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 Students Expected to Vote in Record Numbers in Midterm Election

November 6, 2018

by Susan Dutca

Research indicates that college students are expected to vote in record numbers in today's midterm election, in stark contrast to the nation's lowest youth turnout and voter registration in 2014. While forty percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say they will "definitely vote" in the midterm elections, "doesn't mean they'll actually cast a ballot on Election Day." Here are a few of the issues in higher education on which voters will have a say: [...]

Graduate Students' "Fight for $15"

October 30, 2018

by Susan Dutca

Photo courtesy of The Nation

Graduate student assistants across the nation are pushing for a $15 per hour stipend, which they believe is a "minimum living wage." Graduate students have attributed the 29 percent stipend increase at Emory University to their successful campus advocacy. [...]

Could Federal Redefining of Gender Identity Cause "Administrative Chaos"?

October 23, 2018

by Susan Dutca

The Trump administration's consideration in defining gender as a biological condition determined by a person's gender at birth could cause "administrative chaos" at universities which employ Obama-era rules, where "there's no test" to "prove that a person is a certain gender." [...]