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Learning to write a motivation letter


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Learning to write a motivation letter


It is the Statement of purpose that will become one of the most important documents when you enter a foreign university - that is why it is so important to give it maximum spirits, attention and work. The correct structure, the absence of errors, the right message and the presentation of yourself as a successful and promising student - all this for an unprepared student can be more than difficult. Especially for you, we have compiled a detailed guide, based on the advice and recommendations of Vince Gotter (professor, University of Northern Iowa).

What does a commission from an applicant expect?

The Admissions Committee wants to see a lively, dynamic, interesting and at the same time brief history of a promising young man. What is their future student? What does he want to achieve, what are his goals? What can he give to the university and what can the university teach him?

Usually the admission committee is supportive of the student:

  • Keen and interested (remember the "hooks")
  • Educated (style and correctness, literacy letters, consistency, logical narration)
  • Academically prepared (for example, you can appropriately use narrowly specialized terms, mention profile achievements and successes, internships or working practices)
  • Able to cope with difficult tasks and difficulties (remember that if in your history there were moments of overcoming - they can become your main trump cards)
  • Communicative, coming in contact with other students and teachers
  • With a strong potential - the commission ideally always seeks students who are able to glorify their university.

Of course, all this in 300 words is very difficult to accommodate - so focus on those moments that you can reveal best (and, of course, this order of qualities is not necessarily respected). Try to be yourself, but to express a little more vividly and briefly than in ordinary life: written speech is devoid of nonverbal signs, so your personal charisma, alas, will be powerless.

The main formats of the motivation letter

One can single out a non-structured letter and an essay-interview, which is answers to specific questions of the admissions committee. The first - non-structured essay - allows you to present your best qualities, achievements and perspectives, interests and goals in a free form, whereas in the second case (it is very common for selection of candidates for an MBA) you are limited to brief questions on the merits. Therefore, we consider it necessary to dwell in more detail on the format and structure of the first version of the essay - we can conditionally distinguish three variants of writing:

1) Yesterday-today-tomorrow

  • "Yesterday": I have the experience, talents and skills to study at your university in the chosen specialty
  • "Today": now I want to get the following knowledge for my personal and professional development
  • "Tomorrow": in the future, the program of your university will help achieve the following goals and career, personal heights.

2) I-you-we

  • "I": I have the following qualities, talents, abilities, interests, opportunities
  • "You": propose a program that fully meets my requirements, desires, abilities, goals and ambitions
  • "We": my potential on the program of your faculty and university will be revealed as follows, will bear the following fruits.

3) What-why-for what purpose?

  • What do I want to learn and learn?
  • Why do I want to study this, what goals do I pursue? Why did I choose this specialty, what is it so important for me?
  • What goals can I achieve by studying on this program, what do I expect from it?

How to correctly format a letter?

  • Be sure to consider the requirements of your chosen institution and program - especially if you are applying for a place in a master's program or an MBA! The university can request different letters for each direction, ask to send exclusively hand-written versions (regulating even the color of ink!), Etc. - be sure to check the official website of the university and thoroughly check all requirements
  • The most interesting and winning facts that represent you in the best light, try to arrange in the beginning, the first part of your letter - this will help immediately interest the admissions committee and ensure that your application is read to the end
  • Try to start a letter with the original quote, your own expression or fact from your life - it's an excellent "catchy" examiner and arouses a keen interest
  • Keep track of the consistency and consistency of your letter - you must gradually develop as a person in your text
  • Use the division into paragraphs, small paragraphs: everyone should have an outset, culmination and denouement and be a small logical story. Avoid florid expressions, archaisms and clericalisms, complex participial / adverbial spells - your written speech should be simple, accessible and understandable. Of course, this does not apply to the use of highly specialized terms: the appropriate and correct use of them will emphasize your level of knowledge and awareness, interest in the profession
  • Is it necessary to talk about the absence of grammatical, punctuation, syntactic and logical errors? Carefully verify your text - several times with sufficient time intervals, give it to your friend or teacher
  • At the end of the letter, in its conclusion do not forget to sum up the summary and summarize the information submitted, express I hope for a positive decision and further productive cooperation. Your letter should evoke a pleasant "aftertaste" and leave a good, positive impression of you as a potential student.

The basic requirements for the textual design of the letter you can read below - but remember that this is only an approximate standard, and the specific requirements may vary depending on the chosen institution!

  • Volume = 2500-6000 characters without spaces
  • Font = Times New Roman
  • Font size = 14
  • Font color = black
  • Line spacing = 1.5
  • Indentations = 2cm (both right and left).

