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How to Format a Letter to a College


Letters to colleges can be sent for a variety of reasons, including asking for information or stating what motivated you to apply for a program. What such letters have in common is their formal style, which in turn influences their format. Before you begin writing the letter, you must establish the purpose for writing and make a list of the points you want to make. This can help you to include all important information and achieve the letter's goal.

Write your address at the top right corner of the paper and the recipient's address on the left (two rows beneath your address). Add the date you wrote the letter just beneath your address.

Include a salutation in the beginning of your letter. "Dear Sir/Madam" is acceptable when you do not know the recipient's name. Otherwise, use the recipient's name along with a courtesy title: "Dear Mr. Jackson."

Mention the purpose of your letter in the introductory paragraph. It's helpful for the reader -- whether a professor or a secretary -- to know the reason you are writing (for example: "I am writing to...").

Divide the points you want to make into three paragraphs. Keep relevant points within the same paragraph. Expand your points, but remember that this is a letter, not an essay, so keep it concise.

Use expressions such as "in addition," "furthermore" and "however" to keep the flow throughout the main body of the letter. Don't just copy your bullet points from the notepad.

Mention additional materials you are enclosing with your letter or any temporary changes in your contact details in the concluding paragraph.

Close the letter thanking the recipient ("Thank you very much for considering my request, and I look forward to hearing from you"). "Yours sincerely" is the most suitable phrase to conclude such a letter, followed by your name and a signature (if you don't send it via email).

About the Author

Tasos Vossos has been a professional journalist since 2008. He has previously worked as a staff writer for "Eleftheros Tipos," a leading newspaper of Greece, and is currently a London-based sports reporter for Perform Sports Media in the United Kingdom. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication and media from the University of Athens.

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