The competition for scholarship programs is very intense, so if a high school teacher, college professor or other individual is asked to write a scholarship recommendation letter, he or she should take the request very seriously. The letter could make the difference whether the student receives the scholarship or not. The person who is to write the letter should collect as much information about the scholarship including what qualities they are looking for in a candidate as well as information about the student who requested the recommendation.
A scholarship recommendation letter need not focus on what an outstanding student the candidate is, but should focus on what outstanding qualities the particular student has. Most of the other applicants will be outstanding students, which is why the letter should focus on how this particular student stands above the rest. The letter should make the scholarship interview committee want to meet the applicant.
Above all, scholarship recommendation letters must show that the candidate is the right choice for that particular scholarship. It should be frank, honest, and give details that support why the writer recommends the student. It should also give brief information about the writer. The letter may contain information about the candidate’s exam results, contribution to classroom discussions, personal growth over the years, the effect the candidate has on the writer and the candidate’s peers.
The most important points that a scholarship committee would like to see are:
• Specific information about the candidate that the committee can use during an interview of the candidate
• How the writer knows the candidate and for how long
• Personal interaction with the candidate that is unique to the specific candidate and how the candidate ranks among the writer’s other students
• Specific examples of things the candidate has done and how they relate to the scholarship
• How the candidate exemplifies the selection criteria of the scholarship
• Include remarks from other people who know the candidate
Some things that make the letter weak are:
• Failure to provide specific examples
• Letters that are generic and could be sent for any candidate
• Summaries of the candidate’s work without their grade or rank
• Too much focus on how the writer knows the candidate and not enough focus on the student’s accomplishments
• Unsupported praise
• Faint praise or back-handed compliments
There may be some reasons why a teacher or other individual may not want to write a recommendation letter for a particular student. If this is the case, the person should decline to write the letter. He or she can help the student find another referee.
A person may want to decline if:
• They don’t know the student well
• The student behaves in an unprofessional manner
• They cannot emphatically support the student as a candidate
The writer should check the recommendations of the scholarship board in case the letter and other forms need to be submitted online. Most foundations will not consider letters that are not submitted according to the foundation’s guidelines. Below is a sample scholarship recommendation letter. It should be written in formal business-letter style and addressed to the scholarship committee or board. It is recommended to send the letter by certified mail to be sure it was received.
Sample Recommendation Letter for Scholarship
Name of Sender
Address of Sender
City, State, Zip Code
Name of Scholarship
Address of Selection Committee
City, State, Zip Code
RE: Recommendation of Name of Student for Name of Scholarship for English Literature Students
This letter is a formal recommendation of Name of Student for the Name of Scholarship for English Literature Students. I have taught English to Name of Student for the past three years, and she was an enthusiastic learner throughout. I consider her to be one of my two best students in my 15 years of teaching English at Name of School. She has excelled in both grammar and literature, and I believe she will be and exemplary student in this field. I worked closely with her while she headed the Book Club discussions that covered the themes and characters of a wide variety of books.
Name of Student has not only worked hard at school, she has also been financially responsible for her education. She works part-time jobs to pay for tuition and textbooks. While excelling in language studies, she has also become captain of the Chess Club and has mentored her juniors in playing chess as well as speaking English. She also takes time each week to tutor students in English as a Second Language.
I highly recommend Name of Student for your scholarship because I strongly believe she will make her college, teachers and the scholarship committee proud, if she is given this chance.
I can be reached at Phone Number or as Email Address if you have any questions about Name of Student. Thank you for considering her candidacy.
Signature of Sender
Printed Name of Sender
By Andre Bradley