Most universities in Estonia require a motivation letter as part of your study application. In some ways it might be one of the most important aspects, because it provides a glimpse of who you are as a person and what your hopes and expectations are regarding studying in Estonia. So here are 3 main things to keep in mind when writing your motivation letter! PS – these same tips can also be used when applying for a job!
Writing a good motivation letter may be challenging, but we're here to help! Photo: Ivan Samkov
1. Personalise and customise
The motivation letter is your first chance at showing your personality and making sure you stand out. You want the university representatives to read it and feel like they know you a little bit. You also want them to feel like this letter is meant specifically for them. So even though you may be applying to several different universities or programmes, make sure you customise the motivation letter each time.
Make sure your personality comes through in the motivation letter. Source: Giphy.com
Include specific details about the programme that interests you - this shows you’ve done your research and are passionate about the field. Tie those details to your strengths and weaknesses to illustrate why you are right for this programme. Don’t be afraid to address your weaknesses, studying at university is all about growing and if you can show how this specific university/programme can help you improve then that is a great example of your motivation.
2. Include a view of the past and the future
If you've already had some experience working or volunteering in a field connected to your chosen study programme, then make sure to highlight that. This goes a long way to proving your motivation. Even if you haven't yet had any practical experience, try to emphasise specific things that explain your interest in the study programme (for example, you've read many books on the topic; you've had someone close to you enter a similar career; etc.)
Just as important is your vision for your future and the expectations you have for the programme. For example, what are you hoping to get out of this study programme, and how do you see it helping you in your future career? If, for instance, you are looking to make a career in Cyber Security and have read that Estonia is very strong in the digital field, then include the fact that you hope to not only learn from the study programme, but also develop your skills by working in the sector after graduation.
Your motivation letter should include a view of the future. Photo: Julia M Cameron
3. Simplicity and spell check
First impressions matter. This may seem like obvious advice, but grammar and sentence structure still often get overlooked, even though that is the first thing the reader will notice. You may be tempted to use long sentences and complicated words to impress. Mostly, this has the opposite effect. The text will be harder to read and you might even lose the original meaning. Use simple and concise language. Don't include information that isn't relevant just to make the letter longer.
Spell check is your friend, so use it! Remember, if you are starting studies in English then you are expected to have a certain level of language proficiency. If your motivation letter is full of grammatical errors and the sentences don’t make sense then that will not send a good signal to the university. You can use the built-in spell check functionality of your computer or try something like Grammarly.
Avoid grammar mistakes in your motivation letter by using a spell check. Photo: Katelyn
If you follow these 3 tips then you will likely end up with a pretty good motivation letter 😊 However, we recommend also checking out the requirements section of your chosen study programme in the admissions portal estonia.dreamapply.com. Some universities add specific points that they expect you to cover in a motivation letter.
You can also check out this blog post by Nkajima if you want some more tips on writing and submitting your application.