How do I get recommendations/references?

Recommendations or references are an important part of the scholarship application. This is a chance for others to share about you, so it’s important to make sure you are getting strong recommendations.

Here are a couple of tips to help you as you work on your recommendations.

1) Ask someone who knows you

The best reference for you is someone who knows you. Sometimes the scholarship application will ask for specific types of references, for example an academic, professional or a personal reference. Pay attention so that you make sure you are asking the right people. A professional reference should talk about you in a professional capacity, while a personal reference refers to your character and personal attributes. Make sure you ask people who know you in these specific capacities. Usually, a person who knows you will write a stronger recommendation than someone who hardly knows you.

2) Ask early

As soon as you know your scholarship deadline, ask for that recommendation letter. Asking early shows that you care about your referee’s time, and allows you to have adequate time for follow up to ensure the recommendation is submitted.

3) Send an annotated CV

Send your referee an updated annotated CV. An annotated CV explains in detail all the activities that you’ve been involved in. For example, if you got a named award, the XYZ award, make sure that you explain what the award is for. So, “The XYZ Award for the top student in the third year class.” This will allow your referee to speak more specifically about you!

4) Remind your referees of the deadline

Always monitor whether your references have been submitted or not. One to two weeks before the deadline, remind your referees that your recommendation is due. Don’t assume that they will remember!

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