Scholarships are special awards provided to students based on a complete list of criteria like merit, financial position, presentation, membership, residential status, etc. While applying for a scholarship, students have to signify the minutest details. Sometimes, along with educational documents, candidates must submit a personal narrative, subjective essay, and letter of recommendation. 

If a letter of recommendation from a guidance counselor accompanies your scholarship application, it holds more preference over applications without such recommendations. Such letters can often make the difference between who gets awarded and who gets left out.

If you’re planning to apply for a scholarship sometime soon, you might want to ask your counselor at school to write such a letter. And if you’re unsure of how to go about it, this article is here to help. Here, we will delve deeper into the tips and tricks to develop compelling letters of recommendation targeted to achieve college scholarships.

Let’s get started.

Purpose of Recommendation Letters in Scholarship Applications

Few colleges and universities specifically ask for a letter of recommendation to be accompanied by the college scholarship application. And although others may not, it is always advisable to attach at least one such letter in your application. Providing the letter might be the fastest way for your application to land up in the approval pile. 

Usually, teachers, professors, counselors, lawyers, employers, colleagues, clients, or other significant people in the student’s life, write a recommendation letter. The letter can create a high impact on winning a scholarship. Thus, the person who writes such a letter must invest a lot of time and effort into creating it.

The letter often proves to be a testament to the student’s achievements. Many times, it serves to be a reflection of the student as a multi-dimensional personality. It also aids as a complement and describes who the student is and why he/she deserves the award. So the ideal motive of a recommendation letter is to vouch for the aptitude, attitude, achievements, goals, and skills of the student.

Key Points to Remember for a Recommendation Letter

  • Be proactive

The first and foremost point to remember is that you don’t want to wait until the last minute to get your hands on the letters of recommendation. You have to ask people to complete them on time, but it should be completely convenient. When you think about a letter of recommendation, you must find the right people to complete them for you. You should ideally ask at least five people. Most college scholarship applications have guidelines for a minimum of three letters, but you must be resourceful in case you need more. People you can refer to can include a boss, co-worker, friend, teacher, or Church member. You should request for the favor from a variety of individuals with whom you hold great relationships.

  • Express the reason for the letter

When you ask someone to complete a letter of recommendation for you, express why you need one. Most people will be more than happy and interested in helping you with your college scholarship applications. You need to make sure that you set your expectations, in the beginning, to get the desired letters from them. A personal interview, one-to-one discussion, a complete list of guidelines, and a lot of patience is required for great results.

  • What the Recommender should keep in mind:
  • What information should go in the letter

The recommender has the primary responsibility of collecting all information about you and brainstorming on all ideas before framing the letter. He/she should first know the root cause of this activity, that is, the reason you seek the scholarship. The signatory of the recommendation letter may praise you for your academic as well as personal qualities. Your achievements and goals can be the target points here. It is better if you get them a written list of everything they require for writing. Ideally, provide them with the complete details by discussing with them, so that they can write a full-fledged story about you.

  • Main parts of the letter

Several simple templates may be available for the letter of recommendation. Usually, such templates include a salutation and introduction explaining the relationship between recommender and the student, followed by the body of the letter, which explains the reason why the student is applying for the scholarship. Post this, there should be a summary reiterating the main points, and finally, each letter should be closed with the recommender’s full name and contact information. The letter should be typed and signed. If the person creating the letter doesn’t type, you can offer to do it for them. Deciding on a deadline for them to complete is also essential.

  • Why they’re writing the letter for you

The recommendation letter carries considerable weight and should be given utmost importance. Such letters should mandatorily explore how long the writers have known you, the relationship they have with you, and why they feel you are deserving of such funding for college. Most scholarships are given to those candidates who show potential commitments and goals. While adding your qualities, the writer can concentrate on compassion, leadership skills, and positive energy. Either need or merit can be the reason behind scholarship attainment. Thus the recommender must highlight your requirement through any example, like your ability to perform and succeed in difficult situations or limited resources.

  • What you should keep in mind:
  • Accuracy

When you get the completed letters of recommendation, make sure you take the time to read over them. You should take care of typing or grammar mistakes in them if any. Should you find such problems, ask the creator to update the letter. They might not feel bad or have any problem to rectify as they realize the value these letters have for your ability to get money for your education.

  • Resourcefulness

It is common for college scholarship applications to ask for several letters of recommendation. Aim for a minimum of five letters from five different people to be resourceful. Make plenty of copies of them and keep them in a safe place. You have to act very responsibly and try not to ask for the letter again from the same person.

  • Creativity

Another point to consider is the themes in your application. Sometimes themes make the letter more appealing and hence stand a chance to impress the committee members. Themes can be related to the chosen subjects. For example, a letter written for business studies related to the scholarship can be more impressive if it has highlights like your interests in the business environment and the people related to business.

  • Appreciation

It is a lovely gesture to send a nice thank you note to the creator of your letters of recommendation. Make sure you show appreciation for them going out of their way to help you. One way to do this is to offer to pick up the letter or recommendation. Then they don’t have the additional errand of getting them to you.

Things that need to be avoided

  • Lukewarm praise

The recommender has to keep in mind that the letter he/she is writing is of great importance. Your application’s success rate depends on what is written in the letter. Generic words to explain your desire for the scholarship or vague terms showing unrealistic qualities might create a negative impact and cause you to lose the opportunity. Therefore, it is a moral and ethical responsibility on the recommender’s shoulders. It would be best if you did not describe to the recommender your achievements that are unrelated to the chosen scholarship. If the person mentions them in the letter, your profile will not show focus. It is crucial to suggest only the related information in the letter.

  • Lack of relevancy

Sometimes, recommendation letters can take a shape that depicts no relevancy of the student to his/her goals of achieving financial aid. Do not indulge in such a mistake. Ensure that your goals and strengths are relevant to what you have applied for, or else, you may lose your chance. Your focus should be on matching pursuits. As specified earlier, unrealistic goals and achievements have no value at all.

In Conclusion

It is irrefutable that recommendation letters are as significant as a resume while applying for a college scholarship. An application may get a real boost with the help of such extra documents. The writer of the letter should focus on tailoring to a specific scholarship program by studying its guidelines and expectations. He/she should also concentrate on highlighting the relevant skills of the concerned student, and emphasizing on the qualities and achievements. Therefore this letter creates an ultimate platform for the student to achieve the required financial aid to complete his/her studies.

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