Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On Writing Letters of Recommendation

I have offered some of thoughts on this subject here, but you should consider these thoughts alongside Lisa Clark Diller's recent post at the blog of The Historical Society, "'Tis the Season for Letters of Recommendation."  Diller offers helpful tips for those of us who write letters on behalf of our students.

1."Be sure you want to recommend this person for this program of study."

2.  "Know the student's experiences, academic and otherwise, outside of their interactions with the recommender."

3.  "Be specific about their academic skils.  I think it helps what papers/reading they have done for the recommender."

4.  "Talk about their disposition for graduate work."

5.  "Connect their experiences and interests with the programs they are applying for."

6.  "Extras"

Read the entire post to see how Diller's develops these points.


Lisa Clark Diller said...

Thanks for reposting, John. Your list of things to tell the students is very useful. The challenge is to find the time and place to get this information to them. We find the people who take our freshman seminar rarely map onto the students who finish out our major. It is tricky to find the right context in which to ingrain these principles into students' heads... But I'll be posting a link to your advice here on our website as soon as possible as one more stab at the on-going task.

John Fea said...

Great points.

We recently started a 1-credit course for first-year history majors called "Intro to History." The course is designed to introduce students to historical thinking, opportunities and careers in history, and the culture of the department at Messiah College. I try to hit them with the letter of recommendation speech in this course.