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College Student Cover Letter: Sample & Writing Guide [+ Tips]

College Student Cover Letter: Sample & Writing Guide [+ Tips]

No experience? No problem. We make writing a college student cover letter as easy as making ramen. With expert tips and examples, we've got you covered.

Jacques Buffett
Jacques Buffett
Career Expert

Wherever you are in your college journey, job hunting numbers are scary.

 

Have you recently thrown your graduate cap in the air?

 

According to the National Centre for Education Statistics, you’re one of four million graduates from this academic year alone.

 

Still studying? You’re one of 20 million students. 

 

How will you stand out from the crowd, get an interview and land a job? Whether you’re starting your career or seeking your first ever position in paid work the answer is the same.

 

With a pristine college student cover letter.

 

This guide will show you:

  • A professional cover letter example for college students better than 9 out of 10 others.
  • College student cover letter templates that show off your strengths and skills.
  • A detailed guide on how to write a cover letter as a college student that’ll work with your resume to get you an interview and land you a job.

 

This sample cover letter for college students could graduate summa cum laude:

 

College Student Cover Letter Sample

 

Jim Munson

1839 Murray Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15217

(412) 522-6163

jimunson99@gmail.com

 

10/09/2019

 

Carrie Connors

Head of Research

Prosthenics

3703 Forbes Ave

Pittsburgh, PA, 15213

 

Dear Carrie,

 

As a recent graduate of Penn State with a B.S. in Chemistry majoring in biochemistry, I’m applying for the position of clinical research associate with Prosthenics. I developed a particular passion for the interaction of electrodes with biological tissue and clinical research skills which I am confident can contribute to Prosthenics’ increasing focus on neuroprosthetics. I believe I can help with implementing cutting edge prosthetic solutions as a clinical research associate whilst continuing to expand my knowledge in the field. Working with you would be an incredible first step in my research career, as in my opinion you’re the gold standard in this profession.

 

In addition to my required course work, I volunteered as a lab assistant in my university’s biochemistry research facility where I had the privilege to work with leading lights in the field of bionics. I worked on a broad range of research projects such as creating a bionic hand electrode that improved nerve signal efficiency by 50%.

 

This opportunity excites me more than I can say. Your reputation in the field of bionics is unequalled and the developments led by your team are consistently world first. Your dedication to improving the lives of people who use prosthetics is incredible and perfectly reflects my own passion for this field of research. 

 

Could we arrange a call to discuss how my experience working with biosignal sensors could contribute to your goal of continually optimizing performance in prosthetics?

 

Best Regards,

Jim Munson

 

P.S. I’d also love to discuss how I consolidated three legacy databases into a single system and reduced data entry time for senior researchers by 50%.

 

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

 

college student resume and cover letter set

College Student Cover Letter for a Resume—See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here.

 

You’ll need a best in class resume to go with your college student cover letter. See our guide: College Student Resume

 

Want to learn more about why you need a cover letter? Check out our blog post: Are Cover Letters Necessary in 2019?

 

Now let’s get that college student cover letter written.

 

1

Use the Best College Student Cover Letter Templates

 

Your first lesson of cover letter writing 101

 

Structure matters.

 

Ace it with a clean, ordered template that’ll get hiring managers excited to read your cover letter.

 

Bonus. Get this right and you’ve nailed the biggest single factor employers are focussing on for graduate candidates, whatever the career sector. What is it?

 

82% of employers in 2019 are looking for solid writing skills. Write your letter well and you’ve got that covered before they even look at your resume. Here’s a template you can use:

 

Sample Cover Letter for a College Student—Structure Checklist

 

  • Your contact info in a sharp header
  • The company’s contact info
  • Dear (hiring manager’s name)
  • Paragraph #1: introduction and an achievement that’s tailored to the job
  • Paragraph #2: key skills and why you fit the job
  • Paragraph #3: your passion + why you want in
  • Paragraph #4: your call to action (CTA)
  • Best regards + your name
  • PS: add value

 

It’s that simple.

 

But before you start writing make sure you get your formatting right. If you want your letter to be read it’s got to be easy on the eye.

 

Cover Letter Sample for College Student—Formatting Basics

 

  • One-inch margins on all sides. White space improves readability.
  • Left-align your letter, it’s easier to read. Don’t use justification, it’s against the standard rules of business letter formatting.
  • Speaking of business letter format, use the correct spacing: 1 or 1.15.
  • Double space between paragraphs. More white space to frame your content.
  • For a professional flourish, use a digital copy of your handwritten signature in your sign-off (optional).
  • Save in PDF format. It’s the best cover letter file format because it keeps the layout intact. Keep a copy in another format though because some employers won’t accept PDF.

 

For more advice on cover letter formatting check out our guide: Cover Letter Format: Complete Guide to Cover Letter Layout

 

Don’t know how to find out the hiring manager’s name? See our guide: How to Address a Cover Letter

 

2

Get the Basics Right With the Correct Header and Salutation

 

You’ll see many cover letter templates for many a career. To get an interview for the position you want the rule is the same for all of them. Follow professional letter layout rules. It’s an easy win that many students forget about. The first thing you’ll be writing is the header, that’s the part with the contact details. Always include:

  • Your name.
  • Your address.
  • Your phone number.
  • Your email address—line break.
  • Date.
  • Name of person you’re sending it to.
  • Their title/position.
  • Their address.

 

Here’s an example.

 

College Student Cover Letter—Header Template

 

Jim Munson

1839 Murray Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15217

(412) 522-6163

jimunson99@gmail.com

 

10/09/2019

 

Carrie Connors

Head of Research

Prosthenics

3703 Forbes Ave

Pittsburgh, PA, 15213

 

College Student Cover Letter—Salutation

 

Salutation is just a fancy word for the little part of your letter that says “Dear (hiring manager’s name).” It’s a formal piece of writing so always kick off with “Dear” and never anything casual like “Hi.” That’s fine for a casual email not when applying for jobs.

 

Also, we’ve mentioned using the hiring manager’s name. This is a great trick because it actually activates your brain in a powerful way. But what if you really can’t find a name?

 

We recommend you use “Dear Hiring Manager.” Or even better name the department or team you’re applying to, as in “Dear Sales Associate Hiring Manager.” You don’t know the name but you’ve personalized it just enough to catch their attention.

 

Lastly, if you want an interview then don’t start with “To Whom It May Concern.” It’s too old-fashioned, a hiring manager sees that and their first thought will be “OK Boomer.” 

 

See more examples of how to format your cover letter heading: Cover Letter Heading: Format & 4+ Header Examples

 

So that’s the end of the beginning, onto the good stuff.

 

3

Start Your College Student Cover Letter Right

 

You’ve got to start strong. Grab their attention and keep it with a killer opening paragraph.

 

But don’t just show off. 

 

Think. What do you have to offer the employer? The job advertisement was posted with specific business goals and challenges in mind.

 

Be the one who’ll help meet those goals and solve those challenges.

 

So read the job description and use it to tailor your intro to the job.

 

There’s a lot of ways of crafting your opening paragraph. Let's look at some of the best for a sample cover letter for college students.

 

Show off an Accomplishment or Your Impressive Background 

 

Sure, this is tough when you’re a college student with limited experience. But you have achievements that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

 

This is a good tactic for recent graduates. Highlight your academic achievements and extracurricular activities to show you’re a well-rounded candidate.

 

College Student Cover Letter Examples [First Paragraph]

 

right

As a recent graduate of Penn State with a B.S. in Chemistry majoring in biochemistry, I’m applying for the position of clinical research associate with Prosthenics. I developed a particular passion for the interaction of electrodes with biological tissue and clinical research skills which I am confident can contribute to Prosthenics’ increasing focus on neuroprosthetics. I believe I can help with implementing cutting edge prosthetic solutions as a clinical research associate whilst continuing to expand my knowledge in the field. Working with you would be an incredible first step in my research career, as in my opinion you’re the gold standard in this field.

wrong

I’m a Penn State graduate with a B.S. in chemistry seeking to pursue a career in clinical research. I majored in biochemistry and I achieved an excellent GPA. I’d love the opportunity to work for a prestigious company like Prosthenics.

Why does the first college student cover letter example work? There’s knowledge and skills that are specific to the company and the job. Clearly, the writer has done their research about the company's goals.

 

The second sample. It shows what you’ve done but there are no numbers or achievements to back it up. 

 

Worse, there are no skills and no focus on the role being applied for. 

 

It’s too generic for hiring managers who see 250 applications for each job opening.

 

This might not work so well if you haven’t graduated or haven’t got impressive achievements and numbers to highlight.

Pro Tip: Don’t mention your GPA unless it’s 3.5 or higher. Don’t be tempted to lie, better to leave it out entirely and think of other achievements to mention. 

Here’s another tactic.

 

Show Excitement, Enthusiasm and Passion

 

This job has got you as excited as a cheerleader at the end of an undefeated football season. Show that passion and wow the hiring manager with your sheer enthusiasm.

 

Sure, if you’re still studying, chances are you’ve not got any paid experience. Don’t just give it the old college try though. Even without experience you can still write a professional cover letter.

 

College Student Cover Letters With No Experience—Introduction

 

right

I’ve been looking for part-time work while I pursue a Fine Arts Degree at CUNY Brooklyn and nothing has excited me until I saw your advertisement for a barista. I am a passionate advocate for fair trade in all areas of commerce, so I am incredibly impressed by your commitment to 100% ethical sourcing. I’ve seen reviews of Mike’s Beans and I can see you regularly serve the ‘God shot’ to your dedicated customer base. Even better, I live just a quarter-mile away. I am a passionate home coffee enthusiast with experience of using an espresso machine and it would be amazing to join the team at an establishment with a reputation as great as yours.

 

Nice. That positively screams passion. It shows you’ve done your research about the business too. You can bet that Mike will read your resume.

 

wrong
I’d absolutely love to work at Mike’s Beans. I’m the biggest fan of your coffee and I drink it almost every day. It’s that good. Your environmentally friendly approach to coffee? That’s incredible too. I think environmental issues are super important and it’s amazing to see you’re doing your bit. I’m seeking part-time employment while I study fine arts at CUNY Brooklyn and I would be delighted to be your ‘hipster barista.’

 

Eager, but a little cringe-worthy. It lacks professionalism and doesn’t offer any noticeable skills.

 

Just be aware this approach won’t work for more formal college student jobs. Great for a barista, not so good for a graduate job with BCG.

 

These aren’t the only ways of writing an opening paragraph. Here are some more examples of ways to start a cover letter.

  • Name-drop by mentioning you know someone internal.
  • Show knowledge of the company’s news or current events.
  • Specifically target the hiring manager.
  • Create a belief statement.

 

Whatever you do, make it compelling and make it specific to the job you’re applying for.

 

Discover more cover letter openings in our guide: How to Start a Cover Letter

 

So what's next?

 

4

Write an Incredible College Student Cover Letter Middle Paragraph

 

Now we’ve come to the meat in the sandwich. Don’t get the hiring manager excited with a stunning opener then disappoint with lackluster middle.

 

Keep their attention. Here’s how.

 

First, you need a paragraph where you outline your relevant experience and achievements. 

 

Then follow it with a paragraph where you show your motivation and explain why you want this particular job.

 

Here’s an example for the science graduate we talked about earlier.

 

Cover Letter Examples for a College Student—Middle Paragraph

 

right

In addition to my required course work, I volunteered as a lab assistant in my university’s biochemistry research facility where I had the privilege to work with leading lights in the field of bionics. I worked on a broad range of research projects such as creating a bionic hand electrode that improved nerve signal efficiency by 50%.

 

This opportunity excites me more than I can say. Your reputation in the field of bionics is unequaled and the developments led by your team are consistently world first. Your dedication to improving the lives of people who use prosthetics is incredible and perfectly reflects my own passion for this field of research. 

 

This one is hitting all the right notes.

 

Write a middle paragraph like that and your foot is already in the door.

