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As I looked through our correspondence, I noted that this was his 26th revision. Is it perfect? No. Is there still room for improvement? Yes. Was it good enough to get him admitted to his chosen program? Yes, he was admitted quickly.
His initial draft was poor. Twenty-six revisions helps tremendously. As you read through his letter, you can see from his credentials and accomplishments that he is very smart. However, even extremely bright people need to think through their letters carefully.
During our correspondence, I emphasized that he needed to be specific. Notice that nothing is vague. There is detail and meaning in almost all sentences. Notice, too, that his letter is confident. I am pleased with the effort and determination he put into his letter, and even more pleased he was accepted to follow his dream.
I hope his letter helps you create your own letter.
I will provide a quick template below.
Opening letter stuff...inside addresses and date
A quick paragraph to say why you are writing. Don't make the reader guess or wade through a lot of text. Just come right out and say why you are writing.
Next, tell the reader about yourself. If you say you're good at certain subjects or activities, show some proof. Actions speak louder than words.What you must not do is blather on with a bunch of impressive adjectives and no proof or support. All that does is prove you have an overactive imagination.
Next, tell the reader why you want to go this particular institution. Most of you blather on about what a great and prestigious university you are applying to. That simply translates into lack of imagination and desparation. Instead, find something honest and truthful you can say. Perhaps it is something as simple as, "upon graduation I plan to work in X industry. I have spoken to two alumni of the university who provided helpful advice." You don't know any alumni? Call the university and ask if they could arrange a meeting for you. Use Google, Facebook, and Linkedin to find them. This university is important to you, right?
Wrap up your letter by summarizing previous points. Sound positive and confident, even if you are not.
Eager Beaver Student
The letter I provided in the previous post is rather long. And it isn't perfect. As you can tell from reading the letter, the student was exceptionally bright. His letter would needed to be exceptionally poor for him to have been rejected. Most students, however, need a good or strong letter.
You will find, for most initial sample letters shown in the forum, my assessment is harsh. That's on purpose. I want you to hate your initial attempt and start over. If I were gentle, you would try to make subtle changes to salvage your letter. Instead, I want you to make a clean break and I want to impress upon you that your current effort is woefully inadequate. Once we have accomplished those two goals, we can begin to make real progress.
While you might be angry, indeed, even really angry, at me because of my assessment, ask yourself: Would you rather know the truth even if it hurts, or would you rather your application be rejected?
Once you pick yourself up off the ground, then look at your letter objectively with emphasis on some of my or others' comments. Start thinking about your letter, starting with a fresh blank page.
Your letter will come together faster and easier than you think. For most students that I help, we go through more than ten iterations. So that means, you can't leave your letter to the last minute. If you do, fail.
I can only recall one student—and she's the best I have helped so far—who cranked out 17 iterations in about four days by email. I have never seen such fierce determination and intelligence before. She's graduated now and is doing extremely well. No surprises.
So don't let this motivational letter stuff drive you nuts. It's a challenge. At the end of the process you will have a strong letter, or at least one that is stronger than you began with, and you will learn something about writing. You are getting a twofer.
prior post . However, it is worthwhile repeating.
For those of you writing letters and essays, you might the following Firefox Add-on helpful.
* After the Deadline
Write with confidence... on the web
checks spelling, misused words, style, and grammar using artificial intelligence and natural language processing.
Now you can use it in your browser. Write better blog comments, tweet with correct grammar, and compose professional messages.
In addition to simple spelling and grammar errors, pay particular attention to the key statistics:
Make sure your document is readable. If it is filled with super big words and long, complex sentences, you'll bore the audience.
On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft
The above link is an Amazon affiliate link to Amazon.com in the U.S. If you choose to order through a different Amazon or store, that's fine. At least you have the title of the book.
If you visit the Amazon U.S. store, you'll see his book is highly rated.
I read his book a while ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. And, because I am participating in English Forums again, I plan to reread the book shortly.
Good writing is much more than simply getting the vocabulary and grammar right, although if the vocabulary and grammar are wrong, nothing else matters. Good writing is about capturing the readers attention and directing the reader's mind to what you want her to focus on. If she has to struggle to comprehend your text, you've lost.
Much of the formal writing is about clearity and conciseness. As a writer, you want to focus on your message. So many beginning writers introduce vague topics and make unsupported claims that their letters fall flat. They fall flat because the reader is asked to infer and believe stuff without evidence or clarity of argument.
So if you are serious about writing, I recommend Stephen King's inexpensive book. It's a wonderful book that will help make you a better writer, and you'll have an enjoyable time reading his book.
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