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Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement Distinguished Scholarships Program

Requesting Letters of Recommendation

To a scholarship committee, strong letters of recommendation represent a reliable third party’s objective appraisal of your potential as a developing contributor to society. Even though it is ultimately up to your recommenders to write these letters, there is still much you can do to make ensure that your letters of recommendation live up to this ideal by making their job as easy as possible.

Provide your recommender with the tools they will need to write you a great letter of recommendation by:

  1. Cultivating a relationship. Get to know your recommender well.
    1. Sit at the front of class.
    2. Ask questions.
    3. Be alert.
    4. Attend office hours.
      1. Use this time to make sure you understand the subject of class well.
      2. Set up an appointment time to discuss your plans and aspirations.
        1. During your college education, do you plan to:
          1. Travel abroad?
          2. Do an internship or two?
          3. Join clubs that interest you?
          4. Apply for scholarships:
            1. In your department?
            2. For travel abroad?
            3. Distinguished scholarships?
        2. Discuss your short and long term goals and plans.
  2. Communicating your goals clearly. Let your recommender know why you plan to apply for a scholarship. If you are applying for more than one distinguished scholarship, you must do this for each scholarship as each scholarship has different goals.
    1. What’s special about this scholarship?
    2. How does it fit with your goals and plans?
    3. What qualifies you for this scholarship?
  3. Providing helpful background information on awards. Provide your recommender with a bulleted summary of the scholarship(s) you plan to apply for; this shows that you have done your homework. Include information about the scholarship deadlines and how the recommender will be providing information. Also, don’t forget to include a website for further information.
  4. Making sure they know the details of your accomplishments. Supply your recommender with your resume, but first:
    1. Make sure it includes:
      1. All of your work and volunteer activities since senior year of high school.
      2. All of your awards, scholarships and honors since senior year of high school.
      3. All of your internships, languages, special skills.
    2. Have people you personally know and trust read your resume and make sure you have included all pertinent details. (For example, family and friends may remember accomplishments that you have forgotten about.)
    3. Have your resume reviewed at ASCC in Lighty 180. Get an expert’s opinion of your document.
    4. Ask yourself what you hope your letter writer will say about you for this particular scholarship. Have you done something in particular with your recommender? Be sure to include this in your resume or bulleted list. Don’t assume that letter writers have great memories; do assume that they are very busy people!
  5. Coordinating effectively. Provide the timeline within which you need the recommendation (a month is the shortest amount of time you should expect).
  6. As appropriate, check in by email to remind your recommender about the timeline.
  7. Demonstrating gratitude. DO NOT forget that a handwritten letter of thank you is appropriate once the letter has been submitted. Make sure your recommender knows you appreciate them for the time they took out of their busy schedule to invest in your future.