Scholarship Letter of Recommendation Tips

In a highly competitive scholarship environment, an exceptionally well written letter of recommendation testifying to a student's qualities, can be the key to which student is selected to receive the award.  In an effort to enhance the quailty of scholarship applications, we have come up with several tips for the person(s) writing recommendation letters to help write the most effective letter possible. (Information submitted by Barbara Macgillivray, former high school counselor.)

When writing a letter or recommendation,


  • Focus on things that only YOU can tell – a specific story or anecdote. 
  • Relate in what capacity you know the student and for how long.
  • Avoid overused words (“passionate”), routine praise (“hard worker”) or generalities (“good student”).
  • Stop at one page (minimum font size=10).
  • Be honest. 


  • Repeat awards, leadership, & activities already listed on a resume unless you can add new insight that emphasizes an important personal quality.
  • Use clichés or platitudes (“good as gold”).
  • Describe student’s physical appearance.
  • Try to impress by using big words –use fun words instead (articulate, zealous, earnest, etc.)