How To Write An Application Letter For College
Writing your college application letter can be one of the trickier pages of prose that you put together in your high school career. On the one hand, it’s just a single page, but on the other, how do you talk about the kind of stuff you need to talk about without boring someone to tears? I definitely feel where you’re coming from. Over the course of my high school, college, and now professional career, I have written a TON of application letters. Still, it has been a long time since I’ve written an application letter that speaks to your specific purpose. Therefore, I’ve pulled in a sample from morristont on SlideShare. You can click the image in this post to read just the letter on your own, but what I am going to do is go through each section and explain why it works. Hopefully between the two of us, we can have you well on your way to that acceptance. Let’s get started!
When I don’t know where to begin on a project, I often like to first target the things that need little explanation. Setting down the right addresses in the right places allows me to do just that. For a college application letter, stay flush left. Put your name and address first, along with the date. Below that, write out the specific address for where the letter is to go, in this case, “Admission Office / HYPer University / Street Address / College City, State, Zip Code.”
The example letter leads with simply “Admissions Office,” but wisely (in parentheses) notes, “or even better, get a real name.” This may seem like a throwaway suggestion, but it’s truly one of the most important steps you can ever take when crafting this and future letters. Throughout my career, I’ve been able to interview interesting personalities like UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, literary great Ray Bradbury, and others, based solely on the fact that I sent my letter to the person, who represented them instead of simply their general agencies. It may mean that you have to surf a website or two and even place a call to the admissions office, speak with a live person, and get their specific name, but it will definitely be worth it.
3. Paragraph One
In the first sentence of this paragraph, the author tells the person they are writing to exactly what is in the package they’ve just received. In the next sentence, he or she states their objective. In the third, the writer sets up where this package fits in with the overall application process and then lists several bullets regarding what has already been received, what is arriving now, and what is to be mailed separately. By now, you may be referring back to the first paragraph of this blog post where I said, “On the one hand, it’s [your application letter] just a single page, but on the other, how do you talk about the kind of stuff you need to talk about without boring someone to tears?”
That said, you’re now probably thinking, “Wait, how is any of this exciting?” Easy. It’s not. But then your application letter isn’t supposed to be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s functional writing. Writing to serve a purpose and meet an objective. Not writing to entertain. That doesn’t mean you have to be boring. (There’s a reason these things should only be one page.) You don’t want to waste anyone’s time, but at the same time, you want to clearly communicate what they need to know and offer a glimpse of your personality and what makes you stand out.
4. Paragraph Two
As you can see, we’ve included the bullet points in paragraph one, so now it’s time to move on to this next chunk of text. Why does it work in the example? 1) The writer is emphasizing to the school that they are number one. 2) They support that statement by getting specific and telling why the school is perfect for them. 3) They add additional details that are specifically tailored to HYPer University (class ratio, internship emphasis, location).
5. The Sendoff
Here, we will group the last two paragraphs into the same unit since they are both just sentences. In sentence one — the next-to-last paragraph — the writer briefly acknowledges the challenging part of the application process and restates the fact they feel their qualifications are complete and worthy without being boastful. In sentence two, there is a polite thank you for their time and consideration. Last but not least, there is the closing — “Sincerely, Zane R. Smith.”
Again, the application letter example isn’t written to entertain. It’s written to serve specific purposes — in this case, those purposes are to touch base with the university; to detail the contents of the application package that have been met as well as those that are currently being met, and those that will be met in the future; to show that the student is adept at following instructions; to establish the university as a good fit for the student and vice-versa; and to show the student is able to present himself or herself in a professional manner. An application letter by itself will not get you into the school of your choice, but a bad one can get you rejected in a hurry. If you’re having trouble, just refer back to the sections in this blog post as well as the sample letter and take on one part at a time until you have a complete and professional application letter. Good luck!
[Image via SlideShare]