Recommendation Letters for Scholarships
At a minimum, most scholarships require at least 1 letter of recommendation. Some scholarship applications will ask students for 3 or more letters of recommendation. In this post, I’ll tell you exactly what steps you need to take to get the recommendation letters needed for scholarships.
Step # 1 – Who’s going to write them?
You must think about who you would like to write your letters of recommendation. You will need several letters of recommendations throughout the scholarship application process. Try to select individuals who can speak to your academic strengths, extracurricular activities, interests, and leadership skills.
If you’ve taken the time to build relationships with your teachers, coaches, mentors, work supervisors, and school counselors over the past few years, then you shouldn’t have a problem coming up with a solid list of recommenders.
Step #2 – Ask Early
As soon as you start searching for scholarships, take out that list of recommenders and ask for their support. Let them know that you plan to apply to several scholarships over the upcoming months and it would be great if they could write one universal letter that could be used over and over again.
Step #3 – Get Recommender’s Contact Information
The scholarship application process can get hectic, so you want to make sure you have the correct contact information for each of your recommenders. If provided with an email, send a confirmation email to the recommender to confirm that you have the correct email address and thank the person in advance for agreeing to help you out with the scholarship application process.
Step #4 – Provide Enough Information
While your recommender may know you well, they may not know about all of your academic achievements or extracurricular involvement. You’ll want to make sure that you provide a summary of your accomplishments and highlights from your high school career to your recommender. This will ensure that the recommender understands what you would like them to emphasize about you in their letter.
If you feel that it would be helpful and you have this information available, then you may want to provide a description of the scholarship that you are applying for.
Step #5 – Set Clear Expectations
Make sure you let your recommenders know when you expect to receive the letter of recommendation. It’s important that you give him or her enough time, but if you are too lenient then the recommender may not consider your recommendation letter to be a priority.
Also, it’s probably best to arrange a time to pick up the letter of recommendation. If the scholarship requires the letter of recommendation to be set directly from the recommender, provide the recommender with a pre-addressed envelope with pre-paid postage.
Step #6 – Send Reminders
It’s likely that your recommenders have busy schedules, so it is possible for them to forget about your letter of recommendation. Don’t take it personally. You should send a reminder email approximately 5 days in advance of the date that you arranged to pick up the letter. This way, if the recommender happened to forget about writing the letter, they still have time to complete it before you stop by to pick it up.
Step #7 – Say Thank You
As soon as you mail in the scholarship application package, send a thank you note or email to your recommender. Explain that you couldn’t have completed the application without them and ask if it’s okay to send additional copies of that same letter for other scholarships. Keeping the communication open will help you in an emergency situation, when you’re in a crunch and you need a letter of recommendation.
If you follow the format above, then you should have no problem getting the recommendation letters needed to apply to multiple scholarships in a short time frame.
Happy Scholarship Hunting!
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