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Monday, May 21, 2012

6 Tips to Get Amazing Scholarship Reference Letters

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The right references can make or break your scholarship application.

Look at it from the point of view of the scholarship provider: they know you’re only using references who will give you a positive review. That teacher you hated in 10th grade math who gave you an F in that scary red pen? You’re obviously not asking him.

Even if your teacher gave you a D, not an F, you maybe should find a different reference.

So it comes as no surprise that all your references will tell your scholarship provider how great you are. That your references say how great you are is of zero help to your application: the key is to make your references paint such an amazing picture of you the scholarship providers would feel totally stupid not giving you the scholarship. How do you make sure your references write unbelievable referrals for you?

Start with these tips:
  1. Make sure they’re good writers. Do you like their writing?
  2. Consolidate. Tell the reference in advance if you need multiple letters so he or she can do all your letters at once.
  3. Give them your information. Provide each reference with an impressive list of your awards, honors, and activities, particularly as they relate to that scholarship, for the reference to include in his or her letter. 
  4. Give them scholarship information. Tell them what the scholarship is judging you on ( so they can customize the letter to exactly fit what the scholarship providers want. 
  5. Give them specifics. Is the letter supposed to be one page? Addressed to the scholarship providers? Give them all the information they need in a clear bullet-pointed or numbered list. 
  6. Give them time. Three weeks, minimum!
Finally, remember to thank your references profusely, tell them if you won the scholarship, and bring them chocolate and cookies at every possible opportunity. After all, they’re helping you fund college through scholarships.