Writing Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter will give me your view of your writing accomplishments this semester. It’s your last chance to impress me with your writing abilities, your work ethic, and your contributions to the course. It might help to think of your cover letter as a guided tour to your writing this semester. Or as an introduction to the book that is your portfolio. I want to see three things in the portfolio and in the cover letter: quality work, evidence of improvement, and your ability to assess your own writing. To impress me with the quality of your work, direct me to places in your final papers that are particularly striking. To show me your improvement, point to or highlight significant places material—in first drafts, peer-editing drafts, or annotated drafts—and then point me toward the equivalent, improved spots in your final versions. Explain the improvement. Show me, for example, how you resolved a specific problem, expanded on an undeveloped idea, or condensed a wordy passage. To demonstrate your ability to assess your own writing work, take the cover letter seriously, talk about the process of writing your drafts went through, reflect on writing strategies you’re using now that you may not have felt comfortable with in January. In coming up with material for the cover letter, feel free to borrow from your online journals, your first drafts, your later drafts, your comments on other people’s papers, our rubrics; any material you’ve created this semester is fair game for inclusion in this discussion.
• Quote from your own works to support your assertions about their quality.
• Connect specific passages in your writing to our class goals and to your own personal writing goals. It might help you to review:
o your class notes, especially those containing the paper guidelines, the rubrics we wrote on the board, and our discussions about analysis/critical thinking
o your Personal Writing Guide, which should reflect the major writing goals we’ve been discussing all semester.
• Be as specific as possible. The more you can show me what’s working (or not working) in your writing, the more I can see how well you’ve learned the reflective, metacognitive approach to writing I’ve been hoping to encourage.
1. Discuss your best entry and why it is your best.
2. Explain why you excluded the paper you’ve excluded.
3. Detail the revisions you’ve made and the improvements and changes you want readers to notice.
4. Explain how you would continue to improve a paper if you had more time.
5. Outline the process that one or more of your entries went through.
6. Acknowledge your weaknesses but show how you are working to overcome them.
7. Acknowledge the readers who have influenced your portfolio pieces and how.
8. Discuss the connections between the pieces you’ve included.
Last Minute Advice:This advice may seem obvious, but please write this letter as carefully as possible, proofreading vigilantly and trying to remain on a somewhat formal level. Although the primary function of your cover letter is to explain your writing prowess, it should also function as a demonstration of that writing prowess.