How to write a motivation letter
Every university requires a personal essay.
Here is a guide to writing one from scratch.
why a motivation letter?
Almost every graduate program requires some sort of an admissions essay in the application. It comes under different names: a letter of introduction, a personal statement, a cover letter, and so on. At Skoltech, this essay is a motivation letter.

In this part of the admissions process universities give their applicants an opportunity to show what's beyond their grades and test scores. After all, every person is more than just a number. Universities want to see their students' sincere interest and motivation to study there. As soon as they admit a new student, they become responsible for supporting and leading them to success.

To start with, let's remember the 1st rule:
there is no 'perfect' motivation letter.
Every applicant's story is unique. The suggestions below will guide you in expressing your personal story even if you're not a seasoned writer. Quick disclaimer: they do not guarantee an admission offer.
let's break it down.
1
step 1
Research the university and the program you are applying for. Make sure you are confident you are a good fit for both of them. Pay very close attention to the university's values, policies, history, faculty, and achievements. This knowledge will help you stand out from the crowd and show your sincere interest in the university. Even if that seems silly, admissions committees do look for this in your letter.
2
step 2
Think about the motive and answer it in one sentence or less. This thesis will be your starting point for writing the rest of the letter. Then elaborate by describing your background, your hobbies and how they relate to the degree you are applying for. Perhaps you changed your views on your education because of an an experience, people who inspired you and valuable advice you received from your mentors. Connect the dots and start writing.
3
step 3
After you've written your first draft, set it aside for a day, breathe. Next, make sure you've answered the prompt and give it a proper readthrough to correct any errors. Ask your friends, family members, and colleagues to look at it. You don't have to make all the changes they suggest, but having someone read your draft with a fresh set of eyes is one of the most effective ways to edit your work.
Your first instict might be to google "Motivation letter template" and use one of the first few examples in the search results. Don't do it! The admissions committee already memorized the most popular templates on the web and will instantly recognize it. Instead, use the structure below to get yourself oriented and take a couple of days to actually think about what you will write. Your honesty and sincerity are valued much higher than a perfectly written text found on the web.
Alexander Safonov
Vice President for Development, Skoltech
what should a motivation letter include?
A motivation letter must start with this header:

Your name
Your address
Current date

[University] Admissions Committee
[University] Admissions Office
University address

Dear [University] Admissions Committee.......


Then proceed to write your motivation letter using the following guidelines:
introduction
An introduction catches your readers' attention with a powerful statement. In one or two sentences, state your name and why you are applying to [university] and [program]. This is your thesis, which you will elaborate on in the next paragraph.
middle
Now elaborate. Start by describing your background, experiences, and interests. What made you decide to pursue a Master's degree? What are your goals now? How will the program help you achieve them? What will you contribute?
conclusion
Address your thesis; express sincere hope and confidence that the university/program you chose is a perfect fit for you. State why you believe you are a perfect fit for it. End on a pleasant and polite note.
Try this small lifehack: imagine you are writing to a specific person, not an abstract admissions commitee. For instance, to write the first part of the letter, imagine you've just met a friend you haven't seen in a long time, and tell him why you decided to apply to the university of your choice. In the second part of the letter, imagine you are talking to a professor you want to work with, and you only have 5 minutes to get his interest.
Denis Stolyarov
Head of Skoltech Student Department
general tips
1
follow the requirements
Check the exact requirements for motivation letters on your university's website. Some organizations may ask for specific questions you won't find in this guide.
2
be original
Do not copy and paste the same letter to all the universities you are applying to. Write an original letter based on what you know about this particular program. Put some effort into it.
3
be simple and concise
A motivation letter should be about 1 page long. This means your writing needs to be concise and to the point. To shorten any text, ask yourself this simple question: "If I delete this word/phrase/sentence, will the meaning of my letter change?" If the answer is "no", delete it.
4
be personal
Know whom you are writing for. The Skoltech Admissions Committee consists of faculty. Do your research before writing to them: read their work, learn about their experience and interests.
5
answer the question
When you finish your first draft, take a break for a day or two; then return to the original prompt and make sure your letter answers it.
6
write properly
Proofread, proofread, proofread. Ask your instructors to give it a read-through. Upload it to Grammarly or the Hemingway App. Use all available resources to make sure your writing is impeccable.
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