How to Ask for a Persuasive Letter of Recommendation
Ask EARLY and Ask IN PERSON
Ask well in advance of the deadline: three weeks minimum. Also, ask in person, if possible. Asking for a recommendation at the last minute will earn you a short, hurried letter that might not be as helpful as it could have been had you given your recommender ample time to write an excellent letter. If the person you ask to be a recommendation says “No”, do not press. Trying to talk professors or individuals into writing a letter they do not wish to write or feel comfortable writing will not serve you well. Instead, thank them for their time, and approach another individual who you feel would be a good recommendation.
Make Sure it is a GLOWING and PERSONALIZED Recommendation
Ask someone who knows more about you than just your GPA or information gleaned from your resume. Ask someone who can tell positive stories about your academic, community, or campus involvement.
Make it EASY for Them to Write Your Recommendation
Be sure to talk with your recommender to discuss the scholarship application.
When you meet, outline scholarship selection criteria and provide input about what should be stressed in the letter. Be sure to mention critical information. For example, share with you recommender that the scholarship is aimed at first-generation students or that the leadership should be emphasized. This will affect the shape of the letter and increase your chances of applying successfully.
Also be sure to mention any extenuating circumstances that might explain a weakness in your application. If your grades are not flawless, but you are working 10, 20, 30 hours a week to make end meet, you should make sure your recommender mentions this.
Provide your recommender with the following:
- A copy of the application that includes your essay answers if at all possible. If your application is not yet complete, then provide a general personal statement. If you are applying to a variety of scholarships, send an e-mail with a brief description of each one what the recommendation letter should emphasize. Check the National Scholarships List on ONSA’s website for more details.
- A current resume or a list of your activities and honors.
- Official recommendation forms or links. Be sure to complete any sections that pertain to you.
- Make sure you have signed and waived your right to access under the Family Educational and Privacy Act (FERPA) and completed the ONSA Waiver Form.
Definitely say Thank You! Send the professors or individuals who took the time to write your recommendation a thank you letter or note and keep them updated on the outcome of your application.