How to Write a Letter of Intent


A letter of intent should highlight your achievements and connect them to your future goals (photo courtesy of flickr user ‘so lets hang out’).

As prospective students research university programs and admission requirements, one may come across a document not often found in online degree program: a letter of intent. What is a this? And more importantly, how does one write an effective letter of intent?

What is it?

A letter of intent is a personal document that outlines information deemed important for success by the Office of Admissions and the College you are seeking to attend. Written by the applicant, the letter outlines in the student’s own words the personal details found in one’s personality not depicted in grades or test scores.  

What should be included?

 Some schools may outline specifically what a student should discuss and how long the letter needs to be. On the other hand, schools may leave that information entirely up to the applicant. In general, however, the following points should be addressed:

  1. Student Contact Information
    1. Name, mailing address, phone number and email addresses
  2. Summary of previous education
    1. Colleges and universities attended (if any)
    2. Programs studied
  3. Summary of professional experience or community service
    1. Job titles, companies and responsibilities
  4. Discuss why you selected this college or university
    1. What stood out to you?
  5. Describe your interest in the program of study
    1. How it suits your educational goals
  6. Articulate why you would be a successful student
    1. How you can contribute to the school and program of study?
    2. What drives you to graduate from the school?
  7. Any special abilities, personal qualities and/or life experiences you would like to include

How should it be written?

Since the letter is personal, yet still professional, it should be written in the first person.  You are selling yourself to the school in your own words; be articulate, be informative, and be convincing. Refrain from using phrases such as I think, I might or I will try. The letter needs to be written with confidence and clearly address why you’ve selected the school, the program, and why you are an excellent student.  

Be sure you are highlighting your achievements, especially if they pertain to your intended program of study. For example, if you were the starting first baseman for your high school’s varsity baseball team three years in a row, mention how you helped motivate other players while in regional and state tournaments. Or, discuss how the experience sparked your interest in an Athletic Training career. Whatever it may be, remember to highlight achievements and connect them to your future.

Is there anything else?

Writing a letter of intent should not be a stressful admissions process. Just remember to focus on why you want to attend that particular school and degree program. Be honest and be yourself throughout the letter; anything “fake” or “exaggerated” will be obvious. If the school sees that your academics and interests match what they are looking for in a future student, they will notify you.

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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