Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In life, we as humans rely on the recommendations of others to tell us where the cheapest place is to buy groceries, the best place to get our hair done, the best place to bank, to work. You name it and chances are we factor in if not rely completely on the opinions of others that know something first hand. Similarly, scholarship committees take into consideration the opinions (or recommendations) of others when evaluating whether or not you are the right choice to award monies to. This is done for two reasons. One, a letter from someone who actually knows and has interacted with you gives the committee an opinion of you other than your own (as you have written and filled out an entire five to ten page essay); and two, it allows the committee an opinion of you in a work or school environment. Ideally, this is what your letter of recommendation should do, although whether or not it actually performs the work it is supposed to rely heavily on the choices you make as an applicant.
How do you know who to ask for a letter of recommendation from? Below we will look at the Do's and Don'ts of picking a person to write your letter.
  • DO ask someone you have known for longer than six months. Committees want the opinion of someone that actually knows you, not just a guy that knows your name from somewhere.
  • DON'T ask a family member. Your family has to say you're great. That's their job. Committees know this and don't consider their opinions to be beneficial or objective.
  • DO ask a teacher/professor or boss. Letters of recommendation are usually best received when written by someone who is considered an expert or professional This means that they want letters of people that have been in a supervisory role over you.
  • DON'T ask a co-worker or friend. The last thing you want in a letter of recommendation is your buddy or coworker saying how cool you are and that you really need the money. These are classic examples of folks that scholarship committees don't feel have the authority to offer an objective opinion.
OK, so your teacher or boss has agreed to write a letter of recommendation for you. To make sure that their letter does the work it's supposed to do, you need to make sure they understand all of the rules and that they have ample time to formulate and submit their letter. Here are a few things you should do to help your writer out:
  • Give your writer plenty of notice. Most people say to ask three weeks in advance, but I think that is pushing it, personally. I think you should ask AT LEAST four weeks before the letter needs to be submitted and then send a reminder email two weeks before it is due.
  • Give your writer the guidelines: how long, topics to be covered, etc. Also, make sure they have the address the letter needs to be mailed to OR that they give you the letter in a sealed envelope, as this is often a stipulation of scholarship committees.
  • Say please and thank you. If the first person you ask is unable to write your letter, don't be offended. Ask someone else. Remember, a letter of recommendation is a gift, NOT a right.
Remember, your letter or letters of recommendation are an important component of your scholarship application, so be sure to treat them as such. Source:http://www.scholarshipnet.info/


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