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The Art of Letters

Your correspondence is judged along with your application.

Roxana Hadad

March 31, 2009

The Art of Letters

Applying for scholarships can be a complicated process, from gathering the paperwork, getting recommendations, writing application essays and meeting the deadline. Good letters accomplish two things: they make the process more efficient, and they display maturity and professionalism to the selection committee.

Below are some essential letter tips that just might make yours the winning application. And don't forget, as more scholarship providers move online, the rules for etiquette in correspondence apply to email too.

Application Request: To request an application for a scholarship, inform the provider of where you learned about the award and why you are eligible for it. Be brief – you'll have the chance to sell them in your application. Be sure to provide your correct mailing address. Also, request the application early to leave enough time for you to submit a strong application packet.

Recommendation Request: When requesting a recommendation letter for a scholarship (or a college application), select someone who has worked closely with you and who understands the award you're applying for.

Be sure to leave ample time for the recommender to write the letter and send it in by the deadline. Give no less than three weeks' notice.

Provide the recommender with all the information they need to write the letter:

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• Remind them of the contact you have had with them (the specific class, extracurricular activities, etc.).
• Let them know what the scholarship committee is looking for and how you fulfill those requirements, so that they know what to emphasize in the letter.
• Provide your contact information.
• Make sure they are aware of the deadline date.
• Include transcripts, portfolios, resumes or any other information you have that will help the recommender write a strong letter.
• Don't forget to thank your recommender.

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Thank you: Once you've won a scholarship, be sure to thank the provider for selecting you as a recipient. Let them know you are honored by their selection, and let them know specifically how you will apply the award toward your education. Provide them with updated contact information to ensure you receive any additional materials.

Sample #1: Application Request


Ms. Jane Doe
Environmental Foundation Scholarship 123 E. 60th Street
Washington, D.C. 12345-9876

Dear Ms. Doe,

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I learned about the Environmental Foundation Scholarship you are offering from FastWeb and am interested in applying for the award. I am a freshman at State University, where I have been majoring in biology and have been very active in the Environmental Club. Upon graduation, I hope to continue my studies in graduate school so that I can eventually achieve my goal of becoming an environmental scientist.

I believe my credentials fit well with this award, and I would appreciate it if you would provide me with the application and any other information about the scholarship.

Thank you.


Sarah Parks
456 Elm Road
New York, NY 10006

Sample #2: Recommendation Request


Professor William Kelly
4632 Doheny Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Dear Professor Kelly,

I am applying for the Shakespeare Scholarship and would like to request a letter of recommendation from you on my behalf. I was in your British Literature class last semester, and I really appreciated the time and assistance you offered me and all your students. My writing skills improved dramatically and I gained a better understanding of British literature. I have since taken what I learned in your class and applied it to my work as a volunteer at Local School District 34. After graduation, I hope to pursue a career in English secondary education to encourage an appreciation for literature.

The Shakespeare Scholarship is for students who are interested in English education, have academic achievement and have worked with the community. Please focus on these areas when composing the letter. You can find a more detailed description of my extracurricular activities and goals in the attached resume.

I would appreciate it if you would send the attached evaluation form and your letter of recommendation in the enclosed stamped self-addressed envelope by [four weeks from the letter's date]. Thank you very much for your help in this application process.


Steven Miller
456 Maple Road
New York, NY 10016

Sample #3: Thank You


Ms. Jane Doe
Awareness Scholarship Foundation
652 W. 30th Street
Chicago, IL 60657

Dear Ms. Doe,

Thank you for selecting me as the recipient of the Awareness Foundation's College Scholarship. Please extend my thanks to the entire scholarship committee and all those connected with the selection process. I am proud and honored that I have been chosen as a Foundation Scholar. I am also very grateful to your organization for providing me with an opportunity to achieve my educational goals and continue my studies in urban planning.

Should you need to contact me, please feel free to call me at (312) 555-8989, email me at or write me at the address below. Thank you again for your generosity.


Chris Diehl
3820 Lakeview Rd.
Denver, CO 80202

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