Academic and professional letters of recommendation are decisive in many admission processes for international study programs and several scholarship calls. That is why I will give you the best advice that has helped me and my clients study and win scholarships abroad.
What is a letter of recommendation for Scholarship?
The letters of recommendation or references in academic processes and scholarships are a document in which a third party describes who he is, explains how he knows you and gives the reasons why he recommends you for the respective study or scholarship program.
In this way, the institution or the scholarship provider seeks a second opinion on what you propose, and thus verify your character and your performance. In other words, the main function of the recommendation letter is to corroborate the information you have given in other documents (such as the CV and the Motivation Letter ) and obtain additional information about your profile.
Who should write Recommendation Letter for Scholarship?
Unlike what is generally believed, letters of recommendation need not be written by “important people” such as the dean of the faculty or the general manager of the company with whom you have worked.
Institutions want letters from people who have had direct contact with you and know your personality and performance firsthand. Therefore, when choosing a reference, it is best to opt for professors, thesis supervisors, bosses or in some cases co-workers.
NOTE: These people may not know how to write a letter, want to make sure they give you what you need and / or don’t have the time to write it. Therefore you will be asked to give them guidance and even in some cases that you write recommendation letter and make them read and sign later. Therefore, you can share and / or take into account the following tips:
Header Tips for Recommendation Letter
Recent date: Avoid delivering letters that you have previously requested for other calls and that are generic.
Title or motive: “Letter of Recommendation” or “Reference”
Targeted specifically to the program / scholarship provider: The letter of recommendation must explicitly state for whom it is demonstrating personalization and importance. That is why it is important to avoid things like: “To whom it may concern.” Some good examples are:
- “Colleagues of the Faculty of Economic Sciences …”
- “Members of the admissions committee….”
- “University of ….”
Content Tips for Recommendation Letter
Your letter of recommendation should contain the following elements:
Reason: The person who recommends you explains the reasons why you are going and explicitly mentions the program to which he is recommending you.
Who he is and how he knows you: The person who recommends you should mention his position, the institution he works with and the relationship he has with you. For example:
- “As a teacher of the course of International Relations of the National University …”
- “David was my student for the class of…”
Description of the program or work: It is important that the reference contextualizes the reader about the nature of the program or the work performed by the person whom he recommends. And in this way give it the importance it deserves. For example:
- “The Mechanical Engineering program requires about 20 hours of study …”
- “Teamwork is essential to develop these activities …”
- “It’s a position with a lot of responsibility since …”
The reasons why he recommends you: Very related to the previous one, here the person who recommends you describes your personality, academic and / or professional skills that make you the ideal candidate for the program to which you are applying. For example:
- “Pepe showed … and good handling of… .. ”
- “During the time that Juana worked with me, she stood out for her…. Y ….”
- “I recognize Pepe as a person….,…. Y …..”
- “Joan managed …”
Recommendation reinforcement: In the final part of the letter the person who recommends you should emphasize that you are the right person for the program you are applying with things like:
- “I’m sure Pepe will bring great value to the program of … … and university x”
- “I strongly believe that Juana… ..”
- “He is also … and …”
For more information and dismissal: It is a good idea that the person who recommends you is open to answer questions by the selection committee and therefore must demonstrate it at the end of the letter with things like:
- “For more questions, do not hesitate to contact me”
- “I will be willing to solve the questions you may have”
Tips to get very good letters of recommendation for scholarship
Ask for them in time: The people who are going to write your letter of recommendation will most likely have several responsibilities and therefore will need at least 1 month to write your letter of motivation. Keep that time in mind and the application deadline so you can send all the complete documentation on time.
Share your CV and motivation letter to these people: Ideally, the people who are going to write your letter of recommendation know what you have done and your motivation to be part of the program to which you apply. Therefore it is highly recommended that you meet with them to share your experience and plans, or to share documents such as your curriculum vitae and motivation letter.
For academic recommendation letters: If you graduated more than 2 years ago and have not kept in touch with your professors, you must be very careful in the person you choose to serve as a reference and the way you approach him to ask for it.
