A college letter of intent sample is a great way to learn and practice how to craft a strong letter. An expertly crafted letter of intent can help improve your chances of getting accepted into the programs you’re applying to. While not every school will require one, it’s essential to know what it takes to write one in case you have to. In this article, we explain the importance and purpose of a college letter of intent and the steps you need to take to write one. Then, we provide an example you can use to start a college essay in this format.
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What Is a College Letter of Intent?
A college letter of intent is a document that states who you are, what your interests are within the context of the program, and how you intend to add value to the school and program. Note that the content can be similar to that of various college essay topics. A letter of intent may be required at various educational levels, including undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate programs; for higher-level admissions processes, you may need to create a letter summarizing your research background and how you intend to produce valuable research for the school. Undergraduate letters should focus on your best academic and personal qualities; it should explain who you are along with your goals in college and in your career. If you’re applying for a graduate or post-graduate program, you may review a research interest statement sample, which is exclusively for research and typically contains graphics and more detail.
For example, for certain programs, such as the Bachelor of Education, St. Thomas University requires a letter of intent and resume as part of the application. The letter of intent should include information about why the applicant wants to apply to the program; this should focus on strengths and why you think you can have a positive impact in your field. You can discuss how some of your experiences connect with the program you're applying to and the career you’re building. The admissions committee wants to see how your experiences taught you important skills that apply specifically to the program and your prospective career path. For undergraduates, it’s important to focus on volunteer endeavors with a measurable impact, work related to your career aspirations, your best extracurriculars for college, internships, and top summer programs for high school students you may have attended.
Letter of Intent vs. Personal Statement
A college letter of intent is often mistaken for a personal statement; this is understandable because they share many of the same features. The main difference is that a personal statement is more about your personal background and experiences, while the letter of intent is geared toward your academic background, resume, or extracurricular experiences. Additionally, colleges in the US that use the Common App Essay will require a personal statement, not a letter of intent, with a specific prompt and length that is similar to the requirements of a letter of intent. This is why it’s important to know the differences, starting with the content:
When writing a letter of intent, it’s important to be specific with your examples and not repeat information from your other materials. In your personal statement, you will discuss what inspired you to want to apply to the school and program and what appeals to you about it specifically. A letter of intent may address this as well, but you will have to be more detailed; you can mention aspects of the curriculum or experiential components to help ground your answers. A letter of intent should also be written in the format and tone of a business letter; a personal statement should be written in essay format. You should follow the instructions on the university or college website to make sure you meet all the requirements before submitting.
How to Write a College Letter of Intent
Writing a college letter of intent requires an extensive review of your various academic and non-academic experiences; you will also need to consider the school you’re applying to and what the program offers. Lastly, you will need to connect your goals with the school’s values and program outcomes. Schools want to know that you’re a student worth investing in; a letter of intent is your chance to convince them that you’re a candidate who will succeed in the program, contribute to the community, and become a leader in your career.
Here are the main steps involved in writing a persuasive college letter of intent:
Your first step should be to research the school and program to which you’re applying. You need to know the specifics about what the school’s values are, what the program offers, and the research and teaching strategies/directions. The best way to find out about a school’s values is to locate its strategic plan and mission statement. The strategic plan will contain information about the school’s developmental priorities, for example, increasing diversity and making education more accessible to certain disadvantaged groups, or perceived challenges with steps the school will take to overcome them. You should be familiar with a school’s strategic plan so that you can align your own goals with theirs. If anything about a school’s mission resonates with you, highlight it so that you can mention it in your essay. If you’re also writing a college diversity essay, make sure you don’t repeat any information.
Your research should also include information about the program’s curriculum and overview. Before writing any material, establish that you understand what appeals to you about the program. The first place to look is at the curriculum; for instance, the Wharton School of Business MBA curriculum offers a variety of fixed and flexible courses, each with its own defined purpose and underscored outcomes. Study each course individually; let’s say you value the ability to customize your studies with a large inventory of electives – then you might discuss this in your letter of intent. Start by compiling a series of professional goals and corresponding components of the curriculum. Also consider elements that fall outside of the curriculum; for example, Duke Law School offers an experiential learning component that includes clinics and labs. Your research should also underscore aspects of the school’s community or non-academic offerings.
