Writing an Application Letter for College: How to Do That?

When applying to a college, you have to provide a pack of documents and may be you need an appliation essay. As a rule, the list includes your scores, recommendations, and other transcripts. However, there is one component that can confuse any applicant – a letter where you tell the admission committee who you are.

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Writing about yourself is not easy, and most students have problems with such a task. On the one hand, you don’t need to do any research or analysis.

On the other hand, you might get stuck with the main idea and the content of your paper. What exactly should you write? How to stand out from the crowd of other applicants?

Application letters vary. Some colleges state particular questions; the others encourage you to reflect on a specific topic. No matter what are the requirements, all application letters are based on one fundamental thing. The committee wants to know more about you, an applicant, and an individual.

Talking about yourself is not the most favorite practice for most of us. However, some tips can make your burden less heavy. Let’s discuss some principles in this post. Read it carefully and add them to your arsenal.

Read the prompt and do some brainstorming

As we have already mentioned, most colleges provide prompts for application letters. Some are pretty straightforward; the others are a bit strange and require a creative and courageous approach. As a rule, the prompts are pretty specific, so you should follow them carefully. Make sure that you understand what is expected of you.

The traditional prompt sounds like this: describe how a particular life experience shaped you as a person. Students usually write about challenging situations that changed their opinions about important things or personal stories that mean something significant. The question is open-ended, and you can write about anything that seems exciting and meaningful to you. The options vary from comical stories from your childhood to something serious and even dramatic.

Before you start writing the first draft, read the prompt carefully, and make a list of ideas. On the first step, you may want to list all the important things that happened to you and then pick the one that seems suitable for the task. Limit your list to 3-10 ideas. Choose the stories that don’t require too many details because the traditional word limit for such an assignment is about 500 words.

Choose the topic from your list

Try to avoid writing anything about your previous academic achievements – the committee will retrieve this information from your resume and exam scores. They already know about the volunteering programs and your grades. You don’t have to repeat this.

Take a close look at the list of ideas you have composed and chosen the one that describes you as a particular person. Remember, this is not just a story about something funny or interesting, but a narration about you. Create the text that characterizes you. And be honest – avoid making up stories that have never happened to you.

Think about the main traits of your character and let it be a starting point for your writing. Is it courage, honesty, loyalty, creativeness, or anything else? Think about your personal quality you would like to pinpoint and wrap your story around it.

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Don’t forget about the details

Your task is to tell what has happened and how you reacted to the event. Add descriptions, imagery, and sensory information to your text. Focus on what you saw, heard, felt, smelled, etc. Such details will make your letter livelier.

Avoid giving plain facts, but add memorable details. Sometimes, the color of someone’s jacket or a sound you have heard can shape the entire story. Again, be honest because it is hard to produce a vibrant and interesting text when you try to make up a story that has never happened. A lack of details will make your text plain. So just don’t do it. The committee doesn’t expect to see you as a superman but as an honest person.

Revise it and then revise it again

The editing process is the most complicated and daunting part of your application letter writing. You will definitely have to do thousands of edits or even rewrite your entire piece from scratch. The application letters rarely exceed 500 words, so you need to find a way to tell a detailed story briefly. Sometimes, describing your principles, ideas, and values in such a short essay is pretty challenging, so be concise and inventive.

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The chances are that the first version of your paper won’t be perfect, but that’s okay. It doesn’t have to. You will add more details later. Read it over and over again until you are completely satisfied with the result. Then leave your paper for a day or two, come back to it, and reread it. You will develop a distance between your text and yourself, gaining an opportunity to notice the weak parts that need some corrections. Did you provide enough details? Have you answered the prompt fully? Are there any clichéd or boring phrases in your text? Be critical to yourself. And don’t forget to check spelling and grammar. Mistakes are extremely embarrassing, and they can ruin the entire impression of your work, no matter how brilliant it is. If you are not sure that you can notice all the wishy-washy parts yourself, give your letter to someone else and ask for feedback.

When you are done with all these steps, submit your stellar paper, and prepare to start packing your stuff. Hopefully, you will appear at a college of your dream soon. Good luck with your application!