According to Jessica Marinaccio, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid at Columbia University, scholarship reference or recommendation letters are important to the admission process and to a student getting a scholarship. A reference letter for scholarship helps an institution to determine the quality of a student’s character and his achievements which goes a long way in helping the school decide whether to award a scholarship to a student or not. A scholarship Reference letter can be written by a student’s guardian, mentor, school teacher, counselor or employer, and should detail certain information regarding the student’s behavior and defining qualities.
When and Where a Reference Letter is Required?
Reference or recommendation letters are usually needed when a student is applying for a scholarship, an academic grant or when applying for enrollment into a school. The basic reason behind why schools require a recommendation letter is to gain deeper insight into the content of character of a prospective student.University and colleges use the information provided in the letter to have a better appreciation of the prospect as a whole person’. Reference letters provide details of a student that cannot be gleaned from his/her academic records, test scores and grades.
Who Should Write You a Scholarship Reference Letter?
Recommendation letters should come from non-academic individuals or your professors who can write about the contributions you are making to the society outside of the classroom. Your professors will be able to comment on your future goals, academic contributions, and research experience that they supervised. For students applying for scholarships to programs that cover graduate school funding, the professors can speak to their preparedness and suitability for the selected programs. It is usually advised that you select the professors who know you the best, particularly those whom you have engaged with severally.
If you decide to choose a non-academic individual to write you the letter, make sure that you select someone who is directly related to the contributions you have made outside of the classroom. For instance, if you have been volunteering to a non-profit organization, it would be best to ask the director/supervisor of the organization to write you the recommendation letter provided that they can make first-hand comments concerning your contributions. Other non-academic individuals who are usually accepted to write recommendation letters include religious leaders, athletic coaches, etc.
Note that recommendation letters should not be from family members or your close friends.
How to Request Someone to Write You a Scholarship Recommendation Letter
When asking someone to write you a scholarship recommendation letter, it is advisable to do the following to ensure you get the best recommendation letters possible both for now and in the future:
- Start Early: Basically, you should contact your recommender 3-4 weeks before the letters are due. Most people have busy schedules, and you want to afford them enough time for them to agree to write you the letter. Rushing them may lead to a recommendation that is not as polished or as positive as you may want it to be.
- Choose Well: Request recommendation letters from those who know you well, since they will be better equipped to write a compelling recommendation letter for you.
- Provide Helpful Information: It is recommended that you meet with your potential recommender(s) in person and them with some information to them. Particularly, you should provide them with enough information about the scholarship and the broad goals of the program, your reason for applying for the scholarship, what you are looking to accomplish through your education and career, your resume, and a copy of your transcripts. It is important that you provide accurate deadlines and procedures for how they will submit the letter.
- Be Gracious: It is important that you follow up with the recommender to thank them for dedicating their time to write letters on your behalf. This will make them feel appreciated and increase the likelihood of them writing you another recommendation letter in the future.
Sample Scholarship Reference Letter
Here is a sample recommendation letter that you can use as a guide toward writing a scholarship reference letter.
(Your full name)
(Date on which the letter is written)
Subject: Reference letter for scholarship
Sir or Dear Scholarship Committee,
I am writing to introduce and recommend (applicant/student name) for the (scholarship name). Currently, I am his/her Counsellor/Teacher at (student’s institution name) and have had the opportunity to work closely with him/her on various programmes and activities both curricular and extracurricular.From the very first day I met him/her, (student’s name) impressed me with his/her aptitude to learn, grasp and articulate different concepts in and out of the classroom. (Student’s name) ability to conceptualize academic assignments and bring innovation to problem solving has endeared him/her to me as I now see him/her as a rising light in the field of literary appreciation and criticism which happens to be his/her key area of interest.
It is my candid opinion that based on (student’s name) sterling qualities, he/she is the right candidate for your scholarship which normally should go to the student that possesses the highest academic and leadership potentials among the applicants. I reiterate with all sense of responsibility that (student’s name) is an embodiment of all these qualities. I would also like to bring to your knowledge that my student was the valedictory speaker at this year’s end of academic year event. Not only was he/she the class choice for speaker, but he/she were instrumental in organizing the event. (Student’s name) also has an excellent academic record which is a testimony of his/her diligence in school work.
Finally, permit me to state here that (student’s name) is a mature, intelligent and goal-oriented young lad who, in my professional estimation, will be a valued addition to your community.I support (student’s name) for this scholarship without any reservations.
Be rest assured of my highest regards.
(Name and signature)
Examples & Templates (Free Downloads)
Contents of Scholarship Reference Letter
After going through the details of the student’s strengths, qualifications, and meaningful anecdotes to win the scholarship, you can start writing the letter.
The first point to cover in a scholarship reference letter is the reason why the student is applying for the scholarship. This should detail why the referee believe the prospect is deserving of the scholarship. Just like any other recommendation letter, make sure to state whom you are recommending, how you know them and in what contexts, and what qualifies you to give the recommendation.
Secondly, the letter should highlight intrinsic qualities pertaining to the student; the student’s passion, interest, and whatever special achievements that they have accomplished.
Body of the letter:
Once you’ve included all the required information on your introduction (a strong statement of support and an overview of who you are and how well you know the student), you can then proceed to your recommendation. Make sure to properly highlight the student’s strengths, again, making sure to tailor your recommendation to the specific scholarship.
Your Contact Information:
At the end of the recommendation letter, provide your contact information and invite the recipient of the letter to get in touch with you should they have any further questions regarding the student or the information provided.