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How to write a captivating motivational essay
Masters / 1 March 2024
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Admissions Manager
Ella is a Recruitment and Admissions Manager for the master's programmes at Frankfurt School. She is also a part-time master’s student of English literature at Goethe University.

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Your documents are prepared, your CV is finalised and your application is almost ready to submit – but you’re stuck on the motivational essays. You know you are ready for your master’s degree, and you know you’re a great candidate. But how can you make sure your confidence and expertise come across in your motivational essays?

Start with a powerful hook

A tried-and-true writing tip. Kick off your essay with a compelling anecdote, quote, question, or fun fact that grabs the reader’s attention and kicks off your narrative. Did a business leader say something that sparked your interest in the field years ago? What inspirational phrase keeps you going through exam week? Let us know!

Share personal stories

What academic triumphs or professional bumps in the road led you to where you are today? How did your pathway twist and turn? Your readers can probably relate and will connect with your message if they can see themselves in your story. Perhaps you experienced a setback or hardship that had a silver lining or joined an extracurricular club that changed your life. Maybe your experience abroad challenged your preconceived cultural notions. More details will draw your reader in and paint a brighter picture of your unique experience.

Use vivid descriptions and imagery

We know you are not applying to a creative writing programme here, but you will stand out if your essays are vibrant and specific. At the very least, your essays should be more than a prose format of your CV. Better yet, use sensory adjectives to breathe life into your story. You are passionate about your field of study and have cool experiences to share – let it show!

Be vulnerable and honest

Don’t be afraid to share your failures along with your successes. Showing you have the skills to overcome challenges and grow as an individual is inspiring to read and has the added bonus of demonstrating your resilience. We have all experienced challenges along the way, and completing a master’s programme is a challenge in itself. Show your reader you can capably face the inevitable setbacks and complications, and you are sure to leave an impression.

Incorporate wit and humour

Light-hearted stories or clever twists keep the tone engaging and relatable. Just as we’ve all had challenges in life, we have all experienced funny moments, too. If adding humour is part of your writing style, embrace it. If not, you can leave it out. In any case, just be mindful to maintain an appropriate tone regarding your topic and audience.

Answer the questions

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many students simply make a list of their accomplishments without actually reading if that’s what the essay questions asked for! First, read the questions. Then, you can do a bit of research on the institution if necessary and have a final look (or ask a friend!) to make sure the essay you just put effort into actually answers the question.

These tips can help you craft attention-grabbing and memorable essays. Even though the motivational essays are one part of your profile that will be reviewed by the admissions team, it doesn’t hurt to put your best foot forward whenever you can. As we said above, you already have a CV with your list of accolades and accomplishments. Don’t make the mistake of rewriting your CV here and lose the opportunity to let your unique stories shine in your motivational essays. This is your chance to make an impression on the admissions team and increase your chances of receiving an invitation to the next stage of the application process: the interview.

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