You can think of teachers with whom you stood out or with whom you had the greatest contact so that when you contact them and tell them that it is you, they can remember you more easily.
I recommend that before asking anything you make some initial contacts to resume the relationship . You can achieve this through an email, a phone call or even a personal visit to update the person in what you have done during the time that has passed, tell them your plans to continue your studies and ask about their opinion.
Formatting Tips for Scholarship Recommendation Letter
It complies with the guidelines that you are asked for: For example, in some cases the institution may ask you that the letter of recommendation be in a previously defined format, that it be written by specific people and / or that it be sent in a sealed envelope. If so, follow those instructions because they are application requirements that, if not met, can mean your immediate disqualification.
Language: If it is for an English program, it is ideal that it be written in that language and that the person serving as a reference can answer questions in that language. However, it is not mandatory that it be handled in this way because you can attach an official translation to your letter of recommendation.
Size: It is recommended that the letter of recommendation be between 1 and maximum 1.5 pages in Times New Roman , Arial or Calibri , size 12 and with normal spacing and margins. This way you make sure it is concrete but descriptive enough.
Letterhead: Ideally, the letter should be written on a letterhead of the institution to which the teacher belongs or the organization where your boss works. This gives the document more formality and therefore more confidence.
Contact information: The letter must clearly include the telephone, postal address and email of the person who recommends you. In this way, the evaluating institution is given the opportunity to contact the person who recommends you to verify the information.
Letter of Recommendation Template
To Whom It May Concern:
It is my pleasure to strongly recommend [Applicant Name] for [position with Company Name or acceptance to Institution Name].
I am [Your Name], a [your position] at [Institution or Company]. I have [number] years of experience working in [your industry or academic focus] and have seen many young professionals come and go. [Applicant Name] is one individual I have worked with who uniquely stands out.
During our time together, [Applicant Name] displayed great talents in [skill, trait, experience, class, etc.]. When we first met, I was immediately impressed with [Applicant’s Name], but during the time we worked together, her understanding of [key topic] grew far more than that of her peers.
[Insert personal story elaborating on key skills, trait, experience].
It’s not just her technical skills that impress me, however. [Applicant Name] was a joy to work with because of her amazingly positive attitude and [positive trait]. Her [positive trait] and [positive trait] were also necessary and valued not just by myself, but by her peers, who often relied on her to get the job done.
I am absolutely confident that [Applicant Name] would be a great fit for your [Institution/Company]. Not only will she bring the kind of skills and experiences you’re looking for in an applicant, but she will also quickly become an asset and help your [Institution/Company] grow in any way she can.
If you need more information or specific examples, please do not hesitate to contact me at [contact information]. As a recommendation letter likely only provides a snapshot of her talents and achievements, I would be happy to further elaborate on my time working with her.
[Your Name, Company, and Title]
Recommendation Letter Example
March 17, 2021
College Scholars Program
University of Tennessee
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
To Whom It May Concern:
It is with much enthusiasm that I recommend Joe Bloom for inclusion in the College Scholars Program at the University of Tennessee.
I was Joe’s instructor for multiple English classes during his four years at Morristown-Hamblen High School, including AP English his junior year. In our classes, Joe displayed a level of creativity, wit, and analytical thought that is quite rare among high school students.
His writing and research skills are truly phenomenal – for his major essay project in AP English, he researched and wrote a remarkable study of visual imagery in the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
Joe’s wide-ranging intellect is such that he would be bored by most freshman- and sophomore-level Liberal Arts courses. He is ready to assume and excel in upper division classwork, and possesses the self-motivation to successfully create and execute an independent course of honors study.
Joe’s academic strengths are complemented by his demonstrated leadership skills – he was our band’s drum major for two years and served as Vice President of the Student Council and Editor of our high school yearbook. He is also very active in his church and in the Sierra Student Coalition.
Please let me know if I can provide any more information to strengthen Joe’s candidacy for the College Scholars Program.
He has a very special spark, and I trust he will go far in making our world a better place.
Jane Evans (signature hard copy letter)