Important details in writing a motivation letter

Do not drop your hands - almost 100% of applicants, the first time making up the Statement of purpose, do it wrong. We will analyze frequently encountered mistakes and, on the contrary, bright and good examples of the correct submission of the applicant.

1. Here is a vivid example from a real letter:

"I would like to enter the master's program of Fine Arts because I am confident that my writing skills will flourish in all its glory on your program, as I will regularly take challenges from teachers and sharpen my skills."

On the one hand, all the requirements are met and written correctly, but the phrase is absolutely uninteresting and only takes an extra place in the document. Specialists of the admission committee of the direction of fine arts read something like this all the time, and you for them merge into a single indistinct stream of letters. Given that the average size of the MP is 300 words, more than 15% of students usually spend on unnecessary, weak and faded words that will not say anything to the admissions committee. Be accurate and individual!

2. Do not forget to insert in the MP the so-called "hook" - that is, the fact that served as the key to choosing your profession and specialty. Here is an excellent example of the correct "hook":

"When I was 11, my grandmother Gretchen died and left me with something that changed my life - a library of 5000 volumes, one of my best days were spent reading and ordering her books." Since then, I wanted to become a librarian " ( candidate for the master's place in the program of library art).

Everything is very clear and clear: where did the passion for books come from, when it became the main part of life, why did it manifest the desire to take care of books, etc. The members of the commission, like educated intellectuals, will for sure think that they would be delighted with such a generous present in their 11 years - which means they will perfectly remember this letter and its author. And after all "hook" could sound and in another way, absolutely interested nobody:

"I have the honor to apply for a master's program in library art, because I loved reading my whole life, since I was 11, I knew that I wanted to become a librarian."

3. Remember and tell us what prompted you to choose the direction, specialty, profession and career. What can you do for yourself and for others, having mastered the chosen profession?

A big plus is the presence of your hobby (extra-curricular activity), directly or indirectly related to your specialty. For example, you enter the engineering department - and in your spare time you are fond of airplane modeling, go to the karting club, self-service your cards, and from childhood helped your father in the garage. Similar notes are necessary for the university to be convinced of the seriousness of your intentions, the correctness of the choice of the educational direction and career, the clarification of the strength of your motivation.

Well, if you managed to pass an internship or a working internship, you have practical experience in the specialty - you should not keep silent about it! Briefly describe the details of your employment and responsibilities, the results achieved, the skills acquired and the impression of your boss.

4. Originality will definitely be your plus - but here you also need to feel the boundaries subtly. Yes, if your letter is irreproachably written and unmistakably written, but consist of templating, faceless phrases - you, alas, will not be remembered by the selection committee and will not be in priority for enrollment.

However, often a bet on originality is either all or nothing. Known curious example of a university entrant at Stanford University, whose essay fit into 22 words:

"I want to study English at the master's level, for which I need a bachelor's degree." For this reason, I apply for admission. "

Of course, this student was remembered by everyone! First of all, he is a risky, businesslike and rather sharp young man. However, please note that to any member of the selection committee such insolence can seem insulting, and you will achieve the opposite result. Be careful and weigh your chances and risk right.

But the original can be done and "safe" statements. Compare:

"I worked on the plant of the television factory and once decided to go to college so as not to live life in vain and finally the abyss" => " One day on Tuesday, I sealed the 112th green wire on the 112th remote from the TV and realized that this monotonous work does not give me the opportunity to develop and realize my potential.I decided that the college will be my salvation. "

And there, and there - only 25 words. But which of the phrases will catch the admission committee? Comments, we think, are superfluous.

5. If in your academic history there were complex, controversial and ambiguous points - it is better to explain them: sooner or later they will all the same come out. For example, if in one of the trimesters you only received triplets, try honestly, impartially, confidentially (but without lying and unnecessary tearfulness) to explain the reason for such low achievement. Perhaps you had family problems or health problems, emotional decline, life or financial difficulties. If you are honest and objective - first of all, to yourself - you will be able to create the image of a strong-willed, strong and independent person who knows how to overcome difficulties and come out victorious from any difficult situation.

6. Be sure to confirm all your achievements: talents and abilities, sports cups, wins in olympiads and competitions of any level, scholarships or grants, participation in educational exchanges, etc. And it is not necessary that these achievements were Olympic level - any victory characterizes you as a single-minded and moderately ambitious person, ready to win. If there are many such examples, describe those that cause a special warmth in your heart: this will make the letter more humane, allocate it among hundreds of template variants.

7. If you have carefully studied your future university, faculty and specialty, then surely in the course of several professors who will teach you. Write, from whom and what you would like to learn, what attracts you to the peculiarities of the program for a particular teacher - this will additionally show your interest and awareness. And the specific names can not even be called - believe me, the commission representatives are familiar with the entire teaching staff! Try not to "cheat" either, pointing to the most famous professor with world fame - he is sure to be mentioned by other students, which will level your works and not at all mark your MP.

