How to Write a Letter of Intent in Academia

howtowritealetterofintentGetting accepted into a university’s undergraduate or graduate program can be a long, cumbersome process. You might have spent considerable time preparing to fill out applications and take standardized tests to gain acceptance. Before you apply to a university, though, you need to write a letter of intent to show interest in prospective programs. Writing a letter of intent might seem difficult; however, the process of completing this document is relatively straightforward. You can learn more about applying to college through the College Application Essay course.

**Learn how to perfect studying to succeed in college once you have been accepted**

1. Do Your Homework.

Before you begin to write your letter of intent, you should find out the name and address of the appropriate recipient. A letter greeting such as “To Whom it May Concern” is impersonal and won’t likely get you very far with the university’s decision-makers. Taking the time to identify the appropriate person’s name and title will show her that you are capable of basic research, which can help put you ahead of other applicants. If you can’t identify the proper recipient via the university’s website, make a quick phone call to find out to whom your letter of intent should be addressed. Your reward for this small amount of work can be enormous.

2. Use the Opening Paragraph as an Introduction.

Because the primary purpose of a letter of intent is to sell yourself to the university’s decision makers, you need to get to the point quickly. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to use your opening paragraph as an introduction. State your current academic level and note any academic awards you have received. If you are writing the letter of intent to a specific department head, make sure to note your achievements in that person’s particular field of study. Also, state the purpose of your letter of intent — typically, the purpose is to express interest in applying to the university or a specific academic program.

3. Establish Your Interest

If you stated in the introduction that you are interested in the university or an academic program, you do not need to repeat this statement in the body of the letter. Instead, the body should detail why you are interested in the program. It might include how you found out about the program, as well as what made you want to choose that specific university over competing institutions. Remember, concrete details will help you connect with the recipient. As with an employment cover letter, including specific information in a letter of intent can help you stand out from the crowd. If you need to brush up on your writing skills, take the free Becoming a Writer course.

4. Include a Call to Action

Much like a sales letter, a letter of intent should include a strong call to action. A “call to action” is a sentence or phrase that directs the reader to take a specific action. In a letter of intent, that action is to contact you to set up an interview or provide you with a department tour. Don’t be shy about asking the reader to take action.

Writing a strong letter of intent can help make you more visible in the eyes of academic decision makers, which can dramatically increase your chance of admission. If it results in an interview or tour, it also gives you the chance to learn more about the program and make an educated decision about your academic future.

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