State of the Nation

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, April 5, 2010

As spring commences, two of a professor's less desirable job requirements come to fruition: ordering fall books, and writing letters of recommendation (LOR) for students. One of favorite web sites, Rate Your Students, recently discussed the topic of letters, and a colleague was ruing the demand that would be placed upon him.

I told him that I have basically created a "Mad Libs" LOR form:

  • In the first paragraph is the student's name and how I know him/her (usually from the classes they have taken from me)
  • In the second paragraph, I discuss in a sentence or two what each class required, rank the student compared to others I've taught (as I think that telling the employer/grad school that someone is in the top 5% is different from the top 25, 30, or even 50% of students I have ever taught), and try to tailor a couple sentences toward a specific job/grad school application
  • In the final paragraph, I recommend/highly recommend the student and urge you to consider interviewing him/her for the position
So, HR peeps...I know you are busy and do not have a lot of time to pore over many letters of recommendation. So, to save the both of us a lot of time (in both reading and writing the letter), what three things should we academicians REALLY include in that letter of recommendation?


"ruing the demand"?

Who talks like that?

(said in my best Val Kilmer voice)

by Anonymous on April 6, 2010 at 1:48 PM. #

Once a professor just had me write my own LOR and then he signed it. Guess that's one way to handle things if you're busy.

by Anonymous on June 23, 2010 at 7:13 PM. #

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