Teachers, Counselors, and Recommenders

About the Flinn Scholarship recommendation

Academic/Teacher Recommendation

Only a high-school teacher who has given a letter grade should complete the Academic Recommendation for Flinn Scholarship applicants. Teachers should accept a request to provide a recommendation for the student only if they know the student well enough to respond to the following questions:

  • Provide an example of this student’s intellectual curiosity, growth, and maturity. (200 words max)
  • Provide an example of this student’s integrity and interpersonal skills. (200 words max)
  • Every student adds to the classroom learning environment in some way. Knowing that all Flinn Scholarship applicants are excellent students who are at, or near, the top of their class, how does this candidate enhance your classroom learning environment? What is different in your classroom when this candidate is, or isn’t, there? (200 words max) 

Leadership/Service Recommendation

A teacher, counselor, coach, employer, or community member may complete the Leadership/Service recommendation for Flinn Scholarship applicants. A recommendation from a relative or family member is not allowed. An individual should accept a request to provide a recommendation for the student only if they know the student well enough to respond to the following questions:

  • Provide an example of this student’s ability to influence, empower, and inspire others. (200 words max)
  • Provide an example of this student’s commitment to service and concern for others. (200 words max)
  • Provide an example of this student’s earned respect of peers, community members, and/or leaders. (200 words max) 

Counselor Report

Counselors will complete a fairly typical report about the student and the school. There is no recommendation as part of the counselor report. You will be asked to upload a student’s unofficial transcript and a school profile. If your school does not have a profile, here is an example from the College Board: https://counselors.collegeboard.org/counseling/advising/school-profiles/sample.

Other information that will be provided on the counselor report includes:

  • Percent of last year’s graduates enrolled in a 4-year college
  • Senior-class size and total student enrollment at your school
  • Total number of students on your caseload
  • Number of advanced courses offered (honors; dual enrollment; AP; IB; Cambridge AS or A level)
  • Community service requirements and minimum hours, if applicable
  • Student’s unweighted GPA, weighted GPA, and class rank, as applicable
  • For homeschool students: We ask the parent in charge of the student’s education to explain why homeschool was the best school option for this student.  

The Class of 2025 Flinn Scholarship recommendations will be due Nov. 4.

Planning for Impact

We encourage recommenders to sit down with the student to discuss the application, review a copy of the student’s work, and talk about additional information that could be shared. This teamwork produces a more cohesive and effective application package.

Below are tips for writing recommendations. Need to know more after you read what’s below? Browse a selection of FAQs for teachers and counselors.

Tips for Recommenders

  • Talk with your Students

    In your initial conversation with students who request recommendations, ask for a description of the scholarship, its criteria, and the reason the students have asked you to write a recommendation. (Are they asking because they earned a high grade in your course, or because they successfully confronted course material that did not come easily for them? From their perspective, is there a distinctive role you have played in their development and future?)

    Your recommendations should establish the duration and nature of your relationship with each student. Consider whether you have seen these students in multiple contexts and/or outside of the classroom: Ask the students if there are episodes in their lives, or specific projects you supervised or observed that they hope you will address in your recommendation.

  • Orient the Reviewers of the Application

    Your recommendation helps reviewers understand your students’ environment. We want to learn how effectively and creatively students have used the resources available at their school and in their community, and how they have exercised initiative by making new opportunities for learning and impact. This exposition helps us see what features in students’ learning environments and communities are most important to them and helps us account for variations in resource bases at different schools/communities.

  • Complete the Portrait

    You see your students often and can write with authority about how they think and act in your classroom or in the community throughout the year. You can assess their intellectual and personal growth, insights, and leadership, as reflected in class discussions, written work, or community involvement.

    How do they approach questions? What problem-solving strategies do they use? How do they take initiative? How do they demonstrate love of learning? What are their passions, and how do they pursue them? How do they share enthusiasm for ideas with their peers and with you? Answers to such questions are often most effectively conveyed by specific stories that catch readers’ attention.

    When possible, use your recommendation to indicate the progress and growth of your student over time. Avoid exaggerating claims for students’ accomplishment or ranking among students you have taught throughout your career. Committees do notice when a recommender describes multiple students as “The single best I have encountered in 20 years.” Such claims essentially negate the value of that person’s recommendations for all of their students. You do not have to compare your candidates to each other or rank individual students, especially if you are writing for more than one in a given application cycle.

  • Declining to Recommend

    Do not agree to write a recommendation if you have reservations about a student’s performance or character. In such a case, we suggest that you inform the student of the depth of your concerns and give the student an opportunity to choose another recommender. You may also decline a request if the student offers inadequate advance notice. (Two weeks is usually considered acceptable; three, preferable.)