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Tips on how to write a good motivation letter or personal statement





If you are seeking to pursue further studies after your undergraduate program then this post is much of your interest. Whether you are seeking admission into a university, scholarship or even an academic job you will need to know how to write a clean motivation letter or a personal statement and this happens to be one of the very many challenges young graduates face nowadays.

For many around the world, that stage is usually attained early in the educational ladder but for most if not all African students, many starts thinking about what they want to become, when, how and why at the university level.

This has often been challenged especially when putting this into a rigorous statement of purpose to grab the opportunity to fulfill their dreams in life.

This is what this article is all about; bringing out all the tricks in writing a good motivation letter and/or personal statement when applying to a graduate school or graduate scholarship.

There are many ways of writing an official personal statement but keep in mind that in everything there is a standard. Many agencies around the web provide good guides on how to write captivating personal statements but I took a keen interest in that provided by Yale College Writing Center.To begin, the very first thing to do when writing a personal statement/motivation letter is to:

    • Carry out enough research as to the graduate program, department or school you which to apply startso take up a particular program. Talk to one or two graduates from the department or school and professors, read articles from a journal related to the program or scholarship.
    • Secondly, demonstrate your intellectual passion for the field; what thrills you about the research you’ve done or you would like to do? Provide concrete examples of your skills, interests, and previous research in the field, and how they might inform the research you would like to pursue in your graduate studies. Show that you are familiar with the procedures and expectations of scholarship and professional training in your field and that you have the character, qualities, and experience to thrive. Use the professional language of the field to describe your scholarly interests.




  • Make sure you avoid cliché statements like, “I’ve always wanted to help people,”  “I have always loved reading novels,” etc., are both overused and uninteresting to graduate admissions committees. Using vague, clichéd phrases to explain your interest in the field undermines the seriousness and professionalism of the scholarly endeavor.
  • Instead, try to provide a specific anecdote that illustrates what sparked and sustains your passion. Personal statements can have moments of humor that reflect your character/personality, but the primary purpose isn’t  to show how clever you are in composing the essay;  it’s to present yourself as an interesting and potentially inspiring future colleague.

Use the first paragraph to tell a narrative that illustrates your intellectual passion and personal commitment to the field. Use the middle section of your essay to focus on your intellectual experience with the field and your goals for future research.

Conclude with why you would excel in your studies, especially at the particular institution to which you are applying.

  • After writing an initial draft, set up an appointment with a College Writing Tutor to discuss the content and organization of the draft. Revise the draft and then arrange a meeting with a professor/mentor in the field to look over your statement and offer suggestions. Revise your draft again and meet with a College Writing Tutor to polish the essay in terms of structure, style, and grammar.
  • Finally, tailor each statement to the question asked by each graduate school. Tailor each statement to reflect your knowledge of that particular program and professors.

Culled from Yale College: www.yale.edu/writing


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1 Comment

  1. PLATINI NKEH

    Thanks @africaninfolook. Keep it up

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