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Writing Resources for Award Applications - Written Statements and Reference Letters

Personal statements/essays play a vital role in award evaluations. This resource offers valuable tips for crafting a successful personal written statement/essay and tips for writing a strong Reference Letter for Ted Rogers School of Management student awards. Each award has specific requirements, so carefully review the guidelines.

  Tips for writing an award application

These tips serve as general guidance to enhance your personal written statement/essay. 

While the committee is already acquainted with your academic achievements, they seek to gain insight into your individuality, values, and how they resonate with the award. The personal written statement or essay effectively illustrates the alignment of your personal, academic, and professional journey which allows the committee to assess your skills and evaluate the degree of compatibility between your lived experience and the award's objectives. 

Write your personal statement in the first-person to showcase your unique qualities, aspirations, and life path.

Provide specific examples of your personal, academic, and professional accomplishments during your undergraduate studies and high school (although you should limit the latter if you are an upper year student). For example, academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, community service, etc. Use measurable outcomes and specific details to showcase your success. Do these experiences support the aim of the award and the instructional text provided in AwardSpring?

It is crucial to tailor your application to each award's specific requirements and guidelines. Carefully evaluate the purpose, grading criteria, and deadlines for each award to determine eligibility and create a plan to write, revise, and edit.

You will need at least two weeks to write, revise, and edit your personal statement/essay. Ensure your statement is free from errors (e.g. run-on sentences are common issues in personal statements), is well-organized, and effectively communicates your ideas.

  Effective and ineffective examples:

The table below showcases effective and ineffective writing examples used in written personal statements.

Key areas

Effective Example Ineffective Example Commentary
  • First-generation student of colour from a predominately racialized community in the Greater Toronto Area
  • My journey has been marked by resilience and determination
  • Growing up, I witnessed the effects of systemic racism and experienced its impact on educational opportunities
  • Despite these barriers, I have remained steadfast in my pursuit of academic excellence and community empowerment
  • Throughout my life, I have faced numerous challenges and obstacles that have shaped me into the person I am today
  • From financial struggles to personal setbacks, I have learned to navigate through difficult circumstances and persevere
Use sociological detail to situate your identity in a specific place and demonstrate your ability to reflect on your life experiences with sufficient detail. 
Effective Example Ineffective Example Commentary
  • Completed 25 courses with high grades 
  • Excelled in coursework in real estate management -Recognized on Dean's List for 4 semesters 
  • Achieved a CGPA over 3.00 
  • Worked on various group projects
  • Completed numerous courses with respectable grades, and earned recognition for multiple semesters
  • Avoid vague statements 
  • Provide evidence to back up any claims you make (e.g. Dean’s list demonstrates high grades).
  • Use quantitative examples
Effective Example Ineffective Example Commentary
  • Gained experience in various industries such as property management 
  • Demonstrated market analysis skills during internship
Completed an internship with an e-commerce start-up (unnamed) Tell us what skills you learned - elaborate with evidence that aligns directly with the award objectives.
Effective Example Ineffective Example Commentary
  • Volunteered at a local housing charity and organized events by working with families 
  • Internship in a real estate firm, gaining hands-on experience in the industry
  • Advocated for affordable housing solutions at local council meetings 
Participated in a single fundraising event for a charitable organization Be specific and use concrete details to demonstrate your goodwill, good judgment, and good character (ethos)

  How to ask for a Reference Letter

Ensure that the person providing your reference is willing and comfortable providing you with a letter of support. Confirm that they have the time and the ability to write positively about you.

  • When asking your reference to provide a letter of support, make sure to relay the award description and highlight the context of the award available in the Instructional Text provided in AwardSpring.
  • Don’t hesitate to let them know about what you would like them to highlight in relation to the award criteria. 
  • Additionally, it is a good idea to have your reference elaborate on the key topics that you have already highlighted in your written statement. 

To ensure that you receive a strong letter of support, it is crucial to provide the reference provider with sufficient time by providing a clear deadline and establishing a timeline to complete their letter.

Provide your reference with the updated achievements and relevant skills that you wish for them to further develop and discuss in your letter of support.

Tips for writing a strong Reference Letter

Remember to remain professional when speaking with your reference. Doing so will ensure a positive relationship in the future and a willingness to speak positively about you.

Thank your reference for their time and willingness to support you. Let them know that you appreciate their effort in helping you succeed.

Make your reference provider aware that they will receive an email request from AwardSpring to complete the reference and reply to submit before the deadline. Make sure you advise them to check all possible spam folders. Emails are sent from

Tips for writing a strong Reference Letter

Share this useful information with the person who will provide your reference letter

This section is for you to introduce yourself and how you know the student. In your letter of support, make a clear and detailed introduction outlining the context in which you have come to know the student and provide your full name, position title, and workplace name.

Be specific when discussing what the student did to stand out. What actions, achievements, or skills demonstrate how the student would be an ideal candidate for this award? What effect did their contributions have on others or your organization or how they benefited you?

If you are asked to provide a letter of support it is crucial to address the award criteria directly and focus on amplifying the skills and achievements the student has already highlighted in their written statement. Don’t hesitate to inquire about what they would like you to highlight in relation to the award criteria.

  1. Subject/Salutation
    1. Include the name of the person the letter is being written for in the subject line, as well as a salutation to the prospective reader
  2. Introduction 
    1. Introduce yourself and state your connection with the student as well as your position title.
  3. Body
    1. Describe the student's positive qualities and how they exemplify the criteria for the reward
    2. Highlight the strengths, relevant skills and accomplishments of the student 
    3. Address the award criteria with specific examples and details 
    4. Include details on why you are writing this letter for the student
  4. Closing
    1. Emphasize why you believe this particular student deserves the award
    2. Include contact details like phone and email address in case further contact is needed
    3. End off with a salutation and signature