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Letter of intent?

  1. Feb 23, 2007 #1
    Hey everyone,

    I'm supposed to include a letter of intent with my application to graduate school. I've been mulling over what to write about for a few days. I really can't think of what to include in this letter - it's a daunting task because it seems like this will be used to judge the type of person I am.

    I do realize I'm supposed to discuss why I want to go to graduate school, etc., but I just can't think of what else to include in the letter.

    Any suggestions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 23, 2007 #2


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    Future plans?
  4. Feb 23, 2007 #3
    talk about why you are applying there, what your research interests are. basically answer the question, "why should we invest our time,money, and resources in you over all the other qualified candidates?"
  5. Feb 23, 2007 #4
    Include some philosophical reasons and perspectives as to why you have to do your specific field, or do they not like that? I feel like everyone's letters are concrete and include the same information.

    I feel like when I eventually apply, I want to write something abstract, then again, I am an idiot.
  6. Feb 23, 2007 #5
    I recently completed my grad school applications. Even got one offer so far, so my letter can't be all that bad. Here's what I've figured out from the experience, as well as from talking to graduate students and professors. Note that I didn't get this from a website or anything, so understand that this is all coming from a fellow student and not from a letter-writing expert.

    Here's what you SHOULD do. If they ask a specific question, then the bulk of your letter should bear directly on that question. For example, one of the schools I applied to asked me what my immediate and long term career goals were, and how graduate study in physics could accomplish them. Another school asked me to write a one page autobiographical sketch. Usually the question that they ask will be something along these lines. If they don't ask you any specific question, then just write a letter explaining why you want to go to graduate school, and why you'd make a good candidate. But it's important to tailor your essay to the specific criteria that they mention. For example, if they're asking for your immediate and future career goals, DO NOT give them an autobiography (I made this mistake, and fortunately a grad student told me to rewrite the whole thing before I had sent it in). No matter what issue they want you to address in your letter, be sure to mention your academic qualifications (such as a double major or something about your upper division courses), teaching and research experience, and a specific area of physics that you're interested in pursuing at the graduate level. It's important to note that unless you visit this grad school or already know people in the physics department, the letter is really the only way they get to know you. They want to know that you can handle graduate research, and that you won't quit on them after a couple of years.

    Here's what I've figured out that you SHOULD NOT do. I've been told that admissions committees tend to look disfavorably on the applicants who write letters about how much they love their wife, or other things of that nature. In other words, you shouldn't include irrelevant personal details. Also, if you got bad grades in your first couple of years, or failed some upper division course, it would not be a good idea to discuss that. The letter of intent is where you address your strengths. Many grad schools will allow you to add a separate letter in which you can explain the C in cosmology, or the class you retook (or whatever else). I'm not sure why this is the case, but people have emphasized this to me quite strongly.

    Well, that's what I know. Someone please correct me if I've given any bad advice. Good luck with the applications!
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