Stages of work on writing a motivation letter for admission to the university

A motivation letter to the university is a kind of business card for the applicant. After all, the student does not have the opportunity to submit documents to the admission committee in person, and not all educational institutions conduct interviews. Even if they do, it often takes place over the phone. Therefore, the student faces a very tough and responsible task to convince, without personal presence, the admission committee to accept him to the program.

How to do it, what should be written, and what the admission committee wants to see in the student’s motivation letter? We will try to answer these and other questions in our publications on writing motivation letters. Today, I want to focus on the essential stages or steps in preparation for writing a letter of motivation. 

I know from experience that many students postpone writing a letter until the last day before the deadline. On the previous night, the long-awaited essay is born in a hurry. Of course, luck is the one who thoroughly knows the writing skill. In these cases, the letters of motivation are not wrong. But most often, essays written in haste are more like a statement of facts than a well-founded and thoughtful motivation. Supposing you didn’t get a chance to prepare properly and the deadline is so close you can’t write – there are some services like writance to help you. Still, you must understand that university is your choice, so the neglecting requirement is a questionable strategy. 

I offer you a simple step-by-step plan that will help you to properly allocate time over the letter of motivation and not delay everything until the last minute. And so, I suggest future students go through 9 steps in writing a letter of motivation:

STEP 1: Choosing a specialty

Choosing a specialty for studying at the university is a critical stage. The choice of profession and the whole life depends on the choice of thing. If you approach this issue correctly and prudently, this experience will help you to justify your choice in your motivation letter in the future.

STEP 2: Read the university requirements for applicants

Very often, I notice that students do not take into account the needs of universities. Applicants either underestimate themselves or, most often, overestimate.

Quite often, to my question – “In which university do you want to study?” – I get the answer: “Of course, Oxford, Cambridge, or Stanford.” Some students do not want to understand and accept that they do not fit the requirements of some educational institutions. The admissions committee does not make exceptions, especially regarding highly ranked universities or scholarships.

I will give you an example of several mistakes:

  • The university requires a master’s degree for admission to a master’s program – I will submit a bachelor’s degree; it will do;
  • I will be able to enter a UK university right after school.
  • I may not be asked for SAT or ACT scores;
  • The university requires a minimum of 2 years of work experience, I don’t have it, but I have good grades, probably lucky;

STEP 3: Attend exhibitions, seminars, presentations

Visiting fairs, workshops, and university presentations will help you determine what kind of students the university is looking for.

STEP 4: Create a list of universities you plan to apply to

At least three months before submitting documents to the university admissions office, decide on the universities you plan to use. Remember to share your experience choosing an educational institution in your motivation letter. This will create the impression that you have made a deliberate choice.

STEP 5: Write a draft

I advise you to devote one week to write a draft.

And yes, you have experience choosing a specialty, searching for a university, and selecting an educational institution. You can safely start writing a draft version of the motivation letter, in which you will describe the first four steps.

I suggest answering the following questions:

  • Why did you choose a particular major, and how did you choose it?
  • Write that you have read the requirements of universities for this specialty and the qualification.
  •  Explain why or how you meet the requirements of the universities.
  • How did you choose the universities you want to enter (write that you attended seminars and exhibitions and searched for information on the Internet)? 
  • What criteria did you take as a basis for choosing a university abroad? Why did you choose a particular university?

I advise students not to reread the draft immediately after writing. Write everything as it is, write out the theses individual sentences, and put the letter aside for a few days.

STEP 6: Consult with your teacher, parents, friends

It is essential that in the process of writing a motivation letter, you get an objective assessment of another person. It can be an English teacher, your friend, or your parents. Very often, students send us drafts of motivation letters for review. The consultant will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the motivation letter and suggest how to structure the text correctly.

STEP 7: Editing

Check the corrected text, and make the necessary changes. The type of motivation letter is essential. Especially if you are submitting a letter in text format. Generally, universities want to see a motivation letter on 1 or 2 A4 pages, approximately 4000 characters but not more (47 lines). Highlight paragraphs; they will help you to structure the text. Pay attention to the font; preferably use standard fonts, use only one font. Color – only black.

The motivation letter is NOT a portfolio!

STEP 8: Check it again

Reread the text of the letter, and pay attention to spelling, grammar, and correct use of words. Give the letter to your teacher or EDUSTEPS academic advisor to check.

STEP 9: Feel free to send your letter to the admissions committee

Good luck to you!