Tips for Successful Recommendations

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throughout the year, we will be posting scholarship tips gleaned from scholarship providers and scholarship recipients to help you navigate the scholarship application journey.  Many scholarships require a recommendation submitted by an educator or other professional on your behalf to support your application.  Below are some tips to make that process go more smoothly.

Selecting a recommender:

Start to build a network of teachers, counselors, principals, and employers who are familiar with you. Good examples of people to ask for references and recommendations include past or present teachers/professors, past or present employers, religious leaders, community leaders, and organization leaders.  The person you ask to recommend you should know you personally and should be able to attest to specific qualifications outlined in the scholarship requirements, i.e., financial need, GPA, community service, leadership roles, etc.  They should be able to write about or evaluate your character, commitment, experiences and successes. If you are homeschooled, you need to submit a recommendation from someone other than your parent.

Note: If you are asked to provide a recommender's name and contact information as a reference on an application, be sure to let the recommender know.

Follow directions.  Some scholarship applications allow for multiple recommenders and some do not.  Read the instructions carefully and provide the appropriate information and deadline for recommenders with plenty of lead time for them.  Teachers are very busy people.  They will also appreciate a polite reminder before the deadline.

Some scholarships require a particular form for an evaluator to submit, often online.  If so, be sure to provide the correct link for the recommender or if appropriate, the correct printed form with directions on submitting.  If the applicant is allowed to submit the recommendation with the application, be sure it is included.  Also, provide the recommender with relevant contact information if they have problems submitting the recommendation or questions about it.

Follow up:
If you receive a scholarship, make sure to let the recommender know.  Even if you are not selected for a scholarship, always show your appreciation to your recommenders with a thank you note.