Who Do You Ask for Letters of Recommendation?

Among the main requirements when filling out any scholarship application is a recommendation letter(s). College performance and other supporting documents are important in the assessment process but letters of recommendation provide more detailed information that’s not obvious in your college application. In fact, whatever is written in these files plays a vital role in the decision-making process.

Although you won’t be the one writing the recommendation letter, it’s your responsibility as a student to ensure that it’s well-curated. As such, you must choose someone with whom you’ve developed a good academic and professional relationship. A person who understands you and your academic journey will be able to personalize the letter and cover the most relevant and specific details.

Now that you know the importance of a good recommendation letter, who should you consider as your writer? 

  1. Teachers or Professors 

Perhaps the best option, and one that most students prefer, is teachers or professors. Your teacher is one of the few people who can discuss all aspects of your academic life with a lot of accuracies. The fact that they’ve been with you through all the huddles makes them the most credible source of such important information. 

Of course, as a student, you interact with many teachers. Therefore, finding the best one who can handle this responsibility might not be straightforward. Some of the factors you should consider include the amount of time you’ve been in their class and their department. Finding someone from your field of specialization is a bonus. Regardless of the teacher or professor you choose, make sure that you act as friendly as possible towards them.

  1. School Principals or Counselors

If you don’t have any teacher in mind, you can also ask for a recommendation letter from your school counsellor. Unlike teachers, though, school counsellors and principals don’t have all the details about every student, at least not as personalized as you would like. But this is still the second-best option if you fail to secure the letter from any of your trusted teachers. 

You probably wouldn’t like this route if you get into trouble too often because your chances of success would be pretty slim. However, if you’re among the school’s model students, then you can expect a lot of praises from the school principal or counsellor. 

So, how will you go about it? Well, your first step would be to arrange for a face-to-face meeting; make sure you plan this ahead of time. This way, they’ll have enough time and space to do a little research on you if necessary. In addition, it would be a good idea to also bring along a list of your accomplishments and any other relevant documents. Remember to share with your counsellor any other information that’ll further enhance your candidacy.

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  1. Group Leaders from Extracurricular Activities

Contrary to popular beliefs, academic achievements aren’t the only things considered by the application assessment committee. If you engaged in any extracurricular activities during your time at the school, then don’t hesitate to ask your leader at the time for a recommendation letter. 

Whether it was a debate team, sports team, or drama group, whatever you learned or shared during its meetings and sessions can be very crucial in the long run. In fact, adding this as your main or second letter of recommendation sets you apart from most of the other applicants. Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll need to consider the services of someone who doesn’t only understand you but also cares about your future and goals.

  1. Never Ask Family! 

One big mistake that you can ever make as a scholarship applicant is asking your family member to write a recommendation letter for you. It might seem obvious but you will be surprised by the number of candidates who mess up their application by making this wrong move. 

The fact that you are related through blood is enough to make them biased in their information. For that reason, most committees ignore such recommendation letters and may even go as far as disqualifying you depending on the ground rules. Of course, this might be the ideal option if you were homeschooled, but even so, it would be wise to consider an extracurricular leader first. 

What Next?

Finding a good recommender is the hardest part but that’s not where it all ends. The next step is to ensure that the letter is submitted within the required timelines. At least two weeks before the deadline, follow up with your teacher, counsellor, or group leader by writing them an email. After expressing your gratitude, ask them politely if they’ve submitted the letter. Be sure to remind them of the deadline and your willingness to share any further information if needed. 


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