According to Indiana University, a university application letter, also called a personal statement, serves three important purposes. The application letter serves to introduce yourself, outline your goals, past experiences and qualifications and display your writing skills. The university you are applying to might supply a specific topic, such as your greatest accomplishment or challenges you faced and overcame, or you might write a general letter saying why the university should consider your application. Regardless of the topic, the process of writing the letter is the same.
Read the instructions the university supplies for writing the application letter. Make sure you understand the topic or questions you must answer in the letter. According to Purdue University, the most common mistake applicants make is not taking the time to understand what the question is asking. In addition, look at specific writing requirements, such as length and formatting guidelines, and the time line for completing and submitting the letter.
Gather the information you need to complete the letter. Examples of supporting documentation you might find helpful include grade transcripts and a current resume that includes descriptions, names and dates of extracurricular activities, past jobs, internships or volunteer positions you held in the past or currently hold.
Write a few notes to yourself that you can refer to when writing the application letter. Purdue University provides examples of questions to consider that include defining how and why you developed an interest in your intended field of study and an outline of your career goals. Also consider skills and personal characteristics you possess that relate to, and improve your chance for success in your field of study, a description of obstacles you overcame to get where you are now and reasons why the admissions committee should consider your application.
Create an outline for your application letter. According to the University of Toronto, a good application letter is organized, focused and specific. Creating an outline can provide structure for your letter, help you identify the main points your letter will cover and serve as a checklist to ensure you include the supporting documentation required for evidence.
Write a first draft using the format your school requires. According to Indiana University, most application letters and personal statements are between 250 and 500 words and follow a format that includes an introduction, body and conclusion. In the introduction, mention the degree or field of study for which you are applying and include a short personal statement that, for example, describes a family member or experience that influenced your career decision. The body of your letter should address the topic and answer all required questions. The conclusion ties together the information you provided in your letter and restates your interest in the program.
Edit the content and structure of your letter. Start by reading the letter aloud and having another person do the same. Make sure your letter addresses the topic or questions and then spell and grammar check your letter.
Write the final draft and complete another spell and grammar check before you submit it.
Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.