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5 tips to write a successful motivation letter

Writing a motivation letter can be stressful and scary at times. How are you supposed to present yourself and your motivations in one letter and actually convince your reader that you are the right candidate?

I remember being in your shoes one year ago and wishing to stumble upon the tips I’ll be sharing with you today. I hope this will be helpful and help you get into your dream program!

Here are my five tips for writing a successful motivation letter:

1. Your letter has to be personal

You are writing a letter about yourself, therefore it has to be unique and tell YOUR story. Wherever you are, you have interesting experiences, you lived in interesting cities, and you have a passion for something and that is worth mentioning to your reader. For instance, I wrote about my participation in some protests in Beirut and how the demands were linked to sustainable development. Find out which story you would like to tell, and share it. This will allow the reader to grasp who you are! Drop the sample letters, they do not stand out and they are very fast forgotten.

The letter has to be unique for you but also for your reader. I would avoid every standard phrase about universities and establishments and write specifically for the university you are applying for.

2. Simple and concise

It is not really important to have fancy words here I believe. Do not overthink the writing style of your letter. Go for simple and concise. Write meaningful sentences and erase what doesn’t add to your story. It also helps to have a clear structure and clear paragraphs that help you organize the content of the letter.

3. Present yourself

The reader that you are actually writing to have no clue about who you are. They might have checked your grades or your previous diplomas but this is a perfect opportunity for you to present yourself. Cast light on some important education or work experience and don’t forget volunteer work. In other words, what you have studied as well as extracurricular work and activities. In my letter, I mentioned my architectural studies but also internships and volunteer work at some organizations.

4. Say why you are applying and what you expect

Your reader is interested to know why you chose the programme at this specific university and your motivations to attend this course. Was it the high ranking of the university that was appealing to you? Was it the ambition to be in a city that drives you? Is it because it completes your previous degrees and adds up to your career objectives? Write down what you aim for but also what you are expecting from the university and the programme. What kind of outcomes do you think you will reach? What will you learn from them?

5. Talk about the future

End the letter by talking about the future. In this section, you would project yourself some years later when you have graduated. Where would you like to be? What would you like to work with? Do you want to pursue a Ph.D.? Are you hoping to work for a specific company or organization? Do you want to save (or destroy) the world with that degree? This helps the reader or admissions committee to understand what your long term objectives are and that the programme you are applying for is actually important to the vision you have in mind. It is okay of course to not have a clear idea about the future, and it will eventually change along the way, but I believe giving a hint about your future ambitions is important.

These are the main 5 points I believe will help you stand out, portray yourself, and most importantly show your motivations and expectations.

I hope you are inspired!

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