Are you Thinking of applying to study at a Swedish university? You’ve got a lot to consider. Should you start learning Swedish? Can you really treat your professors and lecturers as equals? And where are the secret nightlife spots you need to know about?
But wait! Before we come back to any of that, you need to make that all-important application to ensure you get into the university – and the programme – you’ve set your heart on. That’s why this blog is written for Study in Sweden, to bring you seven simple tips for writing a successful application letter. Not all programmes require such a letter – also known as a motivational letter, personal statement or application essay – but for those that do it’s important to get it right.
The thing about first impressions is that, well, you only get one shot at it. That’s as true of an application as it is of a first date. If you really want that university place, don’t make the mistake of being instantly forgettable.
There are hundreds of motivation letters that the admissions team needs to read. Having an interesting introduction will make the reader more interested in the rest of the letter. You need to be creative – I know you are, just show it!
So, ask yourself what makes you stand out – or ask your friends! You don’t need to boast. But you do need to make your best qualities leap off the page!
Do your homework
Think homework is only for school kids? Wrong! Universities want highly motivated students. You need to research the university and the programme you’re applying for and then be specific about what interests you and why.
If you do your homework, you’ll avoid writing the kind of banal sentences those poor admissions officers have seen a million times before.
Instead of saying that the programme offers interesting, relevant courses, try to find out why. Go to the programme’s web page, read the syllabus, and find out who’ll be teaching you and what skills you’ll learn. Then get writing. Explain precisely why your preferred choice is the perfect fit for you – and vice-versa!
Research on Sweden
If you’re applying from outside Sweden, remember to research the country as well! Still wondering about those questions above? Well, learning Swedish can be fun but the locals speak quite fluent English so you’ll be fine without it – plus there are a huge number of programmes taught in English at bachelors and masters level.
International students often find the relationship between professors and students much more informal in Sweden than in most countries.
So, you’ve made a good first impression and done your homework. Well done! There are only a certain number of places, however, and the competition to fill them can be stiff. You’ve still got more to do before you can celebrate clinching your spot. Why do they need to admit you and not other applicants? It’s time to show that you deserve this place!
Keep in mind the ‘show don’t tell’ rule. Don’t put the admissions officer to sleep by telling them you’re ‘hard-working’. Do show them exactly how your hard work turned around a challenging situation – whether in your school studies, a job, or another area of life. Now, you’re taking shape as a real person in their eyes!
Focus on the Future
Going to university is the biggest investment in your future you can make. So, don’t write only about what you’ve already done. You also need to give a clear picture of your future intentions. Making a clear connection between the degree you wish to study and your personal and professional ambitions will ensure you stand out as someone with the energy to pursue your life goals.
Highlight Volunteer Work
This being Sweden, you don’t want to talk only about yourself. If you’ve already done some volunteering or fundraising work, be sure to mention that.
When writing about your future, ask yourself how you’ll use your university education and new skills to benefit other people. Don’t forget society and others. Try to include some details where you show that this particular programme, by being helpful for you and your plans, will in turn be helpful for others.
You’ve heard stories of people exaggerating in applications. Untruths can spiral out of control. Start as you mean to go on – as your authentic self. You’re applying for a coveted university spot because you’re brilliant, right?
If you want to be creative, outstanding, and interesting, you need to be yourself. Nobody else can be you.
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