Home > Financial Aid > College Scholarships > Scholarship Application Strategies > The Scholarship Letter of Recommendation

The Scholarship Letter of Recommendation

Without a doubt, I think the most important factor when acquiring a letter of recommendation is asking the appropriate person for this potentially valuable document. Apparently this is a primary issue, not only to me but to other scholarship providers as well, as a recent conversation with a fellow scholarship provider confirmed. It’s pretty simple to those of us in the field: "Don’t ask someone to recommend you for something about which they know nothing”. Essentially, when scholarship providers ask you for a letter of recommendation, they are asking for a written backing of your "self-nomination" and usually it is just one other opinion they seek, so don’t have Uncle Freddy the electrician vouch for you, OK? Below are some pointers that could help any student in need of a letter of recommendation.

Ask the Most Appropriate Person Available

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.

Be Punctual & Considerate

Don’t wait until the last minute and give the person helping you out 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/supplier of this letter if they would be willing to help you out.

All But Write it For Them...OK, Write it For Them

Give your recommender enough material so that it will be quick and easy for them to oblige. Alternatively, as a colleague recently suggested to me, 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.

Request the Letter is Printed on Your Recommender's Letterhead

Just to give your letter the authenticity the scholarship provider is likely to desire, have your recommender put the letter on their letterhead.

Bring Materials - and That Includes Stamps

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.

Mind Your Manners

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.

Latest College & Financial Aid News

College Professor Canned for Cussing

January 16, 2018

by Susan Dutca

A federal judge dismissed a civil rights lawsuit by a former LSU professor fired in 2015 for using vulgar language in her classroom. The formerly-tenured education professor alleged that LSU violated her First Amendment free speech rights and that their sexual harassment policies are unconstitutional. [...]

Berkeley Battling for Release of Luis Mora

January 9, 2018

by Susan Dutca

The University of California, Berkeley is working to end the detention of one of its undocumented students who was detained by the Department of Homeland Security after allegedly overstaying his visa. The university's chancellor and student activists are keen on "taking all appropriate actions to support the student's interests so that he may continue his studies and his life as a valued member of [the] community." [...]

Drexel Prof Resigns One Year After "White Genocide" Tweet

January 2, 2018

by Susan Dutca

A Drexel University Professor who tweeted, "All I want for Christmas is white genocide," recently resigned after a year of "enduring unrelenting harassment and death threats for his controversial tweets." According to Professor Ciccariello-Maher, the tweet was meant to be satirical, stating that white genocide is an "imaginary concept" used by the far right to scare white people. [...]