Letters of Recommendation

Russ Castronovo, professor of english, meets with a graduate student in the his office in Helen C. White Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Feb. 9, 2016. Castronovo is one of twelve 2016 Distinguished Teaching Award recipients. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)National scholarship applicants should discuss their choice of recommenders with Undergraduate Academic Awards Office staff members before requesting letters. Please contact us at awards@provost.wisc.edu or (608) 265-2428.

Letters of recommendation are essential, whether you are applying for a scholarship, internship, or to graduate or professional school.  They are an important part of the application process, providing an outside perspective on your strengths, abilities and accomplishments.

Be sure to select recommenders who know you well and can discuss your academic and/or extracurricular accomplishments.  Your choices will depend on the scholarship for which you are applying, but may include thesis or research supervisors, professors for courses in which you did some of your best work (or struggled and overcame obstacles), internship and volunteer activity supervisors, or employers.

See the our Tips for Requesting a Letter of Recommendation for more advice on who to ask, how to ask, what information to provide, and how to follow-up with your recommenders.

Begin now to create the contacts you need.  Here’s some advice from national scholars on how to get to know professors and other mentors.

  • Attend office hours
  • In big lecture courses, sit in the first three rows and volunteer to answer questions
  • Get involved in research
  • Take more than one class with the same professor
  • Stay in touch with past professors so they stay current with what you are doing, get a bigger picture of who you are, and won’t forget you
  • Join clubs and organizations related to issues important to you, and take on leadership positions

When requesting your letter, be sure to direct your recommenders to our tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation.