The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Letters of Recommendation: Goldwater Program

The Goldwater Scholarship seeks to find and support the next generation of research scientists, engineers and technology specialists. Approximately two hundred Goldwater Scholarships are awarded nationally each year to sophomores and juniors planning to pursue research careers in mathematics, engineering and the sciences. Goldwater Scholars receive $7,500 for the subsequent year of undergraduate study.

 When determining which applicants to award, Goldwater representatives are looking for three things: 1) Academic excellence, 2) Significant research experience, and 3) A commitment to pursuing a career in research. You may wish to keep the following points in mind:

Make the Case for Excellence: The Goldwater truly seeks to reward excellence.  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, the lab or in meetings with them.

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 a research career, and be sure to address the student's potential to make a significant and compelling impact in their field (think "broader impacts"). It's helpful if you can genuinely favorably compare the student to other outstanding undergraduate students you've worked with.

Speak to Your Audience: You can assume that the people who will read your letter for the Goldwater competition are scientifically educated and generally knowledgeable in science, mathematics or engineering (however it's unlikely that all reviewers will be from a student's field of expertise). Readers will be looking to you to add depth and perspective to the student regarding their research skills, intellectual ability and potential for a career in science, engineering or mathematics, so be sure to address those topics. Generally speaking, a one to two page single-spaced letter suffices for this competition.

1. All letters need to be submitted online Students are responsible for registering you as their reference writer in their online application; once they do this you will receive instructions for how to submit your letter. Fellowships advisers do not have access to referee registration, so if you do not receive these instructions, contact the student to make sure they registered you correctly.

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