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Monday, 8 December 2014

How to Win a Scholarship: Steps to Boost your Letter of Recommendation

I have been a beneficiary of multiple scholarships and I thank God for His grace.

Many of us young people dream to win a scholarship to pursue higher education in our own countries or abroad. While there are many platforms for finding scholarship opportunities like ‘opportunitydesk.org’, scholarship application remains a ‘tough competition’ to many of us.  I will discuss a few tips to boost your Letter of Recommendation when making scholarship application.

Many scholarship applicants may not realize the contribution of good recommendation letter to your application. In fact, most scholarships or job interviews check your recommenders, their organizations and positions.

For most scholarships, letters of recommendation form one of the extremely important parts of applications towards winning the scholarship. The type of recommender you have as your reference provides selection committee members with a glimpse of the type of applicant you are as well as set you apart from other competitors. For example, having recommendation from an Assistant Secretary or from a Senior Professor does not carry the same weight, you get what I mean?

Steps to boost your Letters of Recommendation

Just like job recommendations, most scholarships would expect three types of references; from academic, social and/or professional reference. Academic reference will be from your Professor or lecturer, Social references are such as your community leader or religious leader, and Professional references are from companies where you have worked, or from organizations you have been involved with.

When looking for a recommender, look for professionals such as academic professors, your boss at work, etc. The recommender should know the applicant well enough to provide specific information about him or her for the time they have known each other.

Recommendation letters should be honest, free of hyperbole, and provide specific information about the particular applicant. Do inform your recommender about the scholarship you are applying for and if possible update him/her on the developments of your application status.

What makes a good Recommendation letter?

  • Specific information about the applicant: These include qualities of the applicant for example, leadership, valuable research, representing the university in different conferences attended, etc.
  • How long the recommender has known the applicants.
  • Recommender can place the applicant into a larger context. For example, by stating that the applicant was among top 3 best students in class, etc.
  • Mention of applicant’s potential if given further opportunities.
  • Ask your recommender to use official letterhead
  • I wish you success in your applications. So next time, I will continue by sharing Tips to Boost your Scholarship Interview.

You may also read >>> Boosting your Essay >>> Boosting your Personal Statement

Remember if you have any questions or comments, you are welcome to do so below this post. Share this with all the people in your network. you never can tell who needs it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Douglas Owino

Douglas holds a Bachelors in International Business Administration (Hons) from US International University (Kenya) and an MBA – International Business in South Korea. He is a Global Changemaker with British Council, Certified Youth Peer Educator, Peace Ambassador, Scholarship Adviser and a Mentor to high school pupils. He previously worked for I Choose Life-Africa (NGO) and Kenya Commercial Bank Group.

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