Advice Regarding Letters of Recommendation (Spring)

Kristin Ware -

Applicants for programs administered on the Phi Theta Kappa Spring Scholarship Application are selected based on a variety of criteria including academic accomplishments, persistence and leadership potential, campus and community service and involvement, etc.  Each applicant must have a letter of recommendation written by someone who can provide specific examples of leadership abilities and potential, persistence, service involvement, and impact outside the classroom.  In all scholarship programs, judges specifically look for future leadership potential.

This Letter of Recommendation should be completed and submitted by a college faculty member, administrator, dean, employer, or professional at an organization where the student has volunteered. 

Letters of recommendation should be provided on official letterhead and signed by the recommender.  Student applicants will need to upload the signed letters of recommendation into their scholarship applications.  Neither PTK staff nor recommenders will have access to student applications.  Recommenders should provide the following information in some format in the letter of recommendation:

  • Name
  • Professional title and organization
  • Academic discipline (optional)
  • Email
  • Phone number

Providing the relationship to the student applicant in the body of the letter helps judges to understand the perspective from which the recommendation was written.  Including this relationship could strengthen the recommendation.

Below are some questions recommenders may consider addressing in the letter of recommendation:

  1. Do you feel qualified to assess this student’s leadership potential?  If so, include a brief description of the applicant’s ability to persist and a brief description of the applicant’s leadership ability.  (see examples below how possible ways to answer question)
    • Student has very limited participation in activities and no leadership roles.
    • Student participates and is committed to activities, but usually does not serve in a leadership role or take on responsibility.
    • Student is committed and comes up with creative solutions to solve problems, but action taken is limited, does not leave impact, or is not difficult to achieve.
    • Student shows originality and creativity in solving problems, works to solve difficult problems by engaging many groups of people, but solution is short-term.
    • Student shows originality and creativity in solving problems, works to solve difficult problems by engaging many groups of people, and is able to impact long-term solutions which will impact many people in the future.
  2. Does the student seek challenges to grow into a stronger leader?
  3. What is the applicant’s most distinguishable leadership characteristic?
    • Cite specific evidence you have from the student’s involvement in campus or community activities.
  4. Give a specific example of how the applicant demonstrated servant leadership, and articulate the impact of their involvement.
    • Judges consider undertaking of difficult tasks, creativity solving problems, motivating others, lasting impact to school or community, etc.
  5. Does the applicant motivate others and serve as a positive role model?
  6. Do you have any concerns about this student’s character?

**Letters of recommendation that have been requested by the applicant via the Phi Theta Kappa website are not acceptable and should not be submitted.**

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