College Application Cover Letter: How To Write One
Updated May 27, 2022
Published December 7, 2020
Jamie Birt is a career coach with 5+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.
An illustration of a person with a pen in hand looking over documents.
Some colleges require candidates to submit a cover letter with their application. Therefore, if you're pursuing a postsecondary education, it's important to know how to write a college application cover letter. Having this knowledge can put you at an advantage when you apply, ensuring you meet the college's application requirements.
In this article, we explain what a college application cover letter is, list the steps for writing one and provide you with a template and and an example.
What is a college application cover letter?
A college application cover letter refers to a document that expresses your intent and interest in applying for a collegiate program. Essentially, it lets admissions officers know more about you and gives you an opportunity to emphasize your enthusiasm for attending their school. While admissions officers look at your entire application before giving you an offer of admission, your college application cover letter can improve your chances of admittance.
How to write a college application cover letter
Since many students apply for the same colleges without guaranteed admission, it's important to create a college application cover letter that sets you apart from other applicants and reads favorably to the admissions team. While there's no specific approach to writing a college application cover letter, there are some general steps you can take to help you properly format it. Follow these steps to write an impressive college application cover letter:
1. Write your name and street address
At the top of your cover letter, write your first and last name. On a separate line include your street address, followed by your city, state and zip code on another line.
2. Include the date
Below your contact information, write the date you plan on sending the cover letter. Include the month, the day and the year. For example, "November 20, 2020."
3. Write the head of admission's name, the college's name and the college's address
On a line below the date, write the first and last name of the school's head of admissions. On the next line, include the name of the college. Follow the name with its street address, city, state and zip code.
4. Include a salutation
Open your cover letter with a formal greeting such as "Dear." Follow it with Mr. or Ms. and the last name of the admissions officer and a comma. For example, "Dear Mr. Morrison," followed by a comma.
5. State your purpose for applying to the school
Start with a sentence explaining the reason for your cover letter. In this case, it would be to request admission to the school you're applying for. Make sure to name the school and express your genuine interest in a particular program they offer. Emphasize what their school offers that other universities don't.
6. Explain why you want to attend their school
Below your introduction, write one or two paragraphs that detail your academic and professional career goals and how their school can help you achieve the latter. Express why you feel attending their school offers you the best career path and opportunity for advancement in your chosen profession.
7. Write a conclusion
End your college application cover letter with a strong conclusion. Let admissions officers know that you've included the other requested documents with your application. In addition, let them know that you're available should they have questions or need additional forms and that you're looking forward to hearing from them. It's also important to thank them for their time and for considering your application.
8. Include a sign-off
Below your conclusion, write a sign-off such as "Sincerely," followed by your first and last name.
Tips for writing a college application cover letter
Make sure your college application cover letter makes sense and ultimately presents you and your qualifications in a positive light. Continuously look for ways to improve your letter before submitting your application. Use these tips to help guide your writing:
Research the college. Before you submit your college application cover letter, find out more about the institution you're interested in by looking up its website. Then, use what you learned to craft the perfect cover letter. Highlight how you're a great fit for the college based on the information you learned. For example, maybe their mission statement aligns with what you believe in, or maybe the program you're interested in made recent developments that align with your career goals.
Be concise. Keep your cover letter brief, to the point and a maximum of one-page long. If you need help shortening your cover letter, look for information that you may have repeated in other parts of your cover letter or application.
Be specific. When writing your college admission cover letter, make sure you have a solid reason for wanting to attend their particular institution over other schools. Providing the admissions team with a specific reason as to why you choose their school or university over other programs helps them understand your genuine interest in their school.
Emphasize your uniqueness. As you write your cover letter, highlight your unique abilities and skills to help you stand out among other applicants. Make sure you're confident in your abilities, too.
Proofread your cover letter. Before you submit your application, read through your cover letter and make corrections to any spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. This shows your attention to detail and ensures your cover letter's overall readability.
A college application cover letter follows a similar format to that of a business cover letter. Not only does keeping to a format make your cover letter more legible, but it also presents your qualifications and words in a professional manner. Use this template to help you format your own college application cover letter:
[Your first name] [your last name]
[Your street address]
[City], [state] [zip code]
[First and last name of the head of admissions]
[City], [state] [zip code]
Dear [Mr. or Ms.] [last name of the head of admissions],
This letter is a formal request for admission to [name of college or university]. Over the past few years, I've researched many colleges that offer [type of degree]'s in [field of study], but have ultimately chosen [name of college] because of its commitment to [school's or program's goals, objective or mission]. Unlike other colleges, your program [state what the program is about and how it differs from other college's offering a similar program].
Currently, I'm looking to begin my undergraduate studies. My goal is to complete the [college program] program at [name of college]. Upon graduation, I hope to gain employment as a [job title] where I can [career goals]. I believe [name of college] gives me the best option in preparing for my future endeavors thanks to its [the program or college's unique offerings].
My application form and the requested documents are enclosed. I'm available for additional questions and look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration regarding my application.
[Your first name] [your last name]
When you're ready to write your cover letter, consider what specific information you want to include. If you need help guiding your writing, consider the following college application cover letter example:
5555 Cherry Blossom Way
San Clemente, CA 55555
November 18, 2020
University of Santa Ana
5555 Maple Drive
Santa Ana, CA 55555
Dear Ms. Harvey,
I would like to express my interest in the Journalism program at University of Santa Ana. Over the past few years, I've researched many colleges that offer a bachelor of science degree in journalism, but have ultimately chosen the University of Santa Ana because of its commitment to educating students with a digital-first mindset. Unlike other colleges, your program focuses on the growth of each individual student with a "learn by doing" mentality. Not only that, but the program's efforts have proven successful based on the impressive number of alumni currently in the news media. I would be honored to receive the quality education your institution offers its students, both in the journalism program and beyond.
I'm currently looking to begin my undergraduate studies, with a goal of completing the Journalism program at the University of Santa Ana. Upon graduation, I hope to gain employment as a news reporter where I can share breaking news stories while giving a voice to the voiceless in my community. I believe the University of Santa Ana can provide me with the best opportunity to pursue these endeavors.
My application form and the requested documents are enclosed. I'm available for additional questions and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration regarding my application.
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