Letters of Recommendation

Ryan Duchanois with advisors

Selection committees for national awards receive dozens of impressive and worthy applications. Your letter of recommendation can distinguish a student from the paper crowd and prove decisive in the selection process. University of Arkansas students have strong faculty support, and we appreciate your help. This page offers some tips to help mentors optimize their impact.

  • Detail how you know the student 
  • Illustrate the qualities that you value in him/her 
  • Contribute original information and insight to the application 
  • Offer some basis for comparison 
  • Anecdotes are extremely valuable 
  • Discuss a project or paper that the student handled well 
  • Highlight a conversation, class discussion, or group contribution that impressed you 
  • Address the letter “Dear [Insert Scholarship Name] Committee,” to allow for the letter to be used both for the UA nomination and the national competition.

For more information on unconscious bias in letters of recommendation, we offer the slide deck from a presentation at the 2018 Women's Academic Leadership Workshop given by Paula Warrick, with American University, and Kate Mamiseishvili, with the University of Arkansas: Overcoming Unconscious Bias in Letters of Recommendation (1MB Powerpoint).

Joe Schall’s faculty handbook on writing letters of recommendation: 

Respected for his publications on effective graduate school and prestigious award applications, Joe Schall presents an on-line faculty handbook on writing recommendation letters. Here, he addresses issues ranging from the ethical considerations faculty consider when writing letters to the challenges from the information age. His handbook advises faculty on the best practices when writing letters for students and details what selectors prioritize in winning scholarship reference letters.

“I share with you the goal of finding ways to use your time effectively as you guide students to develop and realize their ambitions.”