 

Write one like this though and the door stays shut.

 

wrong

I want to work in bionics because I’ve always been fascinated by this application of biochemistry. I’m excited by the opportunities it presents to make a real difference to people living with disabilities. I want to pursue a career in biochemistry that will achieve tangible results for society and working for prosthenics would be the perfect opportunity to do that.

 

Yes, it’s eager and passionate. But there’s no substance, no evidence and no proof of understanding the requirements of the job.

 

How about our bold barista?

 

College Student Cover Letter Examples—Body

 

right

Apart from being an enthusiastic amateur barista, I’ve also undertaken formal training. I completed a latte art course at Abbotsford Road Coffee Specialists. My foam art is on point and I’m particularly proud of my latte cat design, which was highly commended at a local latte art competition.

 

I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the team at Mike’s Coffee. Your establishment prides itself on creating bespoke coffees for its clientele and I’d love to leverage my skills to help you keep delivering amazing brews. 

 

Now that’s a god shot.

 

wrong

I love barista work because I’m a people person. Nothing pleases me more than putting a smile on a customer’s face. I get so much happiness from giving someone the perfect orange mocha frappuccino! Nothing compares to it.

 

That’s way too eager. You’ve convinced Mike that you love coffee but it offers precious little else.

 

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your resume here.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

 

Regardless of the position you are applying for, make sure your college student cover letter doesn’t get too long. Check out our guide: Cover Letter Length: How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

 

5

Close Your College Student Cover Letter With a Call to Action

 

Your cover letter is near perfect, so why aren’t you getting invited to interviews? 

 

Could it be that you didn’t ask?

 

But don’t just write, “Please interview me.” Give the hiring manager that little something extra. 

 

College Student Cover Letter Samples—CTAs

 

right

Could we arrange a call to discuss how my experience working with biosignal sensors could contribute to your goal of continually optimizing performance in prosthetics?

 

Best Regards,

Jim Munson

 

P.S. I’d also love to discuss how I consolidated three legacy databases into a single system and reduced data entry time for senior researchers by 50%.

 

Nice. You’ve finished off with yet another example of how you meet the hiring manager’s requirements. There’s also additional juicy achievements.

 

wrong

Thank you for taking the time to review my application. Please see attached my resume and I look forward to meeting with you to discuss why I’d be the perfect candidate.

 

This doesn’t work. It’s dull, old-fashioned, and doesn’t offer anything in return. It’ll go down about as well as Donald Trump running for Student Body President.

Pro Tip: See the “P.S.” in the first example? That’s cover letter dynamite. It’s as attention-grabbing as free beer during freshman orientation. Use it to add another great achievement and get the hiring manager sold on your application.

 Don't forget to use the right formal closing, too. “Sincerely” works fine, but there are alternatives.

 

Here’s five of the best formal closings.

 

College Student Cover Letter Closing Salutations

 

  • Thank you,
  • Best regards,
  • Kind regards,
  • Sincerely,
  • With best regards,

 

Can’t think of a great offer to finish your college student cover letter? Using enthusiasm and eagerness can work too. Read our guide: How to End a Cover Letter

 

Looking for more tips for recent graduates? Check out our guide: Recent Graduate Cover Letter Example

 

Key Takeaways

 

Here’s how to write the perfect cover letter for a college student:

  • Follow the right format. It makes your letter more readable and helps to nail the employer’s need for written communication skills.
  • Start with a big achievement or energetic eagerness. But don’t make it all about you. Be relevant to the hiring manager’s needs.
  • Prove your worth in the college student cover letter middle. Show off your achievements and experience, always staying relevant. Then explain why you want this job
  • Finish with a CTA. Ask the question and offer something in return. Get your resume read and get that interview.
  • Put in a P.S. as the icing on the cake.

 

Need more advice? Struggling to write a cover letter for a college student with no experience? Ask away in the comments section. We’re here to help.

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Jacques Buffett
Jacques Buffett
Jacques is a career expert committed to delivering top-notch job hunting advice. His guides will empower you to craft winning resumes and cover letters.

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