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The Magic Formula for Choosing a Letter of Recommendation Writer for Scholarships

Choosing a letter of recommendation writer is a key aspect of scholarship applications and should not be taken lightly.

Choosing a Letter of Recommendation Writer for College and Scholarships

Students seeking college scholarship money need to think long and hard about who they ask to write their letters of recommendation.


The letter of recommendation is an extremely important part of scholarship applications. Besides the essay, it is a chance for the scholarship judge to learn personal details about the student.

What most students don’t realize is that choosing who would be the best option for writing the letter should depend on the type of scholarship that they are applying for.

For example, a scholarship that rewards students for volunteering (like these) would be a perfect place to include a letter of recommendation from a director of an organization where a student has spent hours volunteering. This person should be one who has worked closely with the student and can share details of his or her work ethic, contributions, and experiences.

When deciding who should write a letter of recommendation, students need first to identify the type of scholarship they are applying for.

Here are a few suggestions:

Type of Scholarship Letter of Recommendation Writer
Healthcare Medical Personnel
Engineering Higher Level Math Teacher/Robotics Mentor
Community Service Volunteer Coordinator
Talent Based Music Instructor, Photography Specialist, etc.

Thinking outside of the box when it comes to who should write a scholarship letter of recommendation is just plain SMART.

Remember, a student should only ask the people whom they admire and have worked closely with over time.

(In other words, students should not ask a local politician to write a letter of recommendation if they have never met and have no previous relationship.)

HOT TIP:  Students need to hand their letter writers a copy of their scholarship resume and let them know what the theme of the scholarship is and a few ideas they would like included in the letters. I teach how to create the scholarship resume in my How to Win College Scholarships ebooks for parents and their students, found HERE.

Once students have chosen who they would like to write their letters, the next step is to ask for digital copies of each letter. 

This is very important for scholarship submissions, especially ones that are submitted during school breaks.

If a teacher is bound by school rules and cannot release the letters to the students, that is when the list of other writers found below becomes so valuable.

(They can also ask for sealed letters from teachers to include in physically mailed scholarship application packets.)

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Go over this list carefully with your student:

Possible Letter of Recommendation Writers

  • Teachers
  • High School Principals
  • High School Vice Principals
  • High School Counselors
  • Pastors/Clergy
  • Youth Group Leaders
  • Robotics Mentors
  • Athletic Coaches
  • Music Instructors
  • Test Prep Tutors
  • Academic Tutors
  • Employers
  • Volunteer Directors and Staff
  • Club Coaches
  • Scout Leaders
  • 4-H Leaders
  • Politicians
  • Internship Directors

This list is valuable for deciding WHO to ask to write a letter of recommendation for scholarships; now head over to this post to learn how to help the writer create the best and most detailed letter possible. 

What are parents and students saying about the How to Win College Scholarships ebooks? 

“We are using Monica’s strategies and they are so helpful. My oldest has been awarded $25k so far & is a junior in college. She keeps applying to the university scholarships.” S.H., Indiana


Do you have another suggestion for choosing a scholarship letter of recommendation writer? Please share it in the comments section below. ~ Monica Matthews

The Magic Formula for Choosing a Letter of Recommendation Writer for College Scholarships

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