Most scholarship applications require students to submit letters of recommendation. These letters provide the review boards with a perspective on the personality and attributes of the applicant. For example, a letter of recommendation from a high school teacher could describe the student's scholastic abilities and dedication to learning. A letter from a respected athletics coach or an employer might discuss a student's inherent discipline, determination and willingness to learn new skills. Your letter of recommendation will allow the review board to weigh your application against all others, a ultimately help the choose a prospective scholarship winner.
Lets take a moment to discuss your letters of recommendation, and the ways in which you can ensure that they present you in a positive light.
When considering your letters of recommendation, approach someone for which you have a high degree of personal respect. It can be a teacher, coach or employer. Select an individual who knows you well, and can speak to your finer qualities and abilities. Depend on people with whom you have a good rapport, and who will speak positively about you as a student and as an individual.
While every aspect of your scholarship application is important, your letter of recommendation is the only chance the review board has to judge your true character.
When approaching someone to supply a letter of recommendation for you, try to help your letter writer as much as possible. Provide them with a copy of the scholarship application forms, and supply them with a summary of what the scholarship is for. Also provide the author with a stamped and addressed envelope in which they can send the letter once it is completed. Do all you can to make the letter of recommendation process easy for the person you have chosen.
It can be difficult to present someone you respect and look up to with a hard and fast deadline. But scholarship review boards do not allow for lateness, so it is important to impress upon your letter writers that there is a deadline for your application. Give them plenty of time, at least a month or more, to craft the letter. Follow up with the author a couple of weeks before the application deadline to see if the letter has been submitted. There is no need to be pushy, but a friendly reminder will help keep the scholarship process on track.
When choosing someone to supply you with a letter of recommendation, rely on those individuals who can write well. While this may seem an obvious point, it needs to be noted. Not all people possess the same level of writing skills, and you should select someone who can reason well and articulate their positions clearly. Letters of recommendation do not necessarily need to be elegant or artistic, but they should be well considered and solidly presented.
Try to match the letter of recommendation with the scholarship itself. For example, if you are applying for an athletic scholarship, a letter of recommendation from your high school coach will have more relevance than a letter from an employer. It is always best to select writers who not only know you well, but are knowledgeable about the field in which the scholarship is being offered.
When it comes to scholarships, you may very well find yourself applying for more than one. So you should always stay on your letter writers’ good side, you may very well need them to write another letter for you in the future. Once your letters of recommendation have been submitted, be sure to thank the authors personally and in writing. They have done you a very real service, and thanking them formally shows that you recognize that they have taken some of their valuable time in order to help you achieve you college dream.