The Proper Way to Write a College Letter

Carefully proofread a college letter before submitting it to avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes.
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When applying to a college, you may be required to write a formal college cover letter. This letter should be professionally written and highlight your strengths, motivation and qualifications for the school or program. To write the letter successfully, spend some time researching the institution to which you are applying.

1 Format

The heading, which should be placed at the top right of the letter, should include your first and last name, mailing address, email address and telephone numbers. If you have a website that is relevant to the college or program, you can include this in the heading as well. For example, if you are applying to a fashion school and you have a fashion blog, you should mention it. Start the letter with a salutation, such as "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sir/Madam." If you know the recipient's name, you can address them directly as "Dear Mr./Ms. (name)." The letter should close with a statement thanking the reader, such as "Thank you for taking the time to consider my application."

2 Introduction

The first paragraph of the letter should clearly state why you are writing a letter to the school. Research the school or organization through their website and news articles to cite specific reasons you are attracted to the institution. This shows preparedness on your part and an eagerness to join their program. Additionally, according to Green River Community College, "A little research may help keep you from making a mistake," such as assuming a school offers a program that they don't in fact offer.

3 Body

The college cover letter shouldn't just repeat the content of your resumé. This part, according to Rollins College, should show why you want to work or study in the field and should draw attention to one or two of your relevant accomplishments. Don't include any information that doesn't directly support your candidacy. Thomas College notes that you should write only the essential information and avoid getting caught up in the details of a story or narrative. If you are recounting an anecdote, keep it brief and only relay the part that highlights your inspiration and strengths.

4 Tone

The proper tone of a college cover letter should be professional and academic. The tone of your letter is representative of your behavior and attitude in person. A senior member of the institution will likely read it, so you want to show that you take the opportunity seriously. A college cover letter is generally not the place to be humorous. While being formal, it is also important to be yourself; don't unnecessarily cram in the most sophisticated words you know -- that only makes the text hard to read. Have someone read the letter before you submit it to verify whether the tone is professional throughout.

Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.