How to Get a Great Scholarship Recommendation Letter
Letters of recommendation are an essential part of many scholarship applications. They provide a way for the scholarship award committee to learn about you from people who know you personally, and can vouch for your academic abilities and your suitability for your chosen college or university program.
Recommendation letters, also known as reference letters, can have a significant effect on your chances of winning a scholarship, so it’s important to understand how to get the best letter you possibly can.
These four tips will help ensure you receive a great recommendation letter:
Ask Someone Who Knows You Well
You want to be sure and ask for recommendation letters from people who know you well. However, you should not ask family members or close friends, since a scholarship committee will not consider these letters to be impartial.
Your best option is to ask teachers, employers, the leader of your church/temple/mosque, or another community organization. You want someone who can speak to your academic skills and how they will relate to your studies, and who can talk about your personal qualities that make you a deserving recipient of the scholarship.
Give Them Lots of Time to Write
Chances are, anyone you ask for a letter will be busy, and might even have multiple letter requests, so it’s important to give them at least 3-4 weeks notice before the scholarship deadline when you ask for your letter.
This ensures that they will have lots of time to complete the letter and either send it directly to the scholarship committee, or return it to you. This is also to make sure they don’t have to rush and can take the time to write a positive and detailed letter.
Provide All the Details of the Scholarship
Asking someone to write you a letter isn’t enough on its own. To get a letter that best demonstrates why you’re ideal for the scholarship, it’s vital to provide all the details the letter writer will need to know.
The information you should provide your letter writer includes details of the scholarship and its requirements, info about your school and program of study, as well as a sample of your writing or other work, depending on the scholarship.
This way, the letter writer will be able to highlight the right aspects of your qualifications.
Remember to Express Your Thanks
Always follow up with your letter providers to express your thanks for their willingness to give you a recommendation. Not only is this polite, but it will leave things on a good note that can be useful if you ever need to ask them for another letter or reference in the future.
Handwritten thank you notes are the best way to let them know, as it is personal and shows that you value their help. It’s also a nice touch for you to update them after receiving the scholarships you applied for.