Sample Letter of Recommendation for a Scholarship
In a traditional application packet for a scholarship, students are asked to provide details about how well they’ve done in school so far, and what they’d like to do in order to advance their knowledge in the future. These little bits of data can help administrators to get a feel for the student’s hopes and dreams, and that might allow them to make a good decision about who should get a scholarship.
But letters of recommendation also play an important role. These votes of confidence from people who have interacted with the student can help administrators to understand the applicant on a deeper level, and the information provided here could help to tip the scales and get that student the money needed for academic success.
Letters of recommendation typically follow this basic outline:
- A salutation, such as “Dear selection committee.”
- An introduction, in which the relationship between the writer and the student is made clear.
- Body copy, in which the writer outlines the reason that the student should be considered for the scholarship
- A summary, in which all the points above are reiterated and words of thanks for consideration are utilized
- A signature, along with contact information
In addition to containing all of these elements, a formal letter of recommendation should be composed on a computer and printed out on paper. These are formal documents, and they should be treated as such.
It can be tempting to think of letters of recommendation as standard, basic elements that students must include, and that the administrators will ignore. However, research suggests that administrators take these letters quite seriously. For example, in an article produced by The New York Times, college administrators suggest that recommendations are always read, and that good recommendation letters often help administrators to look favorably upon an applicant. Since these letters are so important, students should ensure that the letters they get are as well written and professional as they can possibly be.
A sample letter for the Mitchell Scholarship demonstrates a well-crafted and favorable recommendation. Here, the writer is unafraid to use words like “outstanding,” “advanced” and “fascinating” in order to describe a student, and the letter provides an extensive amount of detail about the courses the student has taken in the past and how well that student performed in those courses.
Just copying this letter and asking a teacher to replace the student’s name with another isn’t a great idea, however, as the best scholarship letters tend to be both original and customized. For example, sample letters provided by Willamette University demonstrate a remarkable degree of variation, both in tone and in content. Looking through these examples can help students to understand the amount of flexibility involved in these letters.
Students aren’t generally allowed to write their scholarship letters and ask their teachers to sign them. But there are some things students can do in order to ensure that the writing process goes as smoothly as possible. Students might compile a list of their achievements, for example, or they might provide copies of prior assignments the teacher has graded. Students might also provide details about the scholarship in question and remain open to any questions from the writer.