Oh, this first one is for the student: the problem with having your photography teacher write your letter of recommendation is that the things he can speak to—your artistic ability to set up a shot—are not really the things I need to hear about for this particular scholarship application, as unfortunate as it is that the system works that way. I’m doing what I can by giving you credit for “an eye for detail.”

(We tried to stave off this type of problem by saying letters need to come from a teacher who awarded a grade on the transcript. Did you know some schools give grades for “Leadership”, aka serving on student council? You know what’s not impressive? A letter of recommendation that doesn’t have anything to say other than that the student organized prom—really well!)

* * *

“Perfect, teacher’s dream.” Can you back that up with some supporting evidence other than “a pleasure to have around.”? I got some suggestions here.

* * *

When the reason your student has zero honors or AP classes on their transcript is because your school belongs to an organization making a philosophical rejection of the AP system, it would be nice if that were mentioned somewhere, say on the transcript, or maybe you could train your teachers to include it in the letter, seeing as how you are sending out a standard dossier and all.

* * *

“She has distinguished herself with a class rank of 110 of 755!”

* * *

Dehumanizing? I mean, I’m annoyed by those series of checkboxes to rank students, too, but dehumanizing? Also, it’s actually pretty useful for me to know whether the student is one of the best you’ve had in your career, or in the top 2%, or the top 5%. Top 5% in discussion but only top 25% in writing—that tells me something.

* * *

You’re teaching high school, recommending students to college. You don’t need to write your letter in Comic Sans.

Advertisements