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How to Get Excellent Letters of Recommendation[1]

When it comes to scholarship applications, one crucial component often stands out: the letter of recommendation. Nearly all scholarship programs require at least one, and some even ask for two or three! Entrusting such a significant portion of your application to someone else might feel daunting, but with the right approach, you can increase your chances of getting outstanding letters of recommendation. Let’s explore some strategies to help you navigate this part of the scholarship process.

Choose the Right People

You need someone to vouch for you, but not just anyone will do. Scholarship committees want to hear from adults who know you well but who can also offer an unbiased perspective. Think about people in your life who fit the bill – teachers, coaches, mentors, supervisors, or community leaders. These folks should understand your character, achievements, and ambitions well. Avoid relatives, as their opinions might be seen as biased.

Ask for Help

Now that you’ve got your shortlist of potential recommenders, it’s time to make your move. Reach out to them at least two weeks before the deadline to give them ample time to write you a stellar letter. Be clear about what you need and when, whether it’s a casual chat in the hallway or a quick email. Remember, it’s all about setting expectations and giving them the info they need to help you.

Support Your Recommenders

Alright, so your recommenders agreed to write you a glowing letter – nice work! But why stop there? Help them help you by providing all the necessary tools and info. Offer them a copy of the scholarship application so they know your goals. Remember to share a detailed resume highlighting your achievements, extracurricular activities, and other relevant details. This makes their job much easier and ensures they can sing your praises loud and clear.


Once you’ve requested and provided all the necessary materials, don’t just sit back and relax. Stay in touch with your recommenders throughout the process. Check in with them once or twice before the deadline to see how things are progressing and if they need additional info. A little nudge here and there can go a long way toward ensuring they stay on track and submit their letter on time.

There you have it, seniors! With these tips in your back pocket, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the challenge of securing those all-important letters of recommendation.

By Jeannine Phelan