Obtaining quality letters of recommendation can be a daunting task for scholarship applicants. Many don’t know who to ask to write this potentially valuable document. Here at Scholarships.com, we have some simple advice: "Don’t ask someone to recommend you for something about which they know nothing.” Still unsure what to do? Here are some pointers that could help any student in need of a letter of recommendation.
Don’t ask your cousin or your parents’ dog walker for a recommendation. Ask someone relevant to the scholarship for which you are applying. For example, if volunteer work is among the scholarship’s criteria, ask your supervisor from the organization where you volunteered.
Don’t wait until the last minute and give the person helping you out just a day or two to complete the letter. As soon as you know you are going to apply for a scholarship that requires a letter of recommendation, start putting the necessary documents together then select and ask your ideal author of this letter if they would be willing to help you out.
Give your recommender enough material so that it will be quick and easy for them to oblige. Alternatively, you can just write it for them and ask them to sign their name to it. If you take this approach, just remember that they are not likely to sign anything they don’t want to be associated with, so speak well of yourself but keep it realistic.
Just to give your letter the authenticity the scholarship provider is likely to desire, have your recommender put the letter on their letterhead.
Whatever you do, don’t make the person writing this letter for you hunt for stamps or an oversized envelope (much less buy them!). Be appreciative of their time and effort and show it by being as prepared and gracious as possible.
In addition to giving your recommender ample time to provide you with a good letter of recommendation, be sure to say thank you and realize this is a big favor and one that could save you from a lot of debt when you graduate college.
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