List of useful phrases and expressions

Of course, we do not insist that you strictly use all these phrases in your motivation letter! But, perhaps, you will use the correct, polite language and introductory phrases for the design of your text - use it with pleasure:

  • I'm applying for the program ... at the University of ... because I am very interested in ... (I apply for a program ... to a university ... because ...)
  • I'm a very active person in my free time ... (I'm a very active person and therefore in my free time ...)
  • I would say that my only weakness / weaknesses are ... But I am looking to improve in this / these area / s ( I can say that my only weakness is ... But I'm working on it)
  • I believe my knowledge and skills will serve to ... ( I believe that my knowledge and skills will help to ...)
  • I would be well suited to the position because ... (I consider myself a suitable candidate for this position, because ...)
  • My strengths are ... (My strengths ...)
  • Following the Master's Degree I aspire to work in ... (After obtaining a master's degree, I plan to work in ...)
  • Even under pressure I can maintain high standards (Even under pressure, I can meet high standards)
  • I want to study at the university ... because he has an excellent academic reputation in international rankings ...).

The most common mistakes in writing a motivation letter: TOP-10

  • Duplicating information from an academic resume

MP is your chance to inform the new, give the commission the maximum information about you as a talented and promising student. Do not miss it, do not copy your resume!

  • A dull and listless beginning

Do not introduce yourself for a whole paragraph - start "off the bat": for example, from the second sentence, describe the case, the "hook" that influenced your decision to study at this university.

  • One essay for all universities

At the root of the wrong approach, capable of ruining all your entry. Each university has its own merits, features and advantages, and not to note these unique facts in a motivational letter means to deprive the university of its pride and identity, which can not not hurt the admission committee.

  • Impersonality

Depersonalization of letters, pattern phrases, banality and universality of judgments will not help you - the commission will decide that you are no different from others, and therefore it is better to look for a brighter and more original candidate for a place.

  • Ridiculous and inappropriate jokes

But the originality, sense of humor are good in moderation. If you are not sure of the harmlessness, the accuracy of your joke - do not put it in the letter (your friends, familiar professors and teachers will be good for dropping out). Be sure to consider the mentality of the host country, the national characteristics of the character, temperament and tact.

  • Inability to stop, excessive amount of text

It is logical that you are trying to talk about yourself as much as possible - but try to devote each paragraph to a single single topic that will disclose in detail new information about you. Do not part, do not try to fit into the letter unthinkable.

  • Lack of verification and proofreading

If you passed the letter without checking it and it is full of mistakes, inaccuracies, misprints, syntactic and punctuation mistakes - the admission committee will most likely put it aside, no matter how talented the original may be.

  • Writing an essay a few days before the deadline

We have not convinced you yet that the letter should be written in advance, leaving enough time for its verification and editing.

  • Assigning others' own successes

Do not ascribe to yourself other people's achievements and deeds, which in fact you are not listed. As already mentioned - be yourself: after all, you are applying for a place in the university! If the deception reveals itself in the course of a personal interview - you will be at least awkward, and the admissions committee will have a very unpleasant impression.

Carefully check your letter, and more than once

Remember that after sending a letter you are already powerless to edit it and correct it! Therefore, it is worth to pay maximum attention to verification. In general, the checklist for checking the letter includes the following items-check that they are present in your MP:

  • Primary organization and structure of narrative and document
  • "Hook" (why are you so interested in the chosen specialty, which became the impetus to obtain a profession)
  • A logical connection between motivation, hobbies, achievements and the chosen direction
  • Achievements and successes in the selected area, completed courses (special, optional, optional), thematic profile extracurricular activities
  • Publications and professional achievements - reports, reports, presentations, speeches
  • If there were academic difficulties in the past - a description of their causes, solutions, conclusions
  • The reasons for choosing this particular university, faculty / school / institute, specialty
  • Features of the course that are most valuable and useful to you
  • Mention specific professors: their achievements, key work, interesting program moments (in which you are interested).

Carefully review its contents, check if you have withstood the style and logic, the sequence of presentation, correct all kinds of errors - grammar, stylistics, syntax, punctuation. Ask to check your letter to a fellow student, a group friend, and also arrange several independent checks with breaks in a few days (so that the eye does not "zamylilsya").

It's just fine if you manage to show a letter to a friend of a teacher or professor: they have much more experience and knowledge, so their advice on design and content can be especially valuable. In addition, professionals can be well acquainted with the characteristics of the MP for a particular university, faculty or case, which will also be very useful for you.

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