Many students will have a “dream school” – a college they have always wanted to attend or have been told they should attend to be successful in their chosen field. The risk here is to rely on superlatives or generalizations in your letter of intent by stating, for example, “I’ve always known that NYU Steinhardt is the place for me. Studying to be an artist in New York City is my dream.” While this may be true and could represent a good opening statement, you will need to follow up with precise details about why your art will be most supported in this environment and what specific program components will be most relevant to you, based on the language used by the school in their own documentation.
2. Outline Your Academic History
You need to document your academic history if you’re going to discuss it in some detail in a letter of intent. For undergraduate programs, you can discuss your experience profile within the context of school instead. For example, if you did a high school internship or took part in various extracurriculars or volunteering experiences, these are important to discuss in your letter of intent. You can also focus on your academic accomplishments, such as the honor roll or any subject awards. You won’t have room to discuss every aspect of your academic accomplishments, current standing, and future goals, as the document is typically around 1 to 2 pages long or 400–800 words. You will need to sift through the most significant information and choose certain aspects that will emphasize your competence and academic readiness.
To decide what experiences from your academic history you want to include in your letter of intent, you should select based on how the experience aligns with the program and school. Your research will be guided by the question “what experience-based activities are offered at this school and program?” You might find that a school offers certain lab experiments, internships, practicums, or field exercises that you think will enhance your learning experience significantly. If you studied abroad in high school, you might appreciate the opportunity to do so during your undergraduate studies.
3. Create a Rough Outline
The next step is to create a rough outline of your college letter of intent. First, you must know how to structure it; some schools will have specific letter of intent formatting requirements. Take Ottawa Law, for example; they require Times New Roman 12-point font, single-spaced, 2 cm minimum margins, and approximately 500 words or a maximum of 2 pages of content. Not every school will state formatting requirements directly; if you’re applying to such a school, note that the above formatting requirements are generally standard for this document. Once you have the formatting requirements in order, you can start writing an outline.
The purpose of an outline is to guide the production of your first draft and ensure that you include all the necessary elements. This will make it easier to connect ideas and establish a hierarchy of information in an organized fashion. The content isn’t the only aspect of the letter you need to get right; to impress admissions, you also need to make sure your letter is formatted and organized correctly. By creating an outline first, you can check that you have fulfilled these basic requirements before focusing on the content itself.
Consider this blueprint to help you with this portion of planning the letter:
4. Edit the Letter
Editing the letter is an important but often overlooked step. You will need to read through the document carefully to make sure there are no grammatical or syntax errors; you will also need to complete a line edit to make sure the information is organized and cohesive. You should be prepared to “kill your darlings” – this means you should be prepared to remove information that is tangential or without purpose, even though it might be interesting or meaningful to you. It can help to read your letter out loud; this is a great way to scan the document for readability and pacing. You can often locate places where you could add or subtract a comma or a semi-colon. You could also have someone read the document for you; ideally, you will want to have someone with experience crafting a successful letter of intent read through the letter and provide suggestions for improving it.
College Letter of Intent Sample for St. Thomas University Bachelor of Education
Dear Members of the St. Thomas Selection Committee,
I am writing to express my interest in the Bachelor of Education Program at your institution. I believe that St. Thomas University’s emphasis on a cross-disciplinary approach to teaching and learning is an innovative and important means of ensuring an inclusive educational environment for students of all ages and backgrounds. I also believe that having two field placement programs at different grade levels will allow me to practice core teaching concepts and theories learned in the classroom so I can become a strong teaching professional.
