How To Write A Motivation Letter
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Dr Mohammad Shafiq

How To Write A Motivation Letter?

How To Write A Motivation Letter?

A motivation letter, popularly known as a personal statement, is a concise document that introduces you to the admissions committee of a university. It is an opportunity for you to explain why you are interested in studying at that particular university and program, as well as showcase your unique qualifications and experiences.

A solid motivation letter is crafted with a strong introduction, a well-written body, and a clear and concise conclusion. So, knowing how to write a motivation letter is of utmost importance. Let's dive deeper and see how you can write a successful motivation letter.

Understanding the Basics of a Motivation Letter

Definition and Purpose of a Motivation Letter

A motivational letter is often interchangeably called a personal statement or statement of purpose. It is a written document that explains why an applicant is interested in a particular program or university. It allows students to showcase their experiences, unique qualifications, and commitment to their chosen field.

The purpose of a motivation letter is to persuade the admission committee that you are a good fit for the program or opportunity. It is also a way to express your passion and enthusiasm for the program or university you are applying for.

Differences Between A Motivation Letter, Personal Statement, and Statement of Purpose

The terms motivation letter, personal statement, and statement of purpose are often used interchangeably. However, there are several subtle differences between the three.

A motivation letter is typically used for academic applications, such as university or graduate school programs. It is a chance to discuss your academic interests and goals and explain why you are a good fit for the program you are applying to.

On the other hand, a personal statement is a more general document that can be used for various applications, such as jobs, internships, or scholarships. It is a chance to share your personal story and experiences and explain why you are interested in the university you are applying to.

A statement of purpose is similar to a motivation letter but is typically more specific. It is used for academic applications and is a chance to discuss your research interests and career goals.

When and Why You Would Need to Submit a Motivation Letter             

You may have to submit a motivation letter for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Academic applications: Many universities and graduate schools require applicants to submit a motivation letter.
  • Job applications: Some employers, especially in academia or non-profit organizations, may require applicants to submit a motivation letter. It is a chance to discuss your qualifications and experience and explain why you are interested in the position you are applying for.
  • Scholarship applications: Many scholarships require applicants to submit a motivation letter. It allows you to discuss your academic and career goals and explain why you deserve the scholarship.
  • Internship applications: Some internships, especially in competitive fields, may require applicants to submit a motivation letter. It lets you explain why you are interested in the internship and what you hope to learn from it.

Motivation Letter Pre-Writing Steps

Pre-Writing Steps

Understanding the Prompt or Guidelines Given by the University

The first step in writing a motivation letter is to carefully read and understand the prompt or guidelines given by the university. It will help you ensure your letter is crafted for the program and institution you are applying to.

The following are some common questions that may appear in a motivation letter prompt:

  • Why are you interested in this particular program and university?
  • What are your academic and career goals?
  • What unique qualifications and experiences do you bring to the table?
  • How will you contribute to the program and community?

Research about the University and the Course You're Applying For

Once you understand the prompt, take some time to research the program and university you are applying to. It will help you to write a more informed and specific motivation letter.

You can consider the following factors while researching the university and program you are applying for:

  • The university's mission and values
  • The university's reputation and ranking
  • The program's curriculum and faculty
  • The university's location and resources

Reflecting on Your Personal, Academic, and Career Goals

Another essential step in the pre-writing process is to reflect on your personal, academic, and career goals. What are your passions? What do you hope to achieve in your education and career? How does the program you are applying to fit into your overall goals? Take some time and get answers to these questions. It will help you craft a more authentic and compelling motivation letter.

Gathering Relevant Experiences and Achievements that Highlight Your Motivation

After understanding your goals, you must gather relevant experiences and achievements highlighting your motivation for applying to the program. It can include academic achievements, extracurricular activities, work experience, or research experience. Choose experiences relevant to the program and demonstrate your skills and abilities.

How to Structure Your Motivation Letter

How to Structure Your Motivation Letter

Importance of a Well-Structured Letter

A well-structured motivation letter is crucial for several reasons. First, it makes your letter easy to read and understand. The admissions committee should be able to quickly and easily identify your key points and qualifications.

Second, a good structure ensures your letter is flowing and cohesive. Your ideas should be connected and build on each other. Finally, a robust structure will make your letter more engaging and memorable.

Typical Structure of a Motivation Letter

A well-written motivation letter should come with a precise and clear structure with three elements:

  • Introduction: The introduction of the motivation letter should be able to grab the reader's attention and introduce yourself. You can include your personal story or an anecdote or state your purpose for writing.
  • Main Body: The main body of your motivation letter should be divided into two or three paragraphs, each focusing on a different aspect of your qualifications and experiences. For example, you can discuss your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, or research experience.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion of your letter should sum up the main points and reaffirm your interest in the program and university. You must also thank the reader for their time and consideration.

