This is the second posting of tips and trick for Erasmus Mundus scholarship application. You could check the previous post entitled ‘Tips dan Trik untuk Aplikasi Erasmus Mundus (Bagian 1)‘.
Personally, I think this is the most important document for your application. There are different formats for each programs; some programs require applicants to answer specific questions, while others let them write the letter in their own format. For the latter case, these are some questions for your guidelines in writing your motivation letter.
Q1: What drives you to apply for this program?
Narrate your personal motivation to apply for the program and address a specific case that you experienced or has certain personal attachment to you. Describe the case not only based on your own personal experience, but also on scientific facts.
Q2: What is your main focus for studying in this program?
Based on the curriculum, identify one specific subject that you want to specialize in, or two or three correlated subjects which could be integrated into one specific topic for your future thesis. Describe your research or project plan for your thesis briefly. If your previous academic background has prepared you for the study, mention those subjects too.
Q3: Why do you choose to study in this Erasmus Mundus program?
Mention the advantage of studying this program instead of other similar programs. This could be because of its broad options of courses or specialization on certain subjects. Address the advantages of studying in Europe as well, especially within your Consortium countries. The advantages are not necessarily related to only academic excellence or technology implementation, but also personal development opportunities through project-based courses or intercultural experiences.
Q4: What are your future plans after finishing this program?
Describe your future plans specifically. Demonstrate that your future plans will benefit society in general. Identify what you are going to be in the next five to ten years, and what are your detailed activities will be for that role. Describe how the program will help you achieve your future plans and how you will implement the knowledge gained for the benefit of society.
Q5: Why do you deserve to be awarded for this scholarship?
Mention your strength here and other reasons why you deserve the scholarship. Remember that being excellent in academics does not mean everything. You could highlight your other potential or your achievements (awards, publications, etc.) and commitment in certain field. You could also describe how you will bridge projects or research cooperation between Europe and Indonesia.
These are only guidelines and you could mention them in different order. I will take an example on answering the first question (Q1) based on my motivation letter written for my current program.
“Experiencing an academic life in Bandung for four years and a professional life in Greater Jakarta area for two years urges me to witness a significantly rapid urban development. However, it is unfortunate that this development is not supported by sustainability…
… although Jakarta’s ambient pollutant concentration complies with Indonesian annual standards (Ministry of Environment, 2010), those averages would fail to meet air quality guidelines set by WHO due to substandard national requirement of pollutant concentration. This phenomenon show that Indonesia needs to apply appropriate strategies to achieve economic growth while maintaining livable urban environment…
… McKinsey Global Institute (2012) stated that since 2002, the economics of mid-sized and large middleweight cities have been growing more rapidly at 6.4% and 6.7% respectively, than those of Jakarta at 5.8%. Development of these cities needs to be planned strategically to avoid environmental issues occurred previously in Jakarta, so that expertise in sustainable urban development is urgently required in Indonesia.”
Answer to Q1 is critical to show your motivation for studying. Provide a case that demonstrate your motivation and is closely related to yourself. Observing the air pollution in Jakarta as the center of economic activities, I was motivated to study sustainable urban development in order to prevent other large cities to experience the same condition despite their economic growth. Since this letter will be read by academics, strengthen your case with accountable facts.
An important tip in writing motivation letter is be interesting! As the committee will review hundreds of paper applications from highly-qualified applicants, you have to stand out. Put passion into your writing! Make the committee curious on you! Cover every important materials, but leave questions which answers you want to reveal during your future study. In short, your motivation letter has to be highly personalized: you have a personal story in it and it is relevant specifically to the program.
Ideally, the length of motivation letter is ranged between 850 to 1000 words. To produce an excellent motivation letter, you have to write a comprehensive, yet short letter. This is why revision is important; it is better to write an extensive first draft to ensure you include all the details you have in mind, and then review which parts are less important and eliminate them. You could also add important details uncovered in your first draft. In addition, do not duplicate what is written in the CV. Save the space for writing something more impactful. During this phase, you have to be harsh on your own writing. Asking for second opinion will also be valuable.
Third Step: Trial and Trial
After sending the application, you will receive the notification of the application result in around March-April. If you are accepted into the program with scholarship, then congratulations!
If you are not accepted with scholarship and placed on reserve list, then do not feel miserable! At least, you are closer to your target. Reserve list means that if one of the main candidates decline the offer, then he/she will be replaced by the other candidates based on the rank. I was also on the reserve list before being offered for the scholarship. You could also look for another funding source, such as LPDP or other scholarship offered by the Consortium universities.
If, despite your maximum efforts you could not find other sources, then you might need to wait for next year for re-applying. You will not be blacklisted for re-applying Erasmus Mundus programs. This is the third step: Trial and Trial. During the waiting, you could use the time to enhance yourself to be a better applicant, such as gaining relevant professional experiences through working or internship.
This third step is not always mandatory. Some people might find their fortune in first trial, while others might not. During the trials, you might feel exhausted, pessimistic, or even envious of people who seems to get their luck so easily. It is humane, I have been there. However, you must at all cost avoid jealousy, thinking that they do not deserve what they have got and you are more entitled to deserve it. Focus on yourself instead of others; use your time to contemplate and review your previous applications. Ask yourself whether you are applying the right program or not. Review what the weaknesses from the previous applications are and strategize how you will improve them. Question yourself; have you performed your best for your IELTS/TOEFL test? Have you exhibited that you comprehend the topics of the program? Have you developed the highest qualification for this program? Be critical to yourself!
This is the step where your hard work, determination, and patience are tried. In the end, all of your efforts will be paid off and you will be really proud of yourself, even amazed by what you have done and become. Quoting from Margaret Thatcher, “Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s a day you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it.”