I earned my high school diploma from Westside High School. I was the valedictorian of my graduating class and the winner of the humanities award for demonstrated excellence in family studies, social science, and philosophy. I also graduated with honors. My career goal is to become a middle school educator; as I believe my two strongest subjects are philosophy and English, I think a role in which I specialize in only one of two subjects would suit my interests and strengths the most.
During my senior year of high school, I volunteered as a tutor with a local tutoring service. My primary duty was to grade tests and written compositions for Grade 2 math and English students. I have also tutored students at various levels ranging from Grade 1 to 12; subjects for older students included philosophy, math, science, and English. My supervisor, Jane Hart, was a teacher at a private school; as part of my training, she taught me about some of the teaching principles that I would need to succeed as a tutor and grader. One of these teaching principles was to use dialectic to allow students to figure out the right answers on their own, rather than being told or shown directly. I believe this is such a powerful strategy because it introduces students to a tool they can use to develop and practice their critical thinking skills and improve their answers in the future. This teaching principle, in my estimation, strongly resonates with St. Thomas’s determination to create teachers that challenge and inspire their students.
To fulfill my community service hours, I took charge of a fundraising group, comprised of about twenty students from all grade levels at my high school. I was responsible for organizing events, hosting meetings, and brainstorming fundraising ideas. As one of the leaders of this group, one skill that I developed was public speaking. Not only was I in charge of speaking to the students in the fundraising group, I also occasionally did speeches in front of the school for recruitment and presentations demonstrating our efforts. This experience taught me that it takes more than just confidence to stand up in front of a crowd; you must also captivate them. I learned early on that if I was going to recruit more members, I would have to get better at engaging with the audience. One method I used to get my audience’s attention was to have them participate in a quiz or game that demonstrated the purpose of the presentation. This allowed me to engage with them and hold their attention for longer.
I’ve also learned a lot about what it takes to become a strong educator through my experience as someone who needed extra help in one of my Grade 10 classes. I was having trouble grasping the concept of factoring and graphing the quadratic equation, so I asked my teacher to occasionally spend some time after class to help me practice. After I had attempted a variety of questions and still had trouble understanding what to do, the teacher decided to explain by going back to an earlier concept that we covered at the start of the class. What I discovered was that I needed to refamiliarize myself with an earlier concept to revise my understanding of the concept I was having difficulty grasping. This was an important realization for me as I continued volunteering at my local tutoring facility where I was teaching students with a variety of strengths and weaknesses in different subjects. Oftentimes, going back to more basic concepts was the most effective course of action.
My experience working as a tutor and volunteering with a fundraising group at my high school has taught me a great deal about how to inspire and motivate students. I now understand that teaching and learning is not a linear process; rather, it requires an adaptable and compassionate framework to be effective. I would be honored to join your school and continue to build these skills as I pursue my goal of becoming a middle school teacher.
I am eager and ready to learn. Thank you for your time and consideration, and for giving me the opportunity to become a member of your community.
College Letter of Intent Sample for University of British Columbia Graduate Psychology
Dear Members of the University of British Columbia Admissions Committee,
I am writing to inform you of my interest in the Master of Psychology program at the University of British Columbia. I have submitted my application with the necessary documentation.
I very much support the school’s recent strategic aim of developing a stronger campus community by installing the Psychology Students’ Association (PSA). I am convinced that an effective non-academic outlet for productive discourse in the field of psychology will provide a more enriching learning experience; I also believe that providing students with a means of self-advocacy will empower us to collaborate and create better research opportunities for psychology students.
I currently hold a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from X University. I graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.80, and I was on the Dean’s list and honor roll for eight consecutive semesters. I was also a member of the Undergraduate Student Association for Psychology and an active volunteer at the school’s outreach center for domestic abuse survivors.
I’ve been a keen observer of human behavior since I was a kid; my mother was a social worker, and I was often brought along on her various community service projects. There was one particular instance where we were meeting some members of the homeless community who were being welcomed into a newly built shelter my mother’s organization helped fund. I was twelve at the time; my mother explained to me that many of the homeless individuals she knew in the program were either currently suffering from addiction or were at some point during their lives but had recovered. This was the moment I began to think about the flexibility of the human mind, as well as the accessibility of mental health programs for marginalized individuals.
