Mentor and Refer Students

Scholars tell us again and again that they applied because a faculty member encouraged them to do it. You can encourage your best students to apply for scholarships and guide them along the way. You can also send NISO information about a student or students you know who would be strong candidates for prestigious scholarships by sending an email to with the students full name and any additional information you wish to share.

Recommendation Letters

Purdue’s Center for Instructional Excellence has partnered with us to create these “how to” video guides for writing recommendation letters for scholarships.

Reference/recommendation formats vary among the scholarships. There are often strict word or character counts. You may be asked to answer specific questions or comment on specific traits or qualities. In addition, NISO coordinated scholarships require a campus review, and in most cases a nomination process, dictating a campus submission prior to the national competition. As such, NISO provides recommenders with clear guidelines and tips for each specific scholarship to assist in the process and we are always available to answer questions.

Serving as a reference/recommender is your chance to explain to a selection committee why this student is a good candidate for the award. Scholarship recommendation letters differ from job or graduate recommendations in that they should focus on a few select accomplishments of the student. Forget the general superlatives. A letter that highlights very specific examples of why this student is outstanding will go a long way with the scholarship selection committee.

If you do not know a student well enough to write a detailed letter or would rather not write in support of the student’s application, simply decline the student’s request. If possible, assist in identifying other referees who are more familiar with the student's work.