Letters of recommendation play a vital part in helping students achieve their aspirations. Letters from counselors or mentors can make or break a student’s scholarship application success. Scholarship review panels give heavy consideration to letters submitted.
Given the importance, writing a letter of recommendation can be stressful, especially if the writer isn’t sure what to include or lacks enough information about the student to give an adequate evaluation.
Here are some easy-to-follow guidelines for generating a letter of recommendation that will impress any scholarship application review committee.
Purpose of a Letter of Recommendation
The purpose of a letter of recommendation is to lift the scholarship application off the page and bring them to life. Scholarship award committees rely on these letters to provide details about the student that are otherwise unavailable. Character traits, personal interactions, stories of perseverance, and challenges overcome are examples of information that don’t lend themselves to test scores, report cards, or academic awards.
Letters of recommendation also serve as honest, independent evaluations of a student’s strengths and weaknesses. As such, it is important to be candid, albeit gracious, when providing feedback regarding a student.
What to Include in a Letter of Recommendation
It can be challenging to know exactly what to include in a letter of recommendation. Generally, letters should consist of at least these four elements.
- Summary of Qualifications
- Connection with the Student
- Student Evaluation
- Personal Contact Information
Every letter of recommendation should begin with an introduction and summary of the writer’s background and qualifications. Resist the temptation to include more biographical information than necessary. The final letter should highlight the accomplishments of the student, not the author.
Establish your connection with the student right after providing a summary of your qualifications and expertise. Give ample attention to demonstrating a strong relationship with the student.
The majority of the letter should center around a candid evaluation of the student’s strengths and accomplishments. Begin by describing how the student was performing at the time you both met. This will serve as a starting point for the reader to see how the student changed and grew over time.
While it’s important to comment on the student’s academic success and accomplishments, focus mainly on their character, demeanor, growth, development, and interactions with others. Try to personalize the evaluation by including examples of situations where the student overcame a significant obstacle. Along with celebrating the student’s successes, offer some examples of weak areas they’ve strengthened. By including strengths along with information about past weaknesses, your letter comes across as more objective.
Equally important is providing an opinion on the student’s likelihood of future success. If the student has any past examples of community involvement or leadership, it could indicate what they might do in the future. Let the scholarship committee know if the student is likely to become a significant contributor or leader in the community.
Conclude the letter with a clear statement of your recommendation and the basis for it. Be sure to include your personal contact information along with an invitation to answer any follow-up questions.
How to Get the Information Needed for A Recommendation Letter
The best way to take the stress out of writing a letter of recommendation is to have plenty of information on hand about the student and the scholarship. Ask students to supply a detailed description of the scholarship and award determination criteria. In addition, also ask for an email copy of their academic resume. It can be a one or two paged document detailing each of the items below.
- Future Goals
- Community Involvement
- Leadership Roles Held
- Special Projects or Initiatives
Having this information on hand makes putting together a stellar letter of recommendation simple.
How to Find More Scholarships for Your Students with Scholar’s App
Writing letters of recommendation takes time and effort, so eliminating none essential tasks on your to-do list is crucial. Thankfully you can offload the task of finding scholarships for your students by utilizing a scholarship app.
Scholar’s App is a time-saving tool that streamlines the scholarship applications process. The platform is an all-in-one solution to find scholarships, submit applications, and track the entire financial aid process. Scholar’s App will only suggest scholarships that precisely match the student’s profile, so there’s no need to read each scholarship description manually.
In addition to making the scholarship application process smoother, the Scholar’s App also tracks the outcome of each scholarship submitted, making results available in live time. Since it is a web-based solution, it can be accessed wherever and whenever needed.
So, if you’re ready to mark one more task off your to-do list, then click here to create your Scholar’s App profile today!