If you’re applying to study abroad, many programs require that you write a letter of intent– a one-page essay that introduces who you are, why you want to study abroad, and how you will enhance your future plans by studying abroad.
For more competitive study abroad programs, the letter of intent is an integral part of your application. It gives the selection committee a chance to see who you are as a student and a person. Sometimes, a well-written letter of intent will separate who gets accepted and who doesn’t.
To write a good letter of intent, you need to know the purpose of your letter and the audience you’re writing to. With those two important ideas in mind, you’re essentially writing a business letter. Here are some tips on how to begin writing your letter of intent.
- Be direct. Don’t begin with a long-winded, confusing intro. Introduce yourself and state what you are applying for. Include the most important information in the beginning, however obvious it seems.
- Organize your thoughts. The person reading your letter does not want to read a giant wall of unformatted text. Break up your letter into 3-5 small paragraphs. Each paragraph should begin with a strong topic sentence that encapsulates the rest of the paragraph. Address each question directly.
- Show your personality. Give the reader a sense of who you are. Provide specific (yet relevant) details about your life, include an anecdote if appropriate, and be honest about why you want to study abroad. If you’re passionate about travel, for example, tell them.
- Write well. Follow the principles of good, effective writing. Eliminate any grammatical errors, favour the active voice over the passive, and use concrete and specific language. If you enjoy waxing poetic, try to keep it to a minimum.
- Keep it short. Many letters of intent are restricted to one page in length. The reader’s time is valuable, so only state the important things. The more concise you are, the better. Unless told otherwise, keep your letter between 300-500 words.
These letters are important, so don’t be afraid to write several drafts, or seek help from a trusted friend or professor. To give you an idea of what a letter of intent looks like, I’ve provided an example: the letter of intent that I wrote for my international exchange.
Dear Members of the Selection Committee:
My name is Abroad Guide and my dream is to travel abroad as part of a study exchange. A proud Vike, I’m very excited about the opportunity to study abroad with UVic and broaden my own horizons. I am applying to study in Spain and particularly interested in attending the University of Alcala next fall. I believe that as a driven learner, cultural sponge and adventurous spirit, I am an ideal exchange student and perfect for this program.
Travel has always been a part of my life. I remember moving to the Dominican Republic when I was ten. It was an enormous change compared to my hometown in Florida. I was eating things I had never heard of, and I learned that electricity and running water are luxuries for most. During that time, I was introduced to the Spanish language and my love for my Hispanic roots. Studying in Spain—the birthplace of Latin American culture—would help me further explore my heritage.
Studying abroad would give me a chance to continue my studies while experiencing a different culture. While studying English and Professional Writing here at UVic, I used my electives to study Spanish and Hispanic culture. My personal curiosity developed into a scholarly interest, and I have now declared for the Certificate of Spanish Language and Cultural Proficiency. I’m confident that a semester en España would enhance my studies in this field.
The University of Alcala offers the academic and cultural experience that I desire. It offers courses taught in English, along with Spanish classes for non-native speakers. Roughly the size of UVic, the University of Alcala is one of the top schools in the Spanish-speaking world. Located in the hometown of writer Miguel de Cervantes, the school has a rich tradition in humanities and a main campus that dates back to the sixteenth century. It would be a privilege to attend such a world-class institution on behalf of UVic.
As an English student, I have learned that literature plays many roles in our lives. Opening a book is like opening a door into another world full of characters, ideas and perspectives that are otherwise unreachable. I believe that traveling does the same thing. The last four years at UVic have enriched my life with experiences I’ll never forget. With only a few short semesters left here at UVic, my experience as an undergraduate is coming to a close. But I have applied to go on exchange because I think there’s time for one last adventure.
letter of intention, study abroad, study abroad tips, writing, writing tips
Milano Street, 55
To whom it may concern,
I am Giancarlo Moretto, student of Pharmaceutical Faculty in Rome at the University of Rome. With this letter I would like to express my strong interest for participation at your Student Exchange Programme in the summer of 2013. As a suture graduate, I plan to build an international career in the field of pharmacy in the EU, so this programme will really mean a lot for my professional aspirations. Capability to handle problems, social balance and the necessity to gain an international experience outside my University make me a proper candidate for this position.
I have done an internship for about two months at a local pharmacy in Rome. During that placement, I have mastered skills like: computer proficiency in pharmaceutical software, how to make the reception of medicaments and register them in the database. Working with people has broadened my communication talent and I learnt how to handle different characters in very short time. Furthermore I assisted the senior pharmacists to prepare and extract remedies, crèmes and potions. With my experience in creating computer applications and English proficiency I was able to adjust to the work in a very short time. I believe that my working experience in combination with my studies make my candidateship for your programme possible.
During my studies, I have been a student representative. I was chosen at the Faculty’s elections for three years in a row. My responsibilities, as a representative included: organizing term exams, social gathering and sport events; representation of my Faculty at the students Senate and facilitation management. Those assignments enabled me to develop strong organization skills and to become responsible young individual, taking into account the needs of my colleges. Also, as a student of University of Rome I discovered the usefulness of team work, especially in laboratory conditions. I advocate the opinion that my team working experience is essential in a community pharmacy and in the area of research also. Only with quality team work great achievement can be richen, and I am have a strong will to pursuit that goal.
Thank you very much in advanced for this opportunity and for considering my application. Considering my experience and skills I believe that your programme will benefit a lot from my presence and it will enhance my future career in the field of pharmacy. I am convinced that I will find a place in all the activities anticipated by your University and I will do my best to adjust to your facilities and courses. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.