Fellowships Program-Specific Advice
For many national fellowship awards 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.
Internal nomination process
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 them 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.
The Fulbright program is an exception to this process, as there is little to no internal selection taking place (committee members may choose to not recommend an application, but this is uncommon). Final recommendations should be submitted online by the internal September deadline via the link sent to you by Fulbright. This is the only recommendation letter or form that you'll submit for the applicant. If you miss the internal deadline for any reason, the applicant may still participate in our internal process as long as they submit their application by the internal deadline. In this case, our committee will have less information when they provide feedback to the applicant during the campus committee evaluation interview. The U.S. Student Fulbright program strongly recommends that final recommendations be submitted by the internal deadline, but we understand that this may not always be possible. Please contact email@example.com with any questions.
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.