Tips on How to Make Each Section Engaging and Compelling

Here are some pro tips on how to write a motivational letter with each section being engaging and compelling:  

  • Be specific and personal in the letter. Do not use generic language or clichés. Instead, focus on sharing your own unique story and experiences.
  • Be honest and authentic in everything you share. Don't try to pretend someone you're not. The admission committee can tell if you're being genuine.
  • Be clear and concise in each part of the motivation letter. Proofread everything carefully before submitting it.

Writing the Motivation Letter

How to Start Your Motivation Letter

Here’s how to write a good motivation letter opening:

1. Writing a Strong Opening

The first sentence of your motivation letter is crucial for grabbing the reader's attention. So, try to avoid using clichés or generic statements. Instead, you can start by sharing a personal story or anecdote relevant to your academic interests or future goals.

2. Introducing Yourself and Your Aspirations

Introduce yourself and briefly explain your academic interests and career aspirations in the first paragraph of your motivation letter. Make sure to state the specific program you are applying to and why you are interested.

Writing the Main Body

The main body of your motivation letter is where you will have the most space to develop your ideas. You should be focusing on the following points while writing the main body:

1. Highlighting your Academic Achievements

Start by discussing your academic achievements, such as your GPA, test scores, and any awards or honors you have received. Ensure to include and highlight any relevant achievements to the program you are applying to.

2. Showcasing Relevant Experiences and Skills

Then, discuss any relevant experiences or skills that you have, such as extracurricular activities, work experience, or research experience. Highlight all the experiences demonstrating your passion for your field of study and your commitment to learning.

3. Demonstrating Your Understanding of the Course and the University

Explain why you are interested in the program and university you are applying to. How can the program help you achieve your career goals? Include all these in the main body.

4. Explaining Why You're the Perfect Candidate for the Course

Finally, you must explain why you are the perfect candidate for the program in the letter's main body. What unique qualifications and experiences do you bring to the table? How will you contribute to the program and the university community? Be specific and confident in answering these questions.

Writing A Compelling Conclusion

The conclusion of your motivation letter is your last chance to leave a positive impression on the reader. Summarize the main points and reiterate your motivation and readiness for the program. Here are some specific things you can include in your conclusion to make it compelling:

1. Reiterating Your Motivation and Readiness

Reiterate your motivation for applying to the program and your readiness to succeed. Do not forget to thank the reader for their consideration and time.

2. Offering a Positive and Forward-looking Close

Finally, end your motivation letter on a positive and forward-looking note. You must express your excitement about possibly studying at the university and pursuing your academic and career goals.

Proofreading and Polishing Your Letter

Proofreading and Polishing Your Letter

It’s crucial to understand how to write a motivation letter for university. So, proofreading and polishing your motivation letter is a must for making a good impression on the admissions committee. A well-written letter is always free of errors and easy to read, as well as clear, concise, and persuasive.

Importance of revising and editing your letter

Once you are done writing your motivation letter, you must revise and edit it carefully. It will help you find any errors and ensure your letter is as strong as possible.

Checking for Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling Errors

Grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors are among the most crucial things to check for when proofreading your letter. Even a tiny error can make your letter look unprofessional and damage your chances of acceptance. 

Checking for Clarity, Coherence, and Conciseness

Another essential thing to check for when proofreading is your letter's clarity, coherence, and conciseness. Make sure that it is easy to understand and that your ideas are presented logically. Avoid using unnecessary words and phrases.

Seeking Feedback from Mentors, Teachers, or Trusted Individuals

You can ask a mentor, teacher, or trusted individual to review your motivation letter before you submit it. They can provide feedback on your letter and help you identify any areas that need improvement.

Final Revision and Submission

Finally, when you receive feedback on your letter, take some time to revise it one last time. Make sure to address all of the feedback that you have received and that your letter is polished and ready for submission.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Motivation Letter

Overloading with Irrelevant Information

Your motivation letter should only focus on your academic interests, goals, and why you are a good fit for the specific program and university you are applying to.

Failing to Showcase Your Understanding of the Course and University

You must demonstrate your understanding of the program and university you are applying to, including what you know about the program’s curriculum, faculty, and research opportunities.

Neglecting to Show How Your Experiences and Skills Align with the Course

The letter should highlight your relevant experiences and skills and show how they align with the program you are applying to.

Using Clichés and Generic Statements

You must never use clichés and generic statements in your motivation letter. Be specific and personal, and share your unique story and experiences.

Examples of Successful Motivation Letters

A successful motivation letter is typically well-written, clear, and concise. It’s also specific and personal and highlights the applicant's unique qualifications and experiences.

You should read examples of successful motivation letters when writing your motivation letter. It will give you a better understanding of what the admissions committee is looking for and how to structure your letter effectively.

Conclusion

Writing a motivational letter can be daunting but crucial for university admission as it can significantly affect your chances of acceptance into your dream university. That’s why knowing how to write a motivation letter that is well-written and concise will give you a competitive edge over other applicants. So, I highly encourage you to take your time to write a thoughtful motivation letter.

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