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Mistakes student commit in LoI when applying for college admissions abroad

The dos and dont’s for writing a Letter of Intent (LoI) in applying for an overseas educational programme.

August 29, 2022 / 01:21 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

Basic errors in writing a Letter of Intent (LoI) when applying for admission to a college abroad could lower your chances of selection.

Choosing the college you want to go to and arranging finances and accommodation isn’t all that you have to do. You have to also write a well-thought LoI for securing admission to many overseas educational programmes.

Experts call the LoI a make or break document. It lists the reasons why a student aspires to study in a different country, in a particular institution and his/her future goals. In a nutshell, it should make the student stand out.

It's easier said than done. Students tend to commit basic mistakes in crafting an LoI that cuts short their chances of admission. Here are some things to follow:

Be relevant and avoid superlatives


Candidates should try to give a holistic presentation of their credentials, but more importantly, it should be relevant to their aspired domain–especially achievements they think would make them stand out, suggests Ankur Dhawan, President of e-learning provider upGrad Abroad.

And one should not use superlative adjectives for the institutions in a subservient way to please them. Rather, be realistic about what appealed to you about the institutions to apply to the institution.

“The jury is experienced and can differentiate between honesty and fawning,” Dhawan says.

Do research and never copy

Before writing an LoI, candidates should research institution’s faculty, infrastructure, research facilities and industry partners, he says. “Only mention details you have thoroughly researched,” Dhawan cautions.

While Pragati Singh Parihar (where does she work? What is her title?) agrees that it's useful to do some research before writing an LoI, she warns students to never copy ideas they come across in the process.

“A college admission department gets hundreds of LoIs so they will get to know if your LoI is a copy of something from the Internet,” says Parihar, who has a Masters degree from University College Dublin and was the recipient of a UCD Global Scholarship.

Plagiarism affects the decision-making process. An LoI is meant to showcase your skills and to make you stand out. It must be original and personal.

If you are applying for admission to a course in political science, for instance, and simply say you have been interested in politics since your childhood as the reason for your choice, you may not be able to make a good impression, Parihar says.

Your chances increase if you back it up with your work experience, publications or record of relevant volunteer activity.

“Your LoI is something that can set you apart from thousands of other applicants and increase your chances of admission and at times even pave the way for a scholarship,” Parihar adds.

Never show an intention to remain in the host country

In Sayantan Biswas’s opinion, displaying an intention to remain in the host country because it is your dream to work abroad is the biggest mistake students make while writing an LoI.

“Ideally, your goals need not be driven by the country you'd like to work in but by the type of work you are hoping to specialise in,” says Biswas, co-founder at education consultant UniScholarz.

Spelling out immigration as your reason to want to study abroad typically lowers your chances because universities like to recruit students who are willing to go back to their home countries for employment.

Biswas deduces this simply stems from the fact that employment opportunities for local students get impacted if more and more international students take up existing jobs in countries where the job market is already shrinking for locals.
Abhishek Sahu covers HR and Careers at Moneycontrol.
first published: Aug 29, 2022 01:21 pm
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