The Power of a Motivation Letter
To all the applicants out there, do not underestimate the role that a motivation letter plays in the application process!
It may seem to most students that the determining factor of your admission or rejection are your grades and CGPA, and hence the most crucial documents are the bachelor’s degree and transcripts.
In reality, the verdict largely depends on the contents of your motivation letter. (and your CV, which I will talk about next week)
In the past year, I have applied to five German graduate schools. I got rejected by the first four and accepted by the last one (Hochschule Offenburg’s CME master program voted by DAAD as one of Germany’s top 10 master programs). To all five universities, I submitted the very same transcript that had the exact same grades, but the only difference between the first four universities and the last one was the motivation letter and CV I had sent in.
At first, I thought the motivation letter was just an extra piece of document and the selection committee really just focused on your grades. So, I did not think I needed to spend so much effort writing one up. I whipped up a very generic letter in a week or two’s time, that included details which could already be found in my transcript and CV, and stated the obvious i.e. I want to pursue higher education in Germany because it one of the world’s most reputable and well-known countries for it’s higher educational institutions. Later, I realized, when the selection committee reads a motivation letter like this, you are giving them every reason not to choose you because you have not proved to them why you are suitable for the program. Yes, you might have acceptable grades, but in the end they are just average or above average grades, and not sky-rocketing scores, which is why the motivation letter is so important, because from a well-written letter, you show the selection committee your goals and dreams and how you aspire to achieve them; you show them where you come from, what you are capable of and how studying at the university can take all of what you have and know one step further; you show them how you and the program are a perfect fit and how you can mutually benefit from each other. When you show them that, like I did in my final motivation letter, which I spent two-and-a-half months editing and perfecting, you give them a reason to consider your application, as they see in your letter what they expect from a potential future student of the university.
So, instead of writing something like “I want to pursue higher education in Germany because it one of the world’s most reputable and well-known countries for it’s higher educational institutions”, continue the sentence with reasons how this will benefit you and your future career i.e. you can learn more advanced academic and scientific knowledge; gain good practical experience; get international exposure; widen your horizons which will enable you to think out of the box, etc. Show the selection committee you know what you are looking for and you know what you want to do with it.