What Are Good Topics to Cover in My College Application Letter?

The quality of a college application letter can be influential in a university's decision to admit or deny an applicant. All other factors being equal, the college application letter can differentiate one applicant from the rest. Read below for information regarding some good topics to cover in a college application letter.

Writing a College Application Letter

Most universities require students to submit a college application letter as part of their application. These letters or essays offer you the chance to describe your background, experiences, and goals. There are certain topics that you may want to cover in order to communicate this information effectively.

Important Facts About College Application Letters

Purpose Highlight personal characteristics
Demonstrate college readiness
Demonstrate interest in the school or program
Prompts May or may not have specific prompts
Length May have minimum page length or word count
May have maximum page length or word count
Audience Admissions counselors
Point of View Usually first person, unless the prompt indicates otherwise

Educational Background

Your educational background is a critical part of your college application letter because it can indicate your college readiness. Students who have succeeded in challenging classes are more likely to do well in college, and admission counselors seek to admit students who will contribute positively to the academic environment at the school. Therefore, if you were enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses or other advanced classes, you may want to discuss your experiences. Even if you didn't get a top grade in a tough course, you may want to highlight your willingness to challenge yourself and discuss how the difficult class shaped you as a student and a thinker.

Academic Interests

If you are applying to a particular academic program, it can help to explain you want to study the subject or pursue a career in the field. For instance, applicants to nursing programs may express their desire to provide care for others, while those applying to engineering schools may discuss their interest in advancing technology or improving infrastructure. It is important to note that not all colleges require students to pick a major or career path before they decide to attend a school. If you're applying to a liberal arts program and are not sure what you want to do in the future, you may want to discuss your broad interests in order to highlight your open-mindedness and demonstrate your excitement to explore your academic and career options while in college.

Interest in the College

Depending on the prompt, you may want to describe why you are interested in the particular college to which you are applying. For instance, if the school offers a unique academic program you are interested in, you can describe why you are passionate about the subject and how you will take advantage of the academic resources available at the school. Another way to show that you are particularly excited about a school is to discuss a positive campus visit experience that convinced you that you want to attend.

Extracurricular Activities

Another topic to discuss in your college application letter is extracurricular activities. These can include athletics, involvement in the arts, participation in school clubs and scouts organizations, and volunteer and community service experiences. Admissions counselors want to know about your extracurricular experiences so that they can better understand what you're like outside of the classroom. You can also use a discussion of your extracurricular activities to highlight personal characteristics, such as dedication, team spirit, and leadership abilities. In addition, extracurricular activities may demonstrate your preparedness for a particular degree; for instance, discussing volunteer experience in a hospital or clinic is particularly relevant if you are applying to a nursing program.

Work Experience

Not all students have the chance to participate in extracurricular activities because they need to work outside of school. If you have held after-school or summer jobs, you may want to discuss these experiences in order to highlight qualities like maturity, responsibility, and professionalism. If you worked in a position related to the college program you are applying for, it can be especially beneficial to discuss how your job shaped your future goals.

Personal Anecdotes

Including personal stories can help a candidate stand out within the applicant pool. You may want to include a story in the introduction in order to hook your reader and lead in to more substantive discussions about academic experience and future goals. Alternatively, they can be used within the body of the application; for instance, when discussing extracurricular activities, a student-athlete might discuss how they overcame an injury and achieved success in their sport. These kinds of stories can make an application more memorable.

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