A thoughtful post from orgtheory.net on letters of recommendation.
I agree with much of it and was surprised by some of it.
I was surprised by the fact that files are often incomplete due to unsent letters. I always send them, though sometimes right at the margin of the deadline. That is too bad for the students / workers involved.
Addendum: an alert reader points out that the link leads to the main page of orgtheory.net. This post was composed (incompetently it seems) by my past self some months ago, and some searching just now did not yield the post I remembered (send me an email if you find it), though it did lead to a bunch of other interesting posts on letters of recommendation, such as this one, as well as their review of Dear Committee Member (which you really should read if you have not already). Julie Schumacher, the author of said book, offers some thoughts on letters as well. I particularly liked her remark that "The word “Harvard” counts for several thick and complimentary paragraphs, the crimson shield on the letterhead reducing the need for encomiums by 30-40 percent."
Who was my favorite student this term?
6 months ago