Student Fellowships & Awards

The Center for Life Beyond Reed, Division of Student Services

Resources for Faculty: Letters of Recommendation

For national fellowship awards such as Fulbright, Rhodes, Watson, etc., there is a two-step review process.  Candidates first apply internally to receive the formal backing of Reed College.  Those who are nominated to proceed to the national competition then complete their applications and submit to the reviewing organizations. 

The requirements for the letters of recommendation differ for each stage.

For the internal nomination process:

A recommendation for an internal competition can be sent by email.  It should be addressed to your peers on the Fellowships and Awards Committee and should frankly state whether or not you feel this candidate merits Reed's institutional endorsement.  How enthusiastic are you about this student's candidacy?  If you do not believe that the student would be a strong representative for Reed, you may wish to decline the request and give him/her a chance to identify another letter writer who might feel more positive.  If you agree to write the letter in spite of reservations, please ensure that you make your reservations clear in your internal letter, rather than couching them in the more formal and perhaps neutral way that you might for an external audience.  If you feel the student would be a strong candidate, please briefly summarize why.  If this student is selected to move forward into the competition, you will be asked to provide a formal letter for an external audience.

For the external application process:

If the student has already received Reed's endorsement or is applying for a program that does not require institutional support, your letter may be subject to requirements specific to the competition:  you may need to submit a signed letter on letterhead; submit an electronic version directly into an online application form; or respond to specific prompts provided by the reviewing organization.  Be sure to find out from the student if there is a specific form or format about which you need to be aware and if there are any guidelines or restrictions as to length.  Find out when the deadline for the letter is.  Ask the student to provide a handout or link to material summarizing the goals of the program if you are not familiar with it.  Ask them to provide you with a copy of their application essay to refer to when preparing your letter.  It might be helpful to meet with the student in person to develop a better sense of their goals and fit with the program.

You may find the following information helpful when preparing letters for specific competitions:

Please get in touch with Michelle Johnson, Fellowships Adviser at any point with questions about deadlines, format, processes - or for suggestions about content or style.