Recommendation Letters

How to Secure a Great Scholarship Recommendation Letter

If you are beginning your scholarship search, you have no doubt come across programs that require an application, a copy of your transcript, and one or more essays. These are common items for most scholarship programs, but many of the larger, more prestigious awards also require another document – the scholarship recommendation letter. Although similar to college admission recommendation letters, this additional component of your scholarship application can often play a vital part in moving your name from the rejection pile to the contenders’ list. With thousands of dollars often on the line, it’s not something that should be handled lightly; it takes some thought and a little planning to ensure you receive a recommendation that will stand out among the other applicants. If you want to secure a winning scholarship recommendation letter, consider the following tips.

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Who, What and Why

The Five W’s of College Scholarships

Most students and parents know that scholarships are an important part of the college financial aid process, but few may really understand how they differ from other types of aid. Unlike grants, loans and work-study programs, scholarships can sometimes be a bit more complex and elusive. Students cannot simply complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and expect scholarship money to appear magically; it takes a bit more work and creativity to win those coveted awards. Just as every good journalism student knows to include the “who, what, when, where and why” in every article, so too should every college student understand the five W’s of scholarships. In this article, I’ll break down each “W” and give students the keys to finding and winning scholarships!

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Scholarship Essay Flaws

3 Fatal Flaws That Will Ruin Your Scholarship Essay

I have had the privilege to sit on several scholarship committees over the years, but lately it seems as though fewer students are actually reading the guidelines before they submit their applications. I don’t know if they believe that the winners are chosen at random or that no one is actually reading the essays, but after reviewing a recent stack of submissions, I’ve come to the conclusion that many students are simply too lazy to follow directions. Just like most things in life, scholarships come with rules. I know most students abhor them, but scholarship providers don’t simply give away money because students ask nicely for it; providers want to know that the investment they are making is a good one and that’s where scholarship guidelines play a part. If students are unwilling to spend the time needed to review the rules and submit a quality essay, they probably won’t be willing to go above and beyond in college, either. Although that may not be the case for all students, it’s the rationale used by many providers to weed out possible contenders. In general, three fatal flaws that continue to keep most students from reaching the coveted finalists pool.

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Scholarship Tips for Parents

A Parent’s Guide for Helping Students Win Scholarships

Are you expecting your child to use scholarships to help fund her education? If so, you need to take an active role in your child’s scholarship strategy and help her create a solid plan. Before you begin, however, it’s important that you set realistic expectations. Very few students receive enough scholarships to cover all of their expenses, so be sure you have a plan that includes other funding, such as savings accounts, 529 plans and income from other sources. The most important thing is to start early; waiting until senior year puts your child at a disadvantage and may reduce her college options. I suggest implementing a plan in the fall of your child’s freshman year of high school, as this will help her develop good habits over time and increase her chances of winning. Here are a few suggestions for helping your child create an effective scholarship plan.

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Scholarship Tips

5 Tips for Winning Scholarships

In the past, I have written several posts advising students on how to write a scholarship essay, debunking scholarship myths and how to know if a scholarship program is legitimate. Although these articles give students the basic foundation they need to successfully navigate the world of college scholarships, I find that many still want to know one very specific thing… How do students win a scholarship? There really is no black and white answer, as most providers have their own set of criteria for choosing a scholarship winner, but students may want to consider these suggestions to increase their chances of making it into the finalist pool.

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