Letter of Recommendation for Scholarship
So you found a scholarship you think you’re a shoe-in for. You have all your required documents except one—a letter of recommendation. What is a letter of recommendation for a scholarship, and how do you go about asking for one?
What is a letter of recommendation?
A scholarship recommendation letter is a letter from a credible adult (usually a teacher, coach, mentor, or supervisor) that completes a form or submits a letter to the scholarship sponsor explaining why the candidate fulfils the requirements set out by the scholarship sponsor, program, or committee and why they believe you (the candidate) should be chosen to receive the award. Depending on the type of scholarship and the scholarship program, this could be the most vital part of the application.
How to ask for a scholarship recommendation letter?
- Choose who you want to ask. Many high school students ask past teachers, counselors, directors, or coaches they’ve had. Some students will ask their work supervisors or other trusted adult (excluding relatives), who know them and can vouch for their character, work ethic, or involvement in extracurricular activities or community service.
- Ask the person face-to-face. It’s always a good idea to ask someone for a letter of recommendation in person. If the person you want to write the letter for you is located far away, you can always send them a formal email or letter asking if they would write a recommendation letter for your scholarship application.
- Set up a meeting with your recommender. At least a month before the scholarship deadline, set aside some time to discuss the scholarship program, the scholarship information, the letter of recommendation guidelines, and what your overall college goals are. This will help them write a letter of recommendation that will show how you adequately fulfill the scholarship requirements
- Write a thank you. Writing a personal and strong letter of recommendation involves time and work. Because of this, it’s a good idea to show your gratitude to the person who recommended you and it’s a nice gesture.
How to write a scholarship recommendation letter
If you’ve been asked to write a recommendation letter for a student, here are some suggestions:
- Make sure you know the student well. Scholarship selection committees are looking for sincere and genuine letters. Having a strong relationship with the candidate can help you draw on personal experiences to help support claims about their character, work ethic, or other reasons.
- Set up a meeting with the student. Allow the student to take the reins to discuss the scholarship and guidelines with you. This meet-up allows you to ask the students any questions you may have such as their future goals and plans so you can tailor the letter.
- How to format the letter. The nature and length of your letter needs to be specific, yet brief. Keep the letter to a single page and remain formal in tone. Your font should remain professional such as Times New Roman or other serif font that is easy to read, and 10-12 point font. Also keep your letter left justified. Many word processing programs have letter layouts that may be useful.
- Decide what you’re going to write about. After gathering the necessary information, find a focus for the letter. Remember this is a formal letter, so along with a salutation, you should also introduce the candidate and explain your relationship with the candidate. Your body paragraphs should be the center of the letter and illustrate how the candidate best fulfills the requirements of the scholarship program. This may be focused on the student’s passion for what they are planning on studying. Maybe it centers around their dedicated work ethic, or how they’ve overcome a hurdle or obstacle in their life. Let this focus guide the tone of the letter.
- Use specific examples. Share how the candidate fulfills the requirements and possesses the qualities that are desired for the scholarship. Use examples to illustrate the growth you have seen in the candidate.