When selecting application referees consider if the person really believes in you and genuinely wants to see you succeed in your application and life in general. Ask yourself if the person has authority in the field and most qualified to speak about your competences and attributes. Lastly consider if the person is willing to create the time to sit down and really present you as the most capable and deserving candidate. You do not want the person to write and submit something generic and less compelling.

A reference letter is an important component of your scholarship application. Thus, it is important for an applicant to select strategic referee who will take the application as once off opportunity to contribute to making your application outstanding. You require a referee that has authority in the field. It has to be one person that will give the scholarship selection committee the impression that not picking you would be shooting themselves in the foot because you bring a lot of value no one else can offer.

Scholarship applications are very competitive and institutions usually receive numerous applications for a few slots. In such a competitive environment, schools are unable to extend offers to many excellent applicants. But this must not make one feel intimidated or discouraged. Scholarship funders usually look for specific characteristics, attributes and qualities which an applicant must know ahead of time. These are usually outlined in the scholarship advert but sometimes the onus is on the applicant to search for them so he or she can get a deeper appreciation of the interests of the funders.

Scholarship applications are like pitching a business idea or a business proposal. Imagining a scholarship application this way will make you realise that there are interests involved. The same way you have interests as you apply for the scholarship, the scholarship funders also have their own interests in the scholarship program. It is thus essential that you understand those interests, so you speak to those interests in all that you do in the application process.

Your overall objective when making a scholarship application is to pitch an idea called you. Who are you? What skills, knowledge and abilities do you possess? What experience do you bring to the table? How prepared are you to undertake the funded program? What is your passion? and most importantly, what do the funders stand to gain in funding you? While you have an opportunity to tell it all in your personal statement, you will realise that it is not adequate that they hear it from you. Hearing it from your referees (i.e. lecturer, former employer, dissertation supervisor) carries more weight and substance. Hence, your personal statement complemented by a powerful reference letter makes your application more robust.

While it may be convenient to approach a friend or any other person, it is not in your applications’ interest as you require someone reputable, reliable and credible enough as your reference. You need a recommendation to come from a person that really knows your strengths and really wants to see you succeed. It has to be someone that really believes in you and your capabilities to complete the funded studies. It also must be someone who can provide evidence that clearly shows that they are the right authority to speak concerning your competencies, characteristics, attributes and qualities.

You are probably wondering if the status or title of the person matters. The answer is an emphatic yes. You need to approach a person that is recognizable. It could be a lecturer, a doctor in the field or a professor. In some instances, it could be a former employer, mentor or coach. Some scholarships specify who to provide you with a reference letter and that is a very good thing. Whatever the case it must be someone that really knows you and want to see you succeed. It will reflect in the richness of their content, its length and how compelling it reads. Length will only count so long it is mixed with substance.

Do not make a mistake of asking someone to write you a letter of recommendation and they use a generic template. It will be visible, and the scholarship panel or committee will see it and make a decision that will not be in your favour. The best recommendation or reference letter speaks specifically to the specific scholarship program in question, abilities, attributes and qualities that makes the favourable applicant or candidate. It should aim be very specific and tailored to speaks to the demands of the scholarship opportunity in question. It must dissolve all doubt and present you as the right candidate, stating how you have what it takes to deliver that funders need to be delivered.

To tie it all in, your reference or recommendation letter can either break or make your chances of landing a scholarship that may just change you whole life. Therefore, you need to be deliberate and intentional in terms of who you choose or select to write a reference or recommendation letter for you. It must be someone that is reputable, credible and reliable. The chosen one must be someone you know beyond doubt to have your best interests at heart.

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