How to Write a Letter for Applying to High Schools

How to Write a Letter for Applying to High Schools

When it comes to public high schools, enrollment is often just a matter of having an address within a designated school zone. However, for private or prep schools, applying for enrollment is an entirely different matter. Enrollment depends upon test scores, letters of recommendation, application essays and a glowing letter to the admissions officials. The letter to the schools' boards or admissions departments generally requires that you explain why you wish to attend a particular school. Writing a good letter is crucial for a winning application.

Create the standard business letter format. Type your address in three or four lines at the top left corner of the page. Skip a line and type the date. Skip another line and type the full name of the board and the address of its headquarters in three or four lines.

Skip a line and write "Dear" plus the name of the chairman or director of the board. Skip another line and begin your first paragraph without indenting.

Identify yourself with your full name, explain that you are an applicant to a specific school or schools within the board's responsibility.

State your strongest reason for wanting to attend these particular schools. Be specific, stating programs, classes or activities that these schools offer that directly connect to talents or hobbies that you have or things you're interested in. For example, if a particular school has a strong classics department and you're interested in learning ancient Greek, mention that. Go through all these reasons in two to three paragraphs.

State what you will bring to the school. You want to avoid cliches like saying you're hardworking or highly motivated. Rather, you need to find new ways to express the positive aspects of your character without sounding like every other applicant. For example, if you are in fact hardworking, say something to the effect of, "I believe in conducting a thorough study, often completing more work or reading assignments than what the teacher assigns."

Close your essay with a quote from a famous leader, author or historian that addresses education. For example, Nelson Mandela's quote that "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" is suitable or something comparable.

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Before you send your letter, make sure and proofread it carefully. Go over it a few times, paying special attention to grammar, tone and the general flow. You want to make sure the letter reads well and gives a glimpse into who you are. Once you're done proofing and editing it yourself, choose a teacher or other school staff member that knows you well, and ask them to look it over. If possible, avoid asking a parent or friend to read it. They may be reluctant to give you honest feedback or try to convince you to add things that don't need to be in the letter.

When the letter is ready to send, make sure you have the correct name and address of who to send it to. More than likely, you will be sending it to the Dean of Students, school counselor or main office. It's also a good idea to find out if the school prefers you to email or postal mail the letter.

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."