National Scholarship Resources

Interested in a national scholarship or fellowship? Here are some tips and guidelines that can help you be successful throughout the process.

Please take note of the following professional etiquette guidelines when working with faculty members, participating in interview sessions and asking for letters of recommendation.


  • Spell check all emails
  • Do not use all capitals in emails
  • Send thank you notes within 24 hours of meeting
  • Use “at your earliest convenience” sparingly and in a courteous way
  • Avoid use of “ASAP” and instead offer a specific date (i.e., by Friday) when something is due
  • Do not use strange fonts or colors
  • Choose an appropriate subject heading that reflects what the email is about
  • Use professional and formal language
  • Do not use emoticons or symbols
  • Always proofread for grammatical errors and spelling errors, including making sure the name of the recipient is spelled correctly
  • Use proper salutations and closings (i.e., Dear Professor X, ... Sincerely, Student Y)
  • Have a signature at the end of your email that has your name, title and contact information
  • Always address people by their proper title (i.e., Ms., Mr., Dr.) unless they say otherwise or if they have replied by email using their first name as the signature


  • Turn off your phone and do not have it visible during a meeting or interview
  • If you must take a call, make sure not to share confidential, personal or private information where others can hear you
  • Pay attention to the volume of your voice
  • Do not carry on loud conversations, particularly in a small space or hallways outside meeting rooms/offices


  • Stand while being introduced
  • Unless given permission, always address someone by his or her title and last name
  • Handshakes need to be firm, but not crushing
  • Make eye contact while shaking hands and being introduced


  • Ask a professor with whom you have had a good classroom experience (i.e., received a B or better in their class(es) and met with outside of the classroom) or who has supervised your research
  • Ask a professor five to six weeks before the letter is due so they have enough time to prepare
  • Set up a meeting with the professor and ask for their support in person, if that is not possible then you can ask in an email
  • If the professor agrees, set up a meeting with them four weeks (one month) before the letter is due and present them with a folder that contains the following items:
    • Transcript(s)
    • Resume
    • Copies of papers or projects you have written for that professor
    • Statement of purpose for your application
    • List of due dates and addresses/procedures where the professor must send the letter and indicate whether recommendations are submitted electronically or by mail
    • Addressed envelope(s) with postage for mailed recommendations
    • Basic information about the opportunity for which they are recommending you
  • If, for any reason, you no longer need the recommendation make sure to let the recommender know immediately
  • If a form accompanies the recommendation, prefill forms with recommender name and title
  • Two weeks before the recommendation is due, email a gentle reminder
  • Send another gentle reminder 1 week before due date to prompt a confirmation
  • If no response, four days out visit recommender during their office hours to remind
  • After the recommendation is written, thank all of your recommenders
  • Finally, once you hear from the position or program you have applied to, let your recommenders know the outcome and thank them again for their efforts

PDF of Professional Etiquette Matters 

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