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How to Request a Letter of Recommendation


Scholarship applications may require applicants to include one or more personal references, or letters of recommendation. A personal reference or letter of recommendation is a formal statement from someone professional who knows you (the applicant) and can describe your qualities and achievements for consideration. Typically, this is a non-family member, and someone who has experience with your work ethic, leadership experiences, and personal characteristics. For example, references and letters of recommendation could be written by an instructor, school advisor, community leader, or employer. 

The SCC Online Scholarship Application allows students to list the name and email address of their references directly on the application. To be considered for a scholarship, students must provide a minimum of one, and up to three references on the SCC Online Scholarship Application.

Private or corporate scholarships processed outside of the campus may have different requirements for personal references or letters of recommendation. Be sure to read all instructions carefully before submitting your application.



1.    Before asking someone to provide a reference or letter of recommendation, be sure they know you well enough to talk about your character and abilities.

An instructor who has only known you for one semester may not be able to provide a well-rounded picture of your qualities, or be able to highlight your non-academic accomplishments. Try to ask someone who has enough knowledge of your work ethic and character to write a compelling recommendation.


2.      Ask politely, and don't put them "on the spot."

If possible, speak with the individual in person to explain why you are requesting a reference or letter of recommendation. You want them to feel comfortable providing this for you. When speaking with them, be sure to discuss:

  • Why you are requesting the letter
  • Relevant information about the scholarship and the criteria you meet
  • Let them know to whom the letter should be addressed
  • Provide the application deadline*

3.      *Give the author plenty of time to write the reference or recommendation.

Telling someone on Wednesday that you need their recommendation by Friday can put unreasonable and excessive pressure on them, and a hastily written letter of recommendation or reference may not serve you well. It is appropriate to give the author at least two weeks to deliver a recommendation on your behalf. When you give a person ample time to "sing your praises" it can really make a difference in the quality of the letter they are able to compose for you

4.      Ask the author if they would mind being a reference for future applications?

The SCC Online Application requires a minimum of one, and up to three references for all scholarships listed. But, will you be applying for more scholarships outside of the SCC campus? This will mean that each reference or letter of recommendation might need modifications to fit the criteria of each particular scholarship. If you let the author know in advance that there may be additional applications that you would like to use their reference for, they will appreciate your consideration of their time and effort.

5.      Say Thank You!

The person who writes your letter of recommendation is using their personal time and effort to promote your success. Regardless of whether or not you are awarded a scholarship, a sincere thank you note goes a long way to maintaining a positive relationship between you and the author of your recommendation. Knowing that you appreciate their time and consideration can be its own reward.