stand out among hundreds of other applicants.

What Is a Motivation Letter

A motivation letter is a story about yourself that you attach to the admission documents. It is most often required for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs.

You will need a unique letter for each program and scholarship. In this letter, you tell about yourself, your talents, skills, and competencies that reveal your educational and professional paths. The letter is usually 800-1200 words, including prepositions and articles.

Structure: What Does a Motivation Letter Include

An introduction is generally three to five sentences. This part should make you stand out among other applicants and catch the attention of the admissions committee so that they are compelled to read the motivation letter to the end.

The introduction may start with a question, a quote, or, for example, a story describing some turning point in your life. Try to use non-trivial expressions and make sure the quote makes sense and adds to what you are saying.

The next part is your educational, professional, and volunteer background. Highlight significant accomplishments that are relevant for the program you pursue. There is no need to mention that you started reading at four. Your experience of international volunteering would be much more appropriate here.

E.g. From showing only excellent academic results with a GPA of 4,86/5 to getting a thorough grasp of the subject matter, I was also on the lookout for new ideas and activities. Thus, my assertive and proactive personality drove me to participate in…

This part should be followed by the answer to the question "Why did you decide to study abroad, choose this country, this university, and this particular program?". Avoid general phrases. Look through the information about the university, the faculty, and the major you are interested in. Knowing the list of courses, names of professors, and different student clubs the university offers will be a big plus for you.

The next thing you need to mention is your plans for the future. Here, tell how studying abroad will contribute to your educational and  professional growth. It is also important to talk about specific things, like positions you aspire to, companies where you would like to have an internship or get a job, etc.

Don't be shy to set ambitious goals, and show that studying abroad is only the first step in your development.

E.g. My plans after graduation are well-thought and determined…

Feel free to switch on “the poverty mode” if you are writing the letter to apply for a scholarship. Explain what stands in the way of your dream and how the scholarship will help you reach it.

E.g. That’s why receiving a scholarship is the only chance for me to pursue my purpose and open the world of opportunities.

A conclusion should be a logical result of your narrative. In this part, you summarize what you've said and explain why studying at this university is important to you.

How To Make Your Motivation Letter Stronger

To write a compelling motivation letter that will help you get admitted with a scholarship, you need to answer three questions:

  1. Why should they choose you?
  2. Why did you choose this country, university, and major?
  3. How will your studies help you achieve your goals?

Your chances to be admitted depend 70% on the motivation letter.

Check out the university's requirements for a motivation letter. No matter how beautifully written your letter is, it won't be even considered if it doesn't meet the requirements.

Don't stick to the fake-it-till-you-make-it strategy. It's okay to declare ambitious goals and explain how education abroad will help you join the UN or become a Wall Street financial expert. However, don't exaggerate the accomplishments you already have. You should only mention the events and experiences where you can prove your participation.

Avoid general phrases when explaining your choice of university and program. Please, no “best university”, “top-notch program”, etc. Your letter of motivation should reveal your real and deep interest. Do a little research before you write it. Find out what rankings the university has, what clubs and organizations you can join as a student, etc.

If you're talking about a program at the university, check out the core disciplines or the names of faculty members you'd be interested in working with. Knowing this kind of stuff will show your interest in the program and the university.

Indicate your goals after you graduate. Even if you don’t strive to work at Google, you need to show how studying abroad will help you achieve certain goals, such as getting an internship, starting your own business, or going back to your country to make a difference in the world. General phrases are taboo here too. Build your perfect path and tell the admissions committee about it.

Mention your failures too rather than just your accomplishments. Universities appreciate that. It's okay to make mistakes and it's okay not to be first. Explain how failures and mistakes have made you stronger and what you’ve learned from them. Such stories are a great way to show how you can adjust to challenges.

Besides, it's important to consider lexical and semantic aspects.

Make sure that you use the writing style specified in the university's requirements. Some universities prescribe a formal style, while others suggest a free form of writing.

Try to use high-register words. Instead of good results, go for excellent/astounding. When describing yourself as an active student, use assertive/proactive.

Help Is Here!

We do understand that writing a convincing motivational letter is not always easy, so we are happy to help our clients. StudyFree will prepare a strong motivation letter for you that is customized based on your accomplishments. If you already have one but want to make sure that grammar and spelling are okay, our manager will proofread it and give you advice on how to highlight your personality and strengths.

Share your story with all the ups and downs, be honest, and remember that you totally deserve to be admitted to your dream university!