How to Write a College Cover Letter

Cover Letter printed on typewriter

When an employer is filtering through several applications, cover letters are often used to sort and prioritize candidates. As a means of introducing yourself and contextualizing your experience, a good cover letter can send your application to the top of the pile.

Writing an effective cover letter of your own is a much easier task after you’ve established the key elements college students need to emphasize when applying for internships or jobs. Learn more about crafting college cover letters for students below.

Cover Letter Tips for College Students

Personal Contact Details

Provide your name, phone number, and email address. It’s also useful to ensure any social media accounts linked to your contact details that may reflect your professionalism.

Recipient Contact Details

When you’re submitting a printed cover letter using paper, listing the name of the intended recipient can help ensure your correspondence ends up in the right hands. If you don't know the name of the person reading your cover letter and resume, don't fret. You can often find this after some quick research. You can typically skip this step when you’re digitally submitting your student cover letter.

Reference Line

People receive all kinds of junk email. The reference line lets your recipient know why you’re reaching out. For example, if you're a college student writing a cover letter for an internship, it should read something like “Re: Application for Internship Position.”

An Opening Statement

Cover letters, especially for students, are a type of first impression. Use your opening statement to provide a brief introduction for yourself. It might include your educational status, special distinctions you may hold, or anything else that can help the reader get a sense of who you are.

Three Paragraphs Explaining Why You're Perfect for the Job

What makes your skills, interests, and experiences relevant to the job? As a college student pursuing a career or internship in your chosen field, the bulk of a cover letter should emphasize how your skills and experiences align with the employer’s organization, even if you don’t have direct work experience in the field. 

By carefully looking over a job listing, you can quickly appraise the qualities an employer is searching for. You can also use these paragraphs as an opportunity to signal your involvement and interest with the company or industry.  You can see this demonstrated in the insurance cover letter example below.

Asking for an Interview and Next Steps

A student’s cover letter is basically an advertisement for yourself, which is why you should close with a call to action. It might be a request to arrange an interview to discuss your qualifications further, or even instructing the reader to direct their attention to your portfolio.

Taking these sort of small steps can help you fine-tune your presentation, which can be particularly important if you’re trying to learn how to write a cover letter for an internship when you don’t have experience.

How to Write a College Student Cover Letter

When writing a cover letter, always consider the perspective of your reader. Suppose you wanted a job in insurance. Your student cover letter could signal you’re informed or invested in the search for an insurance position by referencing organizations. For example, if you were applying to a job in insurance, you would reference organizations related to the insurance industry.

You would also want to highlight how your experience or skills were applicable to the job. Doing that is no more difficult than browsing the job description. For example, if you were writing an insurance cover letter you may explain how you gained customer service experience by working as a tutor at your university.

If the job description for an insurance agent position happened to be seeking applicants with people skills, you would want to provide a detailed picture of your interpersonal skills in action. Because your cover letter is ultimately trying to address the question of how you can help the company achieve its goals, or how those goals overlap with your own.

Sample Cover Letter Template for Students

Re: Application for Insurance Agent Position

Mary Realson
324 Book Drive
Townplace, CA 90011

David Smith
Regional Hiring Manager
Business Incorporated
321 Oak St.
Citytown, NV 89125

Dear Mr. Smith,

My name is Mary Realson, I recently discovered your job listing for the agent position. I’m currently a business student at the University of Learning, expected to graduate in the fall of 2020.

In my time working as a tutor at the university, I found a passion for meeting and interacting with new people. During that time, I learned a variety of ways to help people solve interpersonal problems, which has served me in past positions I’ve held in customer service.

I was recently reading about how your company is having trouble expanding its market in the Midwestern United States. I grew up in that region, and I’m quite familiar with the people. In short, I believe I’m uniquely suited to thrive in the position.

I’d love to talk about how I can contribute, please call me to arrange an interview so we can talk further steps.

Getting Attention with a College Cover Letter

A college student cover letter should be treated like an advertisement. You can do so by focusing on ways that your presence could add value to an employer. If you’re not certain your efforts are taking you in the right direction, consider checking out MyPath’s Career Wizard Quiz to see if you can discover career opportunities uniquely to you and your skill sets!