How to write an application letter for a university

Updated March 23, 2017

When applying to a university, it is important to include an application letter or personal statement to introduce yourself. Each university has its own requirements for application letters, and you must comply with them. Often, a university will ask you to write about your motivation, goals and experience as they relate to higher education. The application letter should reflect your best writing, because it is the first sample of your writing skills the university will see.

Gather your application documents and a list of the university's requirements for application letters.

Create a rough outline of your application letter by writing down the points you want to address and organising them in a logical manner.

Write your letter in the first person; application letters are personal statements, so it is acceptable to use the "I" pronoun.

Include personal stories or anecdotes to make your application memorable. You may want to touch on the obstacles you have overcome to apply to college or a role model who has inspired you to pursue higher education.

Refer to the application-letter prompt you were given by the university. Every paragraph you write should relate to the prompt.

Keep your statement brief and within the word count established by the university.

Proofread your letter or have someone with proofreading skills do so. Make corrections as needed.


Avoid overuse of "I" in your application letter but include it sporadically to personalise the letter.


Exceeding the word count can suggest that you cannot follow directions. Avoid rambling or including empty sentences.

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About the Author

Marissa Willman is a Palm Springs-based travel journalist and content writer. She has been writing professionally since 2007 for such publications as, and Palm Springs Life. Willman is also the local guide for the Palm Springs section of travel website Willman holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from California State University, Fullerton.