9876 Smith St.
Stillwater, OK 74074
The Scholarship Committee
123 Learning Rd. Suite 4A
Oklahoma City, OK 73127
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Owlie McScholar and I am a third year student at Oklahoma State University. I am currently pursuing a five-year Bachelor of Architecture Degree, and I plan to follow up with a one-year master’s degree after I graduate.
While in high school, I worked extensively with my local Habitat for Humanity branch to help build homes for low income families. I learned about the construction process from the ground up, and I discovered the importance of function in architectural design. The homes we built during my four years as a volunteer were never extravagant, but they served their purpose and became a beacon of hope for their owners.
My education is largely focused on this mindset: function over form, stability over showmanship. I have enrolled in several classes that crossover to the Architectural Engineering major because I want to have a comprehensive view of how design meets structure. I have worked on three extra-credit residential design projects under the supervision of my architecture professors (Dr. X and Dr. Y) to accelerate my research and education.
I wanted to become an architect to create accessible, affordable housing opportunities in underprivileged communities. Living in a college town, I have seen countless rental properties available, but there are few homes for sale that are priced affordably enough for college students and first-time buyers. This is the case in many towns throughout America, especially areas with a low standard of living. My goal is to build neighborhoods of sufficient starter homes that can help adults build equity, avoid excessive debt, and create financial stability for their futures.
I have an internship scheduled with LMNOP Architectural Firm in the summer, and I will continue my on-the-job training there after my master’s degree. After working under acclaimed residential architects Suzan Craft and Peter Wood, I would like to open my own architectural firm focused on developing inexpensive, high-quality housing. Also, I would like to work with Habitat for Humanity again, this time as an architect instead of a general laborer. I believe firmly in their mission to build “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”
I appreciate your consideration. With your assistance, I can continue my schooling in architecture and design to bring accessible homes to those in need.
The motivation letter is a crucial part of your application. Below are some useful tips and guidelines for writing a successful scholarship application letter. They involve the process you go through before writing the letter, what to consider when writing, and the crucial process of checking your work.
Brainstorming: Why should you get the scholarship rather than someone else?
Generally, there are two important questions you need to answer: why you, and why this scholarship? It is a good idea to have a brainstorm before you start writing. Spider diagrams are great for this, as you can put the main topic in the middle and jot down supporting details and arguments as you go along. After this is done to the best of your ability, it helps to take those ideas and formulate them into an outline for your essay. Don’t forget to check the scholarship website (in particular their mission) while you are doing this to make sure you know what they expect from you. It is always a good idea to use family and friends as sounding boards. You should also think about mentioning your extracurricular activities and strong personality traits when deciding on what to mention in your letter.
Writing: Be concise. Stay on topic.
When writing the letter, make sure that you stay on topic! Do not get caught up in the points you are trying to make, so you do not give the reader a definitive answer at the end. Also be aware that most questions are not as straightforward as they seem and may have an underlying meaning. When you are answering a question on why you want to study in a particular field, keep in mind that the reader really wants to know why you would be the best candidate and what you would do if you got the scholarship.
You also need to make sure that your body paragraphs relate to your introduction, because the introduction is what gives people an idea of what it is they should be expecting to read. Remember to be specific! You know what it is you are trying to say, but the reader doesn’t know you or the way you think. While you should include any details that are relevant, you should avoid making your letter too long. Make sure your points are comprehensive, concise and clear.
Tonality is the key! Personal yet professional
You must also be aware of the tone you are writing in. Yes, the letter is about you, but it is for a professional audience. It may help to think of who will be reading your letter and to write it as if you are addressing someone you have recently met, someone you respect, and someone you want to share your story with. Remember that the person reading your letter does not know you! This may help you to identify an audience.
What helps: Be genuine and positive
It really helps to be original when writing. Remember that you are up against a lot of other applicants for the same scholarship and originality will help you stand out. Be genuine about what you are writing and make the reader feel your personality. It may help to share a bit of your life that is relevant, as this makes the letter a bit more personal. You can give examples of where you have demonstrated relevant skills or personality traits. When bringing in personal examples, you will want to avoid the sob stories. Scholarship committees are not interested in how hard your life has been, but rather how you have overcome the challenges that you have been faced with, and what you have accomplished despite them. Make sure the reader gets a sense of your positive attitude towards life. Enthusiasm is what makes organisations excited about giving you money to pursue your passion and possibly changing the world while doing so.
Checking your work: Proofreading is not just a spell-check!
The more people that you can ask to proofread your letter the better. They make pick up on little mistakes as well as giving you fresh ideas. Be aware that spell check is good, but it doesn’t catch every mistake. Ask the people reading your letter if they believe every sentence is crucial to the letter, as this should be the case. It may also be in your best interest to ask them if the topic of your letter was clear, if there are any visible clichés, what the worst part of the letter was and if they think anyone else could have written a letter just like yours. If they answer the last question with a yes, then you are missing your personality and that is a major part of a successful scholarship letter.
Revision: Give yourself a couple of days and then check again
Revision should be done carefully. You are only allowed a certain amount of words, so you want to use them wisely. Make sure you delete anything that does not relate to your main argument. Consider reordering your supporting details, and make the broader implications of your experiences clear. Important arguments need to be at the foreground of the letter. It might help to put your letter aside for some days and then check it again.
Need more info on what you need for your scholarship application? Check out our article what do I need for a scholarship application