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How Do I Write a College Application Letter?

Well-written application letters and essays can help students make positive first impression.
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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2014
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Writing a college application letter does not need to be a stressful or difficult experience, but it is something you should take seriously and write carefully. Much like any other piece of writing, you should consider your audience and the purpose of what you are writing. Be sure to not only promote yourself, but also show how you as a prospective student would be a good match for the college or university to which you are applying. Just as important as the content of your college application letter is the text itself and so you should be sure it is free of spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and slang or spelling used in texting.

You should approach your college application letter just like any other piece of writing and focus on the purpose of your writing and your audience. With a college application letter, the purpose of your letter is to get accepted to the college or university. This may seem obvious, but it is something you should keep in mind as you are writing your letter. State specific programs you are interested in at the college, and mention your own academic performance and extracurricular activities that coincide with programs at the school.

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Similarly, you need to be aware of your audience when writing a college application letter. You should be aware of this in both a general sense and a specific sense. In general, know that you are writing for someone at a university who is in charge of admissions and likely reads dozens or hundreds of similar letters. This means you want your letter to stand out and get noticed. Make points about who you are, why you should be at the school, and what you can contribute to the college in a meaningful way.

On a specific level, your college application letter should directly address a person whenever possible. Do some research and learn who will likely be reading your letter and use the person’s name. Address the letter to “Dear Mr. Smith,” or “Dear Ms. Peterson,” rather than “To whom it may concern.” Make specific references to programs at the school that you are interested in, rather than vague assertions of your interest in your future education.

Like any professional or educational letter, your college application letter should be free of spelling and grammatical errors. Read through it multiple times and have others read it to ensure it is clear and concise. You should also be sure that you do not use slang or spelling used in text messages, in order to keep your letter professional in tone. It is also a good idea to end your letter by thanking the person for his or her time and including a positive note such as “I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

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Discuss this Article

hllywd
Post 2

I totally agree, when writing college application essays, it is also important to remember the audience. Different schools will expect different things. What @LesterT said about not focusing on a single event is important, but there is some room for variation in terms of schools. For instance, some schools really appreciate charity work, so writing about a charity organization you have worked for would be very relevant. Other schools are much more focused solely on academics, so writing about an extracurricular educational activity you have pursued would be helpful.

Finding out what kinds of things are relevant to different schools can be difficult, but there are a lot of resources out there for prospective students. It is true that students shouldn’t focus on a single event or idea, but incorporating related events or ideas can be more helpful than sending in something that could be disorganized.

LesterT
Post 1

It was touched on a bit in this article, but I think an important thing to remember when writing a college admissions essay is to really try to show who you are without trying to constantly reference a single major event in your life. What I mean by this is, while a charity trip or family tragedy might really have shaped who you are today, these kinds of essays are a dime a dozen in the college admissions process.

This was something that I had to learn when writing my essays. While visiting my first-choice school, a student who worked in admissions told me that the essay should really tell a story about you and who you are without focusing on a single event. He said that essays like that often seem trite and emotionless. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t write about those types of events, but it’s important to remember that a college wants to see a larger, more well-rounded picture of who you are.

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