The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Letters of Recommendation: Beinecke Program

The Beinecke Scholarship seeks to find and support students in the humanities, social sciences, and arts who have demonstrated outstanding academic prowess and who wish to attend graduate school. The Beinecke is a $30,000 graduate school fellowship with an additional $4,000 cash award. Students apply for in their junior year. 

When determining which applicants to award, Beinecke representatives are looking for four things: 1) Academic excellence, 2) Strong intellectual experience (e.g., opportunities for independent research, publications, conference presentations, etc.) 3) Demonstrated financial need (i.e., the candidate must be receiving financial aid), and 4) Validation of academic prowess and potential from letter of recommendation writers.

Make the Case for Excellence

The Beinecke truly seeks to reward excellence; in past years Beinecke Scholars have had an outstanding academic record that has enabled them to go directly to top graduate programs right after finishing their bachelor's degree. Be specific in terms of what has impressed you in your interactions with the student, and bring the student to life in your letter. There are a couple effective ways to do this; you can bring in specific examples or anecdotes from your experience with the student in the classroom or in individual meetings.

Confirm and Validate the Student's Academic and Career Goals

Be sure to comment on the student's sincere commitment as well as ability to continue going forward in their field in a top-tier graduate school, and be sure to address the student's potential to make a significant and compelling impact in their field. It's helpful if you can genuinely and favorably compare the student to other outstanding undergraduate (or graduate) students you've worked with.

Speak to Your Audience

The letter you write for a student applying for a Beinecke Scholarship should be similar to the kind of letter you would write for a student going to graduate school. Readers will be looking to you to add depth and perspective to the student regarding their academic achievement, intellectual ability, and potential to succeed in graduate school. Finally, keep in mind that letters that are too short or too long may hurt the applicant. Generally speaking, a one-and-a-half to two page single-spaced letter suffices for this competition.

Submitting Your Letter

Recommendation for an internal applicant

Letters for internal applicants who are applying internally to be Reed's nominee for the national competition can be informal, and should be submitted to prior to the internal application deadline.

Final recommendation for Reed's nominee for the national competition

If you are writing a final recommendation letter for Reed College's nominee to the national competition, follow these instructions:

  • Address your letter to: Beinecke Scholarship Selection Committee
  • Write your letter on Reed letterhead and sign it, and then send a pdf of your letter to