Personal information, essays
and transcripts - these are all fairly standard components of the scholarship
process and the college application procedure. Another common factor, and one
that you may not know much about, is the letter of recommendation. Many
scholarship providers and admissions officers will request that you submit one
or more letters of recommendation to apply for their scholarships or for
entrance to their school(s). As a starting point for gathering those necessary
letters, here is the 'who, what, where and why' of recommendations:
Who should you get a letter of recommendation from?
When you find out you need a letter of recommendation, you may be tempted to run to a
family member (How could your grandma ever say anything bad about you??) or a
friend, but your first choice should probably be a teacher, employer or some
other non-personal acquaintance. Although having a letter of recommendation from
a family member or friend is not a bad thing, most scholarship providers and
educational institutions prefer that you submit at least one letter from someone
who you are not emotionally tied to, as this person will be able to write more
objectively and honestly about your qualifications and strengths.
What should your letter of recommendation say?
scholarship provider or college admission department will tell you what topics
your letter(s) of recommendation should cover. When they don't, it's probably
best to have the letter writer talk about your strengths, his/her relationship
to you, and why he/she feels you would be deserving of the scholarship or
admission. The writer can even provide examples of challenges he/she has seen
you overcome, significant achievements you have made, and initiative you have
taken. The letter of recommendation should be typed, but signed by the letter
writer. Also, it is important that you give the person who is writing the letter
for you plenty of time to write the letter. If he or she feels rushed, the
letter of recommendation might not be as well thought out as you might expect.
Where should you tell your acquaintance to send the letter of
The rules and procedures for each college and for each
scholarship program will vary, so be sure to carefully read the application form
and all instructions about how to send in your letters of recommendation. Some
colleges and scholarship committees prefer that the letter writer send in the
letter of recommendation separately from the application packet, to ensure that
the student did not manufacture his/her own letter. Others prefer that you
include the letter(s) of recommendation with the application packet so they do
not have to worry about having incomplete application packets, but they may
require you to submit the letter inside a sealed, signed envelope to ensure
privacy and validity. Again, the rules vary, so be sure to pay attention to the
fine print when trying to find out where to send in your letter(s) of
Why do you need to submit a letter of recommendation?
scholarship providers and college admission offices want some outside
perspective about the student who is applying for their scholarship or admission
to their school. Before you get annoyed because a letter of recommendation is
another thing you have to worry about, think about the positives. You may be
able to use that letter over and over again. Not only can you use it for other
scholarships you are going to apply for, you may also be able to use it for
college admission, internship positions, and job opportunities. Letters of
recommendation are a great way to showcase your talents and abilities for
scholarship providers and admissions officers. An outside perspective that
acknowledges your accomplishments and strengths can go a long way toward
convincing an organization that you are worthy of admission or deserving of
their scholarship dollars.
For more information about scholarships, return to the
Scholarship Advice section. To find customized scholarships that you can
apply for today, sign up or
login to the ScholarshipExperts.com time-saving scholarship search service.
It's fast, easy and completely free.