A page within Scholarship Resource Center

How to Gather Additional Documents

We have told you that applying for scholarships is a lot like having a part-time job but we also think it's a great way to prep for your future job search. Applying for a scholarship and applying for a job have a lot in common and one major connection is your resume. Your resume is another great tool for you to highlight your past experiences and the skills that you have learned from those experiences.

Not all scholarships will require a resume but it's never to early to start preparing one.

Resume Writing 

A resume is a summary of your educational and professional experiences, and this may include: colleges attended, internships, job shadows, volunteer experiences, work experiences, research or other relevant information, depending on what you are submitting it for. 

Schedule an appointment with Career Services or review their Resume Writing Guide.

Sample Resume

Visit the Career Services website for sample resumes specific to your major or program of study.

How many and what sorts of recommendations are required for your scholarship? You might need one letter or several. An application may require letters of recommendation from professors/instructors, the supervisor of a volunteer, leadership, or work experience, an academic adviser, or some combination.

Academic recommendations

Most often, an academic recommendation that comments on your class performance and your intellectual abilities is necessary. Ideally, a professor with whom you have successfully worked in at least one class would agree to provide a recommendation. To do this, the professor must know your capabilities, either through classroom interactions, conversations outside of class, or a research project. Some professors are willing to write recommendations for students who have done an excellent job in a large lecture class, even if there was little personal interaction.

If you feel that a non-faculty instructor (such as a lecturer, teaching specialist, or graduate teaching assistant) knows you best and can provide the most substantive recommendation, find out whether a letter from this person would be acceptable. Some scholarship competitions require recommendations from members of the faculty, whereas others will accept letters from non-faculty instructors.

Nonacademic recommendations

Focus on the particular criteria and any other background details requested by the scholarship sponsors. If service or leadership experience is required, go to the director of the nonprofit organization in which you volunteered; or clergy who have firsthand knowledge of your ongoing contribution to your religious community; or your college athletic coach or the faculty adviser to your student organization. Some scholarships want a recommendation from an academic adviser or counselor who can comment broadly on your academic success, educational goals, maturity, and dependability. A letter from a work supervisor may be appropriate, if your supervisor can comment on skills and experiences that are relevant to your long-term plans and to your scholarship proposal. A personal character reference from a family friend is generally not acceptable, nor is a reference from a high school teacher or scout leader, unless that person can comment on an important activity that you have continued during college.

Making your request

Be courteous and straightforward when asking for recommendations. Although writing an effective recommendation takes time and effort, most professors and mentors are happy to do this for excellent students. Some ways to word your request might be: "Do you feel that you know me well enough to write a scholarship recommendation for me?"; or "Do you think I would be a good candidate for a scholarship and, if so, would you be willing to write a recommendation?"; or "I'm applying for X scholarship and believe they will be interested in (ex: my performance in your class, the research I've been doing). Would you have time to write a recommendation for me?".

Make your request well in advance—at least three or four weeks before the deadline. Meet in person, if possible. Visit your professor during office hours or by appointment to creating an opportunity to get to know you better and ask questions that will help them write the recommendation. Moreover, seeing you in person will make it easier for your professor to recall previous interactions with you.

If your request is declined; perhaps s/he doesn't know you well enough; your academic performance in his/her class was not strong enough, or you haven't allowed adequate time. In some cases, someone who declines to write a recommendation may be willing to offer suggestions for identifying others who would be more appropriate for you.

When someone has agreed to help you, make the job easier by offering him or her information about the scholarship and why you are applying. You might provide a brief description of the scholarship and a recommendation form, if available; a paper or exam you wrote for the instructor's course (preferably the copy that was returned to you with comments); a rough draft of your personal statement, if you have one, a brief one-page resume. Do not risk offending your prospective writer by offering language or talking points. However, let him/her know why you are asking for the recommendation. For example, you may have received a high grade on a research paper you wrote for his/her course or s/he is familiar with a skill or activity that you have emphasized in your application.

As the deadline approaches, send your recommender a courteous reminder; afterward, send a brief thank-you note. Keep your recommender informed as the competition proceeds.

Once someone has written a recommendation letter for you, s/he will generally be willing to adapt and update the letter for other purposes in the future.


Generally, don't expect to read your letters of recommendation. Letters carry more weight with selection committees if they are kept confidential. Most scholarships committees require that letters of recommendation be submitted securely online; or sent directly to a selection committee; or delivered to the applicant in envelopes with a signature across the seal.

Career Services

Career Services is on campus to help you gain internship experiences, apply for grad school and develop a job campaign strategy. They are a great resource for students who are learning how to write their first resume or editing of a current resume. Guidelines for your resume and sample resumes are available on their website.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center tutors are here to assist you with all your writing needs. Simply stop by Murphy Library Learning Center to sign up for a tutoring session. You may also come in on a drop-in basis if tutors are available.


Ugetconnected offers students and community members a way to easily find, track, and participate in service events in the La Crosse area. With its user-friendly format, it is easy for your students to create a profile and customize their event searches. This can be done either by their interests (like advocacy, education, event support, and many more) or by causes they care about (such as disaster response, health, equality, etc.). What, How and Why information Sheet

How to Write a Thank You

Scholarship are created for many reasons. Some are memorials to loved ones, some are marketing for a company, and some are provided to help pay for your education because the donor believes that students like you can make a difference in the world. You owe nothing in return, except your gratitude.

