How to Write a Motivation Letter for a High School Application
There is no doubt of the importance of a good education. In fact, the importance of a good education is so indisputable that the ability to get into a good school is not only becoming more and more competitive, but that competition is starting at a younger and younger age. Today, even preschools have waiting lists so long that many parents will put their children on a number of different waiting lists before they are even born. Although it is still questioned just how much a good preschool or elementary education impacts collegiate opportunities, no question that attending a premiere high school will significantly impact those opportunities. These applications can be very competitive. Use a motivation letter for high school applications to help show the admissions committee your passion for and interest in their school.
In today’s competitive educational marketplace, however, simply having the means or resources to attend a prestigious school does not automatically guarantee admittance. Even having a prestigious name or friends in high places will not always secure a position in some of the most elite schools. Similarly, many schools are far more egalitarian these days, which means a lack of prestigious contacts may not bar you from admittance.
This is why writing a motivation letter for a high school application is perhaps more important than ever. In today’s academia, having the right parents doesn’t carry as much sway as having the right motivations. Many of the top high schools are perhaps more committed than ever to building a diverse student body. In many cases, they care more about the student’s potential than the parents’ wealth or status. In fact, parents often want a child admitted into a certain school far more than the student themselves, which is why a motivation letter can be so valuable. A good motivation letter for high school can communicate a student’s passion for attending, which will often carry far more weight than a parent’s desire. Here are some tips for writing a great motivation letter for a high school application that will help you stand out.
1. Let them know what you feel you can gain from education from their institution
Applying to a good high school is similar to applying for a good job at a prestigious company. Just like good companies, good schools know what they have to offer and they want to make sure that the applicants they choose genuinely want to be there. The difference between a good school and a good company, however, is that most applicants that apply for a job at a good company do so because they genuinely want to work there, not because their parents want them to work there. To that end, it is important for the student to communicate in their motivation letter what their personal motivations are for wanting to attend the school.
While the most obvious answer might be to pave the way to getting into a good college, that doesn’t really communicate a strong desire to attend that specific school. Prestigious high schools are well aware of the power their name carries. They are generally looking for students who are interested in more than just being able to drop the name of their school on a college application. They are looking for students who genuinely desire what that school specifically has to offer, similar to the way in which companies are not looking for employees that simply want a job anywhere, they are looking for employees who genuinely desire to work for their company specifically.
To that end, the more you can show that you know what that school has to offer, the better your chances are of getting accepted. For instance, if you are a chess enthusiast and the school has an excellent competitive chess team, that is a good thing to mention in your letter. If you are avidly interested in science and the school employs a prestigious science teacher, that is also a good thing to mention in your letter. There is also nothing wrong with mentioning how excited you might be to attend the same school as your father, mother, grandfather, grandmother or any other relatives or close family acquaintances. Having relatives or family friends who attended the school is not a bad thing and when mentioned in the right context can be a plus, but it is unwise to name drop in a way that suggests it a student should be entitled to attend the school simply because their relatives or acquaintances did.
Like most relationships, the relationship between a student and the school they attend should be a give-and-take. Elite schools obviously have a superior education to offer, which they also know they can only offer to a relatively small number of students. This means they are generally looking for the students they feel can best benefit from the specific educational opportunities they offer. It is both perfectly acceptable and important to share what you feel you bring to the table but it is also important to do so in such a way as to not imply that any school should be honored to have you attend.
It is important to share any special skills, accomplishments or achievements in such a way as to communicate that you hope the school can help you capitalize on those achievements and further develop those skills rather than presenting them in such a way as to imply that you are highly accomplished as you are and need no further growth. That would, in essence, completely defeat the purpose of attending an elite school in the first place. While is it important not to humblebrag, there is also great value in learning how to communicate your accomplishments or achievements very humbly.
It is patently untrue that wealth, position or status are infallible barriers to struggle or hardship. Even the wealthiest and most privileged children face hardships such as medical issues or the death of a loved one and for children who are not wealthy or privileged, the list of hardships they have endured or overcome can be even longer. Many schools are looking for more than simply academic excellence or achievement. Slots in many elite schools are highly coveted, which means the competition is fierce and it doesn’t end once a child is admitted. This means that many elite schools are looking for more than academic excellence or a good pedigree, they are looking for signs of inner fortitude or that a young person has what it takes to undergo the rigors of education at their school.
The administration of most elite schools knows full well the challenges inherent in simply attending an elite school. Showing a level of perseverance can also demonstrate an ability to stick it out through the hard times, which will inevitably come at some point in time during a student’s tenure at almost any school. That being said, it is also important to shy away from over-dramatizing any struggles or challenges. Doing so is a form of manipulation and administrators who read dozens, if not hundreds of such letters every year are unlikely to be moved by a blatant attempt to gain a sympathy vote.
