A motivational letter, along with an applicant’s bursary application, can go a long way to give a student an advantage over other applicants. The motivational letter is an opportunity for the student to truly state their case and convince their application committee that they are the best candidate for the bursary.
Some basic information in the bursary would typically include an introduction of the applicant, what they are studying, an expression of the applicant’s financial need, what their passions and goals are and how receiving the bursary might help them.
With those things in mind, the student can begin thinking about structuring their motivation letter as follows:
- Open with a greeting such as either of the following: “Dear application committee”, “Dear sir/madam”, “To whom it may concern”, and so on. The applicant should choose a greeting that is appropriate for the context, so if they can address a specific person, then they should, otherwise if they are unsure with whom they are speaking, they can address a group or an unspecific sir/madam. The greeting, however, must be formal.
- The opening paragraph should include the following: a brief, formal introduction of the student, the student’s year of study, their reasoning for applying for the bursary, and what they are studying to provide insight into what they expect the bursary programme to cover. It might be helpful to share how you might have received word of the programme as well, i.e. “I was notified about this bursary opportunity through my university and it piqued my interest…”
- The body paragraphs should include further elaboration on the applicant's studies and the applicant themselves. Where the first paragraph might have been more brief and formal, the student has an opportunity to be more personal and more detailed in the body of the letter. Typical writing points include; discussing the applicant’s studies and why they have chosen their line of study, what they hope to do with their studies i.e., obtain a PhD or get into working in whichever area, how the bursary will help them achieve their goals, their academic achievements, why they need the bursary, why they are passionate about their studies, and so on. Although more detail is expected in these paragraphs, refrain from informal language and try to be as precise as possible when conveying goals and passions.
- The closing paragraph should include sentiments of gratitude for the opportunity to submit an application. This is a short paragraph.
- The sign off will be a formal one, such as: “Kind Regards, …”, “All the Best, …”, or “Yours Sincerely, …”.
Overall, the applicant should attempt to be as sincere as possible, without divulging too much unnecessary information that may not be of any use to deliberators. If the applicant keeps all of this in mind, they will be in the right shape to submit an adequate motivation letter.