We strongly encourage all of our students to express their gratitude to the donors of your scholarships by writing a thank-you note. Your note confirms the value of their contributions and encourages their continued support of future students.

The following is a suggested outline of how you might write your thank-you letter:

Paragraph 1:

  • Thank the donor for their generosity in providing this scholarship. Tell the donor how this scholarship makes a difference to your education.

Paragraph 2:

  • Tell the donor a little about yourself—where you come from, why you chose the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, or what field of study you have chosen for a major.

Paragraph 3:

  • Talk about your goals and future plans after completing your education at UWL.

Paragraph 4:

  • Thank the donor again.

Sample "Thank You" Letter

(Your current address in the upper right hand corner)

(Donor's address on the left hand side above the salutation)

Dear (name of the individual who established or is responsible for the fund):

Thank you for your generous award from the (donor/organization name) scholarship program. Your support is helping me to reach my goal of graduating in (term and year) with a bachelor's degree in (name your field of study).

I grew up (insert your hometown here or if you moved around a lot while you were growing up this would be the place to expand on that) where (briefly and accurately describe a difficult financial situation that you have overcome or are currently working to overcome). I chose to pursue (name your field of study) at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse because (talk about why you chose the degree(s) that you did and why you chose to attend UWL instead of another institute, what types of things factored into this decision, and include something about what academic success means to you).

Throughout my time here I've worked part-time while attending school full time and recently started a second job to ensure that my debt after graduation wouldn't be as high and to support myself. My grades suffered last semester because I ended up working full-time and going to school full-time just to make ends meet and to try bettering my future. Thanks to your scholarship, I'm able to cut down on the hours that I'm working at both jobs to be able to focus on my grades.

I can not begin to thank you enough or to tell you how much this award means to me and my future. I hope to one day be able to help others like you have helped me.

With gratitude,

(Your first and last name)
(Email address)

How to avoid scams

Warning Signs

Personal Information

If an application is asking for unnecessary amounts of personal information it could be a scam. Never give out your personal information (Social Security Number, driver’s license number, banking information, etc.).

Application and Other Fees

Never pay to apply for a scholarship. Let me repeat. NEVER PAY TO APPLY or RECEIVE A SCHOLARSHIP!

Guaranteed Winnings

If it’s too good to be true… it probably is.

Unclaimed Aid Myth

The whole idea that millions of dollars of scholarship money go unclaimed each year is not true. Most scholarship opportunities are highly competitive.

Unsolicited opportunities

Most scholarship sponsors will only contact you in response to your inquiry. If you've never heard of the organization before, it's probably a scam.

Failure to substantiate awards

If the organization can't prove that its scholarships are actually awarded and disbursed, be cautious. Many scholarship will announce their winners on their websites.

Typing and spelling errors

If our office gets a scholarship notification with spelling errors we DO NOT add it to our website. We see red flags when individuals are not willing to proofread. Application materials that contain typing and spelling errors or lack an overall professional appearance may be an indication of a scam.

Time pressure

If you must respond quickly and won't hear about the results for several months, it might be a scam. A scholarship scam might say that money is handed out on a "first come, first served" basis and urge you to act quickly.

Notification by phone

If you have won a scholarship, you will receive written notification by mail, not by phone.

Disguised advertising

Don't believe everything you read or hear, especially if you see it online. Unless you personally know the person praising a product or service, don't believe the recommendation.

A newly-formed company

Most philanthropic foundations have been established for many years. If a company was formed recently, ask for references.

Abusive treatment

 If the caller swears at you or becomes abusive when you ask questions, it's probably a scam.

Common Scholarship Scams

Send money up front

Never pay for scholarship information and never pay to apply for a scholarship. The glorious thing about scholarships is that it is FREE money to help you pay for your education.

Scholarship For Profit

This scam looks just like a real scholarship program but requires an application fee. The typical scam receives 5,000 to 10,000 applications and charges fees of $5 to $35. These scams can afford to pay out a $1,000 scholarship or two and still pocket a hefty profit, if they happen to award any scholarships at all. Your odds of winning a scholarship from such scams are less than your chances of striking it rich in the lottery.

The Scholarship Prize

This scam tells you that you have won a scholarship worth thousands of dollars, but requires that you pay a  fee or the taxes before they can release your prize. If someone says you've won a prize and you don't remember entering the contest or submitting an application, be suspicious.

The Guaranteed Scholarship Search Service

Beware of scholarship matching services that guarantee you'll win a scholarship or they'll refund your money. They may simply pocket your money and disappear, or if they do send you a report of matching scholarships, you'll find it extremely difficult to qualify for a refund. 

Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams

Comparitech's Guide to Spotting Scholarship Scams

Scholarship essay

A Complete Guide to Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay: Plan in Advance & Know Your Audience, Follow Instructions & Completely Answer the Prompt, A Strong Introduction is Key, "Show, Don't Tell," Proofread and Seek Help, Read Other Winning Essays

As a unit within the Murphy Learning Center, the UWL Writing Center supports students from all disciplines in becoming more effective and confident writers in both academic and professional situations. On their website, you can find several tools to help guide you through your scholarship essay, including online tutoring, in-person tutoring, workshop information, and many other resources for writing. Check them out here!

Where to Find Scholarships

  1. UWL Outside Database
  2. UWL Foundation
  3. UWL Undergraduate Research and Creativity
  4. High School/Community
  5. Employer
  6. Parents’ employers
  7. Organizations (4H, Lions Club, etc.)
  8. Credit Unions
  9. Online Scholarship Resources