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How to write a Motivation Letter for University (Sample)

How to write a Motivation Letter for University (Sample)

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Applying to a university is usually a straightforward process. Yet, aspiring students must be extra careful in every step and do the required paperwork correctly and meticulously, especially when they are expected to provide additional material, which they must write themselves.

For example, most educational institutions expect candidates to submit more than just basic information about their achievements, degrees, grades and GPA. Not to make it harder for them, but out of a necessity that seems inevitable. Evaluating numerous applicants with similar qualifications is a laborious process. So, universities ask potential students to differentiate themselves in some way. That's usually done by providing their honest, personal take on why they should be admitted and demonstrating their drive to excel in their studies.

That's called a motivation letter, and if written well, it could be the decisive factor in an applicant's admission.

What is a motivation letter?

A motivation letter is a brief (usually one-page long) letter to the selection committee. In it, candidates have to present their reasons for choosing that specific institution and demonstrate how they may thrive within its system.

In a few words, universities want aspiring members of their student body to be more than confident of their choice and fully motivated to make the most out of this opportunity. Of course, putting it into words is not enough. Applicants have to support their statements with valid arguments, exhibit a deep understanding of their preferred institution, and show they have a plan for their future.

Submitting a good CV is the first step to drawing attention to your application. But matching your list of qualifications to your personality, dreams, and aspirations makes you stand out in the eyes of your evaluators.

How can a motivation letter make a difference in a university application?

As mentioned above, university officials often have to go through several CVs that may not have distinct differences (especially when applicants are fresh out of high school). So, there aren't enough grounds for picking one over the others. That is when a motivation letter can separate you from the lot by persuading the committee of your conviction, work ethic, and desire to succeed.

In a way, writing a motivation letter is like standing in front of your evaluators and telling them confidently that you would be a perfect fit for their institution because:

  • It offers everything you ask for in a university program,
  • You incorporate everything they ask for in a student,
  • and your academic and professional vision is similar to their educational vision.

Now, imagine every candidate did just that. Then, for your presentation to make a difference, you’d have to:

  • Be sincere and show your true self,
  • Sound excited but also controlled and serious about your goals,
  • Know everything about the institution and your preferred program,
  • and talk openly about your expectations and ambitions.

Let’s see how you can do that in written form with a motivation letter.

How to write a letter of motivation

Writing a near-perfect motivation letter is critical to a university candidate's success, so it cannot be taken lightly. It's not just a matter of finding a nice motivation letter template, filling in your information, and calling it a day, neither a secondary task to postpone until the last minute.

In many cases, your motivation letter is your application’s most important asset. That's why you must start writing it the moment you decide which program to apply to. And you must make it as distinct as possible without diverging from the general guidelines and best practices.

If you're considering applying to a university in Germany, make sure to check out our specialized motivation letter guide tailored specifically for German universities!

5 Tips for writing a great motivation letter

Before we continue our guide on how to write a good motivation letter, here's some valuable advice to keep in mind beforehand.

1. Read a few motivation letter examples
Nobody knows how to write a motivation letter inherently, and neither should you. The best way to learn is by checking out what other candidates have written in the past, or some of the examples found on educational or university websites. That way, you will get a feel of the common elements and the variations which are generally acceptable.

2. Learn everything about your future school
If you're going to demonstrate why you picked that particular school and program and how you will fit in it and blossom, then you must really know what you're talking about. Thus, you must sink your teeth into the school's academic and campus life and picture yourself learning the ropes, making yourself at home, and giving it your best every single day. Then paint that picture in words, so your evaluators can also see it when they read your motivation letter.

3. Outline your motivation letter content
Outlines are great for organizing your thoughts and content before writing your first motivation letter draft. For example, you can start by outlining the main sections (i.e., intro, body, conclusion), then note down what you need to answer with each one and add any content that might make it into the final draft. The goal here is to avoid too many rewrites and focus on what matters most from the very first line of text.

4. Stay on point and skip the humor
When asked to write a personal account of anything, it may be tempting to write more candidly than necessary. Although it's crucial to instill your personality in your motivation letter, you still must adhere to some basic rules regarding your writing style and tone. To put it roughly, it helps your readers focus on your goals if you don't ramble aimlessly or diverge attention with bits of untimely humor. So, don't be afraid to be yourself but bring forth your most focused version.

5. Edit, re-edit, and proofread your motivation letter
As we said earlier, you cannot treat your motivation letter like a thankless chore. You must give it your best and even study a bit to find out how to reach the best possible outcome. And after you write it, don't be afraid to edit or rewrite it as many times as needed. In the end, you must be confident that you did your best, no matter the results. Also, don't forget to proofread your motivation letter thoroughly because sending it with a typo is plain self-sabotage.

Are you considering pursuing your studies in the UK? Discover the top universities in the country.

What’s the usual motivation letter structure

First and foremost, a motivation letter is meant to be read. Therefore, it must be brief, simple, polite, and to-the-point. If you want your point to be heard loud and clear, then your motivation letter must be reader-friendly and concise.

Starting from the structure, you must keep it straightforward and easy to navigate from section to section. For example, your motivation letter could consist of just:

  • A couple of lines saying what it's about,
  • A paragraph on your academic background and its connection to your choice of field and institution,
  • a paragraph on why you're a good fit for said institution,
  • a paragraph on how you feel it can boost your future prospects,
  • and a line thanking the evaluator.

As for the content, it depends on what the letter of motivation is for. More specifically, a letter for a bachelor's degree is different from a motivation letter for a master's or a PhD. That's because there are other criteria for admission to a post-graduate program and a broader academic background for the candidate to present for evaluation.

Motivation letter - Sample

To give you a point of reference, here's a motivation letter example for applying to a bachelor's program:

*Dear Sir or Madam,

With this letter, I would like to express my interest in studying for a bachelor's in X at the University of X.

I chose this program because it matches my academic strengths in my final years at X High School. During that time, I showed particular interest and excelled in X, Y, and Z, getting my highest marks and many praises from my teachers. A few months before graduating, I researched all possible academic paths based on my strongest subjects and eventually decided to study X. My subsequent research into the available X programs led me to apply to the institution you represent.

My decision was finalized after learning more about the University of X and its educational approach, campus life, internship programs, and post-graduate options. I gave it a lot of thought, and I believe it's the best environment for me to study what I'm passionate about and enjoy a rewarding academic and social life on the way. I especially look forward to participating in the various educational and recreational activities and becoming part of the U of X culture and community.

Also, I'm confident that the University of X has an excellent system for supporting my future plans. Whether I decide to continue my studies or start my career, I found there are many research-oriented courses and diverse internship opportunities to help me prepare for succeeding in my next endeavor. To me, this degree is the beginning of a long journey, and I'm eager to make it the basis for building a fruitful life and career.

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to your positive response.

Yours faithfully,

The above motivation letter includes some essential points for drawing positive attention to your candidacy. Feel free to add your own or make the tone and style a bit more personal. Just remember to always keep the final draft lean and readable.

Before you start your motivation letter…

When applying to a university, you cannot rely on your CV alone, no matter how bulked up it is. Since you don't know who you're competing against, you simply have to give your best at everything that is required of you.

The motivation letter is an excellent medium for speaking directly to the university committee and making a solid case for getting their thumbs up. That's why you have to put in the extra work and be sure to:

  • Write simply, concisely, and from your heart.
  • Exhibit all your strengths and skills related to your desired studies.
  • Show good knowledge of the university and program you're applying to.
  • Link your future plans to your success as a student there.

What do you say? Do you feel ready to write a great letter of motivation and get into the university of your dreams with flying colors?

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