Writing a Recommendation Letter for Scholarship Application

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 25, 2022

Published May 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Along with your savings, a scholarship can help fund your education and cover your student living expenses. When applying for one, you typically require a recommendation letter that can impress a scholarship committee and position you as an ideal recipient. Understanding the purpose of a recommendation letter and how to get one can improve your chances of earning the scholarship you want. In this article, we discuss why submitting a recommendation letter for scholarship applications is essential, outline who you can ask to write one, explain how to request a recommendation letter, and answer frequently asked questions.

Why is a recommendation letter for scholarship applications essential?

Here are various reasons you might require a recommendation letter for scholarship applications:

Highlights your skills

Many awarding organizations look for specific skills in scholarship candidates. While it's essential you outline these qualities in the application documents you write, a recommendation can verify your statement. For example, suppose a scholarship committee values candidates with excellent leadership and communication skills. You can support your claims by requesting a recommendation letter from an individual who witnessed your leadership and communication qualities.

Endorses your character

A recommendation letter can offer more insights into your personality traits. It can also help a scholarship committee evaluate whether your core values and morals align with those of the awarding organization. Core values are beliefs, ideas, and practices influencing your behaviour. By having an individual endorse your character, committee members can become more convinced that you can effectively use the financial aid or award.

Describes your motivation

A recommendation letter can also confirm what inspired your scholarship application. For example, suppose you're an international student from a developing country. A scholarship committee might better understand the reason for your application by reading a support letter from a teacher or employer. This letter can also serve as a testimony of your work ethic and passion for your chosen field.

Expresses confidence in your future success

Because scholarships are investments in your education, many awarding organizations want a guarantee that you can succeed in your chosen field. A compelling recommendation letter from an individual who understands your abilities can improve confidence in your future success. It's crucial these letters are direct and focused on your achievements and consistency.

Who can you ask for a letter of recommendation?

Consider asking the following individuals to help you write a recommendation letter:

A teacher or professor

Depending on your educational level, a teacher or a professor can be great options to ask for a recommendation letter. For example, if you're in high school, you can request a recommendation letter from a teacher with whom you have a positive relationship. Educators typically have practical knowledge of your academic achievements and potential to succeed in a program.

Related: How to Ask Your Professor for a Letter of Recommendation

A manager or mentor

Consider asking your manager or mentor to write a recommendation letter that endorses your work ethic, character, and talents. It can help if these professionals are knowledgeable about your chosen educational field or a similar discipline. This way, they can make the scholarship recommendation letter more impactful. You can also consider previous supervisors and team leads.

Related: Graduate School Letter of Recommendation From an Employer

A colleague or classmate

Your professional network can also help you write recommendation letters. It can help if these individuals have practical experience working with you and provide qualifications for credibility. They can also verify your expertise if it's an essential factor for scholarship committees.

An industry professional

Consider an experienced professional that's popular in your field. Letters from industry leaders might be more effective in getting committee members' interests, especially if your advocate made previous recommendations. For example, suppose you work in health care and require a scholarship recommendation letter for graduate school. You can ask a medical institute's director to help write one if you recently established a relationship with them.

How to request a scholarship recommendation letter

If you're applying for a scholarship, you can follow these steps to request a letter of recommendation:

1. Identify your advocates

Determining individuals who can provide an objective and compelling recommendation is typically the first step. You can create a list, especially if the scholarship application requires multiple recommendation letters. It's also crucial you consider your association with the individual and review the scholarship's guidelines.

2. Schedule meetings

Next, you can schedule a meeting with your best recommenders to discuss the scholarship opportunity and express your hope of receiving their recommendation. Consider in-person or virtual meetings, depending on the individual's preference and availability. It's also essential you choose a convenient time, which can show respect. When scheduling a meeting, you can provide basic details, such as the scholarship name and why you're applying for it.

3. Provide scholarship and personal information

During your meeting, you can explain more about the scholarship opportunity and your motivation. Application requirements typically vary, so it's essential you provide specific information about the scholarship. For example, there might be page limits for recommendation letters or a form to fill before submitting one. Conveying this information and personal details can help the person recommending you write a persuasive letter that follows all application requirements. They may discuss your career growth, provide examples of your work, or highlight your achievements.

Related: How to Request a Graduate School Letter of Recommendation

4. Show your appreciation

It's essential you express your gratitude to your advocates for writing a scholarship recommendation letter for you. Crafting one is typically voluntary and can show they care about your academic success. Consider sending a thank-you letter or email to foster a positive relationship with them.

Read more: 15 "Thank You for Your Help" Examples (And Why It Matters)

FAQs about scholarship recommendation letters

Here are helpful answers to common questions about requesting scholarship recommendation letters:

Can you write a scholarship recommendation letter?

Many scholarship committees request an independent perspective of your skills, character, and qualifications. Depending on the individual you meet for a letter, you may write the first draft and send it for edits. For example, if someone you've asked to recommend you has an emergency, they may ask you to start the writing process. In these situations, it's essential you maintain professionalism and objectivity.

What is the difference between a recommendation letter and a reference letter?

A reference letter is a commendation of your character, work ethic, or abilities. It can confirm that a referee knows you and can verify professional information on your application documents. A recommendation letter highlights the qualifications that make you an ideal candidate for a scholarship opportunity. These letters typically provide examples from professional and personal experiences and explain how those situations relate to the scholarship program or position.

What tips can help you get the scholarship you want?

The following practices can increase the likelihood of getting the partially- or fully-funded scholarship you want:

  • Request recommendation letters early to offer your contacts sufficient time to write them.

  • Ensure you follow up with the people who've recommended you to confirm they submitted the letter.

  • Aim to meet all application deadlines.

  • Consider your competition by reflecting on ways to present yourself as a unique candidate.

  • Research qualities the scholarship committee values.

  • Network with current scholarship recipients to learn how they navigated the application process.

  • Consider attending scholarship workshops.

  • Proofread application documents for errors and make edits if required.

  • Consider applying for multiple scholarships.

  • Ask for help or more clarity from the scholarship committee whenever required.

Related: Why Is Networking Important? (With Benefits and Tips)

What other documents can help you get a scholarship?

Aside from a recommendation letter, a scholarship committee may also request the following documents:

  • Academic transcript: This is a detailed record of your coursework and grades from your current or previous school. You typically require a copy of this document.

  • Resume: This refers to a document describing your career objective, academic qualifications, experience, skill set, and relevant credentials. You can include these sections on a page or two, at the most.

  • Standardized test scores: Many schools require you to take language and industry-specific tests to evaluate your experience and academic background. You can clarify the test scores you require for acceptance into an educational program.

  • Statement of purpose: A statement of purpose (SOP) is a document that can inform admissions committees on your professional interests, motivation, academic background, and value to an educational program. If well-written, your SOP can leave a lasting impression and help you get the scholarship.

Can you secure a scholarship before gaining admission?

Gaining admission is typically necessary before you can apply for a scholarship. If the educational institution also awards scholarships, you may pursue both goals at the same time. Aim to follow all scholarship conditions during your academic program as a recipient.

Related: How To Write a Request Letter (With Tips and Examples)

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