Scholarships: Reference Letters
Contact potential references now to see if they are willing to write letters, or be contacted by phone when needed. Think of teachers, counselors/advisors, coaches, employers/supervisors, community leaders, etc. who know you well.
- There are two types of recommendation letters: confidential and open. A confidential recommendation is often sent by the reference directly to the scholarship committee, or may be in a sealed envelope with the reference's signature across the seal. Be sure to submit the type of recommendation letter that is requested in the application.
- Make copies of all open recommendation letters for your portfolio.
- A good recommendation letter appears professional (typed, grammatically correct, correct spelling).
- Ask your reference to comment on – and provide specific examples of – characteristics most relevant to the scholarship; for example, motivation, leadership, integrity, judgment, responsibility, honesty, diligence, common sense, potential in career field, academic ability, and other qualities that make you a successful student, future contributor to society, and a good investment as a scholarship recipient.
- Provide your reference with information on your activities, accomplishments, life experiences, goals, and, of course, relevant information about the scholarship criteria. This could be in the form of a resume, personal statement/essay, or activities chart.
- Tell references what you hope they might include in the letter. Be specific.
- It is beneficial (often required) to have recommendations from instructors, especially teachers who have known you over time.
- Sometimes the application specifies exactly who should write a recommendation letter.
- Make the request at least 2 weeks in advance of when you need the letter, and collect letters by the required deadlines.Avoid using general recommendation letters, or letters written for another scholarship opportunity. Request that your reference write a specific letter to the organization.
- If references must mail letters, supply them with an addressed, stamped envelope.
- Send your reference a thank you note and let them know the outcome of your application.