Oct 20, 2022

How to Write a Successful Letter of Motivation

Writing a letter of motivation is a stressful period in every student's life.

This post will walk you through all the required elements of a successful College motivation letter (sometimes known as a statement of purpose) to ensure your application stands out.

A strong letter of motivation will give the admissions officer a clear idea about who you are and why you are a good fit for this program.

Colleges and Universities (used interchangeably in this post) across the world often have a disparity between supply and demand. The limited number of places available per degree program means the competition for a place is intense. Thus, admission officers are looking for intelligent, motivated and hardworking applicants that have the potential to succeed in their fields.

Getting into a top-ranking college can be competitive, so it’s important to stand out from the crowd.

Important motivation letter questions to consider

  1. What type of college are you applying to?

  2. How can you convince the college you are the best candidate?

  3. How can you stand out from the crowd?

  4. What is their acceptance criteria?

  5. What unique experiences can you touch upon in the letter?

  6. Can you show any evidence of leadership or community service?

How do Colleges decide who to admit?

Primarily, Colleges look at an applicant’s grades to see if the basic criteria is met. So having a high GPA is very important! However, this is not the only criteria considered. Successful applicants also demonstrate an ability to think critically, solve problems creatively and take initiative in academic and extracurricular activities.

However, after this first filter, top Colleges still have an excess in the number of applicants to places available. This is where a strong motivation letter can give you an edge over other applicants.

With this in mind, it is essential to reference the University you are applying to directly. Motivation letters that are generic will likely be dismissed.

Tools to help with your motivation letter

1. Jenni.ai

Jenni is an AI assisted co-writing tool that writes alongside you. If you are suffering from a lack of inspiration, Jenni will suggest new sentence ideas to spark inspiration. After writing a draft with Jenni, you can then edit to improve your wording or add more detail.

Use code MOTIVATION30 for a 30% discount on any plan 🎉

2. Hemingway editor

Hemingway is a tool that will help you check your spelling and grammar. What's more, the tool will help you improve your writing style to be clearer and more persuasive.

3. Study portals

Find the background information for Universities and Colleges worldwide. Study portals give you access to course information which is helpful when crafting your motivation letter.

Step-by-step process for writing your motivation letter

It is important to give yourself ample time before the submission deadline to craft your motivation letter. We recommend a minimum of 2 weeks to allow enough time to edit and improve your draft before submission.

  1. Start by brainstorming your core strengths in a bullet list.

  2. Write a rough draft including all potential talking points.

  3. Take a break and return with fresh eyes.

  4. Take a look at motivation letter examples on the web. We like this computer science and engineering example.

  5. Refine your draft by cutting weak points or excessive text (do multiple rounds).

  6. Share this version with a teacher or counselor for actionable feedback.

  7. Implement the feedback to further strengthen your draft.

  8. Final grammar check and submission!

It is important to note, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to a writing process. However, we always suggest switching between writing and editing mode rather than doing both simultaneously.

How to format a motivation letter

Formatting your motivation letter correctly is an easy win that can help you stand out from other applicants. Here are 5 simple tips to ensure you achieve the correct format:

  1. Select a simple, legible typeface. Popular choices are Times New Roman, Calibri, or Garamond.

  2. Use 12-point font with 1.15 to 1.25 line spacing for maximum readability.

  3. Use bold in order to call attention to headers, but avoid overusing it.

  4. Keep the letter to one page of A4.

  5. Avoid lengthy paragraphs with walls of text.

  6. Typically we suggest following a 3-section format (intro, body, conclusion).

Final thoughts

We hope this guide has given you the clarity and confidence required to write your own motivational letter.

Before submitting your full application to your chosen schools, we recommend asking a teacher or your guidance counselor to review your letter and give you feedback. They will have ample first-hand experience with college admissions and can spot mistakes you may otherwise miss.

Best of luck in your application process.

Frequently asked questions

Should I exaggerate my achievements?

We do not recommend falsifying and excessively exaggerating any achievements written in your application. While it can seem impressive to include outlandish claims about your skills or accomplishments, the admissions committee is smart enough to spot through these tricks.

At worst, it will undermine the credibility of your application and make you appear dishonest and untruthful, which is likely not the desired impression you wish to make. Write with confidence and explain the impact you had on your school/club/team/community organization by showcasing real examples of your involvement through numbers and facts, rather than empty boasts.

What should I include in my motivation letter?

There is no hard and fast rule for what to include in your motivation letter. Every applicant has a unique set of skills, goals, and experiences and will therefore write different content.

However, as a rule of thumb, try to include the following:

Introduction, we generally suggest addressing the reader with "Dear Sir/Madam" if the reader's name is unknown.

  1. Your academic experience and why it is relevant to the program you are applying to.

  2. Your academic and career goals

  3. Experience outside of academia such as voluntary work, side projects, or employment

  4. Your conclusion should make a strong final impression.

Motivation letter vs. cover letter

The two are similar in concept, but there are a few important differences to take note of. A cover letter is usually attached to your resume when sending in a job application. The two are largely similar but the subtle difference is that a motivation letter should be written as part of your college application materials whereas a cover letter is written directly for an employer when applying for a job.

When writing a college application letter, you will usually have greater freedom in how you choose to represent yourself than you will when writing a cover letter for a job application.

Try Jenni for free today

Create your first piece of content with Jenni today and never look back