When applying for a scholarship, many people tend to focus on writing the essay, and filling out the application correctly. However this means they often forget how powerful and important the letter of recommendation is to having a winning package.
Three basic things to remember when looking for a letter of recommendation:
*Know your recommender: Its not enough to just ask someone you think is respectable: their letter has less effect if they cannot offer concrete examples of your work and character.
*Know your audience: If you are applying for a scholarship from a fund that supports english majors, a letter of recommendation from a professor in the english department carries more weight than one from the economics department.
*Always avoid family: It doesn’t matter if your uncle is the president of Coca-Cola North America; letters from family are weak and often discounted altogether. Prior employers, professors, advisors, and volunteer coordinators are safe categories for letters of recommendation.
To offer more detail, check out this article I wrote in 2004 on the topic.