Letters of recommendation are the most important component to an application, next to the essays written by the candidates. Referees are advised to provide as much relevant detail as possible. Specific examples and concrete comparisons with other students make a stronger case for our best candidates.
In general, scholarship committees give preference to candidates who combine high academic ability, personal integrity, an ongoing commitment to community service and the potential to make a significant contribution to their discipline and professional career. Candidates also must demonstrate the potential and desire to play an active role in their communities. See our How to Win Scholarships: Five Steps to Secure Funding page to learn more about what our winners look like.
Powerful letters of recommendation provide ample detail and evidence of:
Try not to rely solely on a summary of the candidate’s performance in a class or a cursory review of their transcripts and/or resume. Rather, seek a balanced, detailed, honest yet favorable portrait of the candidate from your perspective that addresses the criteria desired by the particular fellowship. Feel free to ask the candidate if there is anything that they would like you to mention in your letter.
Letters of recommendation should be frank and devoid of hyperbole. Avoid pro forma letters at all costs.