4. Write about what you are passionate about
There is probably nothing that educators love more than passionate and eager students. While passions may change over the years, almost all children develop a strong passion for something at an early age. In many cases, that passion actually leads to what they eventually do as a career. Whether you love dinosaurs, dragons, dance or drama; music, magic, mathematics or making mosaics, your passions will almost certainly guide your eventual career goals in some way. Even if you aren’t sure what you want to do for a career yet, looking at what you are passionate about is a good place to start looking for that path.
Some students may already know exactly the career path they want to follow, which can also be good information to communicate. For others that aren’t as certain, simply letting schools know what you are passionate about can actually get them excited about helping you find that path. When writing a motivation letter for a high school application, one of the very best things you can do is get people excited about wanting to help you. Giving them some idea of what you are trying to achieve or accomplish may be the best way to do just that. But first, you must know what you hope to achieve or accomplish.
Strike A Balance
When it comes to writing a motivation letter for a high school application, it is important to strike a careful balance. Of course, you want to be motivating but you also want to be careful to not go so far as to use manipulative or emotional strong-arm tactics. While you want to be persuasive, there is a fine line between persuasion and manipulation. It is far better to simply stick to the facts than also to try and communicate how you want readers to interpret those facts. Here are some examples of what to do and not do to strike that perfect balance.
- Do let them know what you appreciate about their institution in a way that lets them know you have done your homework and know what that institution specifically has to offer
- Don’t be so overly effusive that you come across as a suck-up. People appreciate being appreciated but no one likes a sycophant.
- Do let them know about any relatives or acquaintances you may have that have attended school there and what types of things they have said about the school or the experiences they had there that make you want to attend as well.
- Don’t simply bring up important people’s names or their relationship to you to make yourself seem very important and, therefore a valuable asset to the school.
- Do be honest about a few traits, skills or qualities you feel you have to offer to their scholastic community.
- Don’t go on and on about how great you are, creating the impression they are lucky to have you.
- Do share some of your challenges and how you overcame them. Be honest and real about them. Some struggles may not seem as great as others but just be honest and real and let the reader be the judge.
- Don’t communicate your experiences as if they were some kind of Greek tragedy. Some young people have, in fact, already experienced tremendous hardship in their young lives. If that is you, be honest and let the facts speak for themselves. Remember, the goal is to simply communicate the reality of your life, not emotionally manipulate the reader.
- Do write about what you are passionate about, regardless of what that may be. Human beings are known to get excited about helping people who are excited to accomplish their goals and achieve their dreams. There may be no greater way to motivate people than to share with them where you want to go or what you want to do and ask for their help in getting there.
- Do not ever simply make something up because you either don’t know what you want to do or don’t think that what you want to do is very impressive. Whatever your goals, dreams or passions are, simply be honest about them. People might surprise you.
When you write a motivation letter for high school, you want to show why they should just be you instead of another candidate. There are often more applicants than positions and the student needs to stand out. While the parent can help the student, a student-written letter is often more powerful and more passionate. A good motivation letter for high school can set a great student up for an amazing education and more opportunities down the road. This all starts with a great motivation letter as part of their application.
Other Resources to Help With Your Motivation Letter for a High School Application
We have written this guide to help you write your own letter or your child’s letter. Sometimes, we get asked for more help from our readers. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources for that, but we want to give you any help we can.
The best resource we have found for such help is looking on Fiverr to hire a freelancer to help you. Fiverr is a marketplace where you can hire someone for a specific project. They offer different projects at set prices that you can hire them for. This link will take you to a search for freelancers that do motivation letters specifically. We can’t offer any specific names on there because the freelancers change. We do have a guide that gives you some help finding the right person for you, though.
We also offer a downloadable version of our sample motivation letter for high school that can help you get started. It’s affordable and easy to use. You can find that here.
We have also found that Grammarly is a great resource to help with the quality of your writing and phrasing. Grammarly has a terrific free spell checker that also gives you recommendations on phrasing. The true power of Grammarly, though, is in its recommendations for the tone and wording of your writing. It’s a truly incredible resource that can make your writing better immediately.
A Sample Letter Motivation Letter for High School Application
Below is a sample motivation letter for a high school application. The goal is to get you started. You don’t want to use this letter. You want to use the guidance above to write your letter. We also offer an Editable Motivation Letter Template for High School that you can download and use to get started. That is a Microsoft Word version of this letter that can help you get started on your letter.