Individual faculty are in the best position to recognize qualified undergraduate candidates and promote student applications for major national and international scholarships and fellowships. If you know students you believe would be strong candidates for such awards, please refer them both to the faculty advisers for individual awards, listed on this website, and to the University Honors Program.
Candidates cannot succeed without very enthusiastic faculty support. Faculty advisers for individual scholarships and fellowships are experts on the kinds of letters required for successful applicants, and these advisers, along with the fellowships and scholarships coordinator in the University Honors Program, welcome the opportunity to work with you on recommendation letters and other kinds of advocacy and preparation for your students, including university endorsements and mock interviews.
Identifying successful candidates
Most successful candidates for national and international scholarships and fellowships will possess:
- Clear academic and career goals
- Consistently strong academic record
- Leadership in and out of the classroom that goes beyond simple organizational office-holding or management
- Commitment to service beyond course or organizational requirements
- Excellent writing and speaking skills
- Interest in social justice
- Active, demonstrated curiosity about the world
Advice on writing recommendation letters for major scholarships and fellowships
- Ask the candidate to provide you with their CV or resume, a draft of their personal statement, and any other information that will help you get a full sense of why they are particularly an appropriate candidate for a given opportunity. Meet with students at least once if possible to discuss strengths and plans.
- Avoid merely duplicating in your letter material on the CV and transcript. If you have no further knowledge of the candidate, you may want to help them find another recommender rather than agreeing to write the letter yourself.
- In the letter, contextualize your familiarity with the applicant. In what capacity do you know him or her?
- The most important information in your letter will be what makes the candidate distinctive. These opportunities get hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications; what about this candidate would make the interviewing committee sorry not to meet him or her?
- Familiarize yourself with the qualities sought in candidates (the fellowship or scholarship website will often be very direct about these), and address ways the candidate has demonstrated these.
- Brief anecdotes or stories can be powerful, especially if they not only demonstrate familiarity but illustrate a distinctive quality of the student.
- Review committees are trying to discern if applicants will be leaders in their fields, indeed will help to define the shape of their fields. What about this candidate (and perhaps the field) suggests this might be the case?
- Always submit the letter on letterhead and include your full title.