The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is a very prestigious national awards competition. Its purpose is to recognize and encourage future leaders and policy makers. Only 75-80 scholarships are awarded each year, and virtually every candidate will be in the top ten percent of their class, demonstrate evidence of leadership, and engage in sustained community service. Therefore, an effective letter of recommendation must go far beyond the standard, boilerplate letter to a graduate or professional school admissions committee.
Your letter must be a very specific one, written especially for this student and for this competition. The selection committee will look for evidence of leadership, moral integrity, and intellectual independence in the application, and your letter should emphasize the ways in which the candidate displays such qualities. Successful candidates will be those who "walk the talk" and can demonstrate ongoing pursuit of their stated ideals and goals both in the classroom and in their activities on- and off- campus. You may find it helpful to sit down with the candidate and discuss his or her academic work, extracurricular activities, and future
Applicants should give you a cover sheet indicating which aspect of their applications you are being asked to write to: academic potential, capacity for leadership, or motivation for public service. They should also provide you with drafts-as they revise-of their applications.
Here are a number of samples: