Nominate a Student
Do you know a fantastic student who should be considered for a nationally competitive award? Please contact Dr. Sarah Stevens (812-461-5357) with some brief information about the student and she'll contact them to discuss opportunities.
Identify and Encourage Student Applications
Students who are competitive for national awards generally:
- have outstanding academic records that would qualify them for admission into first-rate graduate programs
- engage in innovative projects, research, creative, or public service initiatives
- possess integrity and strong character that inspires trust in others
- demonstrate intellectual curiosity beyond their intended career field
- seize opportunities and serve as leaders
- care deeply about the community and diverse populations
If you know a student like this, you don't need to know which specific program is best for them. Just refer them forward and we'll help them find a good match!
Sometimes students may feel daunted by the competitive nature of these awards. Please remind them that SOMEONE will win--they might as well try! Students will also learn a lot through the application process. They'll engage in deep introspection about themselves and their future plans. They'll hone their writing and interview skills. They'll emerge from this process better equipped to take all their next steps.
Selection committees for national awards receive dozens--even hundreds--of impressive applications. Your letter of recommendation can distinguish your student from the others and prove decisive in their selection.
Before you agree to write the letter, make sure you know the student well enough to write a strong, concrete letter suitable to the award. Please familiarize yourself with the intent of the award and the qualities valued by the selection committee. Not all awards value the same qualities in applicants!
Feel free to discuss the specific award with the USI Contact (see Scholarships by Academic Year or by Area of Interest) or Dr. Sarah Stevens (812-461-5357).
Please make sure to meet with the student and discuss their plans. The student should get you a copy of their resume and their essays before you write your letter.
The best letters:
- Detail how you know the student--the more specifics the better.
- Illustrate the qualities you value in them with concrete examples.
- Offer some basis for comparison between this students and others.
- Include anecdotes that reveal the special characteristics of this student.
- Discuss a special project or paper the student handled well.
You may find these resources helpful:
- 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: https://www.e-education.psu.edu/writingrecommendationlettersonline/
- Guidelines: Letters of Recommendation for Fellowship Applicants (PDF) (University of Dayton) – Gives tips for writing national fellowship letters of recommendation.
- Advice for Writing Letters of Recommendation (George Washington University)
- Willamette University has many resources on writing effective letters and specific advice for the Fulbright, Goldwater, Truman, and Udall Scholarships. This site also has sample letters of recommendation for these scholarships.