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When I wasn’t studying or contributing to student groups, I was participating in research projects with my psychology professors. I was a member of the Psychology Research Experience Program for the last two years of my undergraduate studies; I worked on two significant projects that influenced my decision to pursue research in a similar field in graduate school. The first project was an investigation of the disparate nature of implicit vs explicit attitudes. We used the implicit association test (IAT) to evaluate implicit bias scores and self-reports for explicit attitudes. The results revealed interesting differences between behavior and overt beliefs and values; in my future research, I would like to explore this distinction further and work on refining more accurate measures of this difference. The second project studied the effects of diverse leadership and the perception of representation in media. Both projects align with recent research directions at the University of British Columbia; the wide range of faculty members express research interests in behavioral neuroscience, health, and other subjects. I share the faculty’s determination to understand the relationship between human perception and health outcomes for different groups. To learn from, and possibly pursue research, with such a well-rounded group, is an opportunity I would be incredibly grateful for.
Moreover, exploring social learning categories and the manifestation of subconscious feelings through complex behavior is an exciting prospect offered by your program. Some of the electives include courses that pertain to my particular research interests: culture and identity, gender, and health. I believe that a strong foundation in statistics is also important, which is why I am thrilled about pursuing advanced learning in multivariate statistical analysis, in addition to other analytical methods.
In addition to my demonstrated interest in human perception, my experience as a human resource worker has enabled me to learn a great deal about human behavior. I know that there is still a lot more I can learn; after I graduate, I hope to work as a project officer for mental health and addictions to improve health outcomes in society through social service initiatives. I believe my background in human resources and my passion for improving society through a deeper understanding of human psychology has prepared me for your program.
I am ready to continue my education to pursue my goal of working with government bodies to provide better access to mental health resources. Thank you for taking the time to review my application; I hope to have the opportunity to become a member of your outstanding community.
We hope these guidelines and examples give you a good idea of how to approach a college letter of intent for either undergraduate or graduate studies. Of course, any other documents you are required to provide must also be well written and include all the necessary information to reflect your qualities and why you are a strong candidate for your chosen program; consider using a college advisor to help with the rest of your application.
1. What is a college letter of intent?
A college letter of intent is a document you send as part of your application to some university programs. Your statement should include why you think you’re a strong candidate for the program based on your background, research interests, and what the program and school offer.
2. Do all college programs require a letter of intent?
Not all schools will require a letter of intent, but some, particularly for graduate or post-graduate programs, will. Visit the website of the school to which you’re applying to find out about the admissions requirements.
3. What is the difference between a letter of intent and a personal statement?
A letter of intent is typically more detailed and focused on your background and the program. A personal statement is an essay you write to introduce yourself and justify your interest in the program.
4. What are the formatting requirements for a college letter of intent?
Typically, a letter of intent should be between 400 and 800 words, or 1 to 2 pages. The font size should be 12, Times New Roman. Content formatting requirements vary by school, so check the admissions page for the school you’re applying to.
5. What are the structural components of a college letter of intent?
You should have an introduction, main body, and conclusion. Your introduction can include a brief overview of your background and the purpose of the letter; the main body should be a detailed account of what appeals to you about the program using information about their research interests and yours; the conclusion should reinforce your determination to enroll in the program.
6. How can I create a strong letter of intent?
You should research the school and program; find out what appeals to you about the curriculum and brainstorm ideas on how you can connect your background with what they offer.
7. How do I find out about the research interests of a university?
Consult the faculty pages of the relevant department to determine what their research interests are. You can also find the school’s most recent publications in their school-specific journal if they have one.
8. How can I edit my letter effectively?
You should create an outline to minimize edits; once you have the first draft, read through the document for grammar and content consistency. You can also ask a qualified professional from college essay review services to revise your letter and provide suggestions.
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