Presentation on theme: "The Good, The Bad, and the Boring: How to write an effective recommendation for (almost) any student."— Presentation transcript:
The Good, The Bad, and the Boring: How to write an effective recommendation for (almost) any student
The Basics Introduction Academic context Context of the student in the community Conclusion and endorsement
Information gathering Ask for a student resume Have the student answer specific questions or a questionnaire Collect comments from progress reports or teachers Ask for parental feedback or a questionnaire Interview student
The Good Often the easiest letter to write because the student is so outstanding, the letter practically writes itself. Explain the background or situation and why you think s/he is outstanding. Your student doesn’t have to be one of the best in the nation to be one of the best in your community. Give specific details and examples. Help the college understand school and community context and why this particular student stands out. Explain achievements if necessary, give details and descriptions. Avoid hyperbole, even for the most extraordinary. It will only weaken your credibility and thus your ability to advocate.
And as much as you love them, keep it to a page. (With legible font size!)
The Bad Often the trickiest letters to write Know your administration – would a letter with negative feedback cause you future problems? Create a “non-recommendation” with faint or no praise, simply facts Make it shorter than your usual letter Ask the college to call you to speak further about the student, and leave your concerns for that call Be tactful, but honest. Protect your ethics, and the relationship with the college.
( Substitute “fired” for expelled, and you get the drift…)
The Boring AKA: The kid who gives you no feedback, the enigma, or the kid you have never seen before Fall back on the data you have without the student’s input Focus on the positive information you do have, even if it is only one point Avoid creative writing Your letter can still read as very supportive even if the student is not a star Rely on the basics mentioned earlier
Tips and Tricks Make the format of the letter interesting to read. For example, title the paragraphs for the reader, or use alliteration, (Sarah as a “scholar, senator, student of service.”) Use quotes, lines from poetry or songs. (Be careful not to be corny or sappy.) Think about how your community views the student, and if any relevant image comes to mind, make an analogy to paint a picture of the student. "Timmy is the Bill Gates/Tim Tebow/Conan O'Brien of our high school." Explain why. It can make the student stand out vividly in an admission officer's mind. Be creative, passionate, or persuasive.
Do’s and Don’ts Be clear in your description Be concise Don't give laundry list of activities Don't use strings of adjectives Don't include information about you “Show” don’t “tell” - use good descriptive writing Don’t ever “recycle” a letter, specific paragraphs, or even catchy phrases or common adjectives Be honest Simply stated, write what you would like to read
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