If you have decided to pursue an occupational therapy program, it's likely you'll be required to write a letter of intent to your chosen college or university to explain your aspirations. Higher education professionals know: the best indicator of a student's future success is what she has accomplished in the past, so this is no time for false modesty. If you had to reduce a letter of intent to two words, keep the words “qualified” and “motivated” top-of-mind as you write every sentence.
Introduce yourself energetically by providing your name, current academic status and your intention. Specify exactly which program you seek to enroll in and whether you wish to become a part- or full-time student in the program.
Take no more than two paragraphs to describe your academic accomplishments. Your goal is to show that you have taken the time to lay the proper foundation for the program you seek to enter. Refer to any distinctions that you believe set you apart from your peers, including your academic honors, teaching assistantships, conference presentations and published work .
Transition to those extracurricular activities, laboratory stints, internships and work experiences that have helped round out your education. Explain succinctly what you have learned and how the lessons have been useful adjuncts to your classroom pursuits.
Forge a personal connection to the occupational therapy program. Here is where you must demonstrate that you have researched the program and have developed the conviction that you are the right fit for it. For example, if the program accentuates research over hands-on skills, underscore how your natural intellectual curiosity could help you make worthwhile research contributions to the program. Without sounding gratuitous, refer to the impressive nature of the program's faculty, resources or facilities so that the screening committee can begin to envision you in the environment. Briefly describe your professional goals and how you believe the program would help you achieve them.
Segue to your strongest personal attributes and those that foreshadow your success in the program. Without parroting the ideas expressed in the program's literature, mention those attributes that describe you, such as your self-motivation, initiative or ability to solve problems independently and creativity – an undeniable asset for those who pursue a career in occupational therapy. Wrap up this paragraph by alluding to your references; express confidence that they will reinforce and amplify your assertions and recommend you for admission to the program.
Conclude your letter of intent by expressing enthusiasm for becoming a student in the program and a spirited confidence in how you would bring the right mixture of academic rigor, intellectual curiosity, commitment and personal integrity to the program. Thank the recipient for considering your application.
Your organized letter should build toward a natural and coherent conclusion – your obvious suitability for the program – and should be free of redundancy. Edit it ruthlessly, and ask a trusted adviser to critique it for you. Make every sentence count, and put every one through the filter of “qualifications” and “motivation” as a test for relevancy.
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