Friday, December 30, 2011

Facebook is freaking me out. First, some "friends" post stuff they shouldn't. TMI. And, people post political pieces. (I was going to end with "rants" instead, blame irresistible alliteration.) Shut up! I recently tagged one friend's emails as spam for this reason, so now they will go straight to the trash. Years ago, I tried asking to not receive that sort of thing, and the sender was offended! So spam it is.

In recent semesters, I have been asked to write letters of recommendation for a few students who are different than the normal reference seeker. Usually, students who ask me have taken more than one class with me, and achieved A or A- in them. They have GPA >= 3.0. Within that general parameter, they fall into two camps; 1) perfectly fine student who didn't stand out in any way so that I don't feel I know them that well, and 2) perfectly fine student who is memorable in some way - extra hard working, extra charismatic, extra good writer, extra clever ideas, etc. I have a positive, sort-of form-ish memo that I use in the first instance, and I write something special for the second.

But recently, for the first time I have been asked by students who have taken one class with me and got B or B+. This is one of their highest grades, and their GPA < 3.0...way less than 3.0, in fact. Are you kidding me?

So, I'm honest and tell them that they are unlikely to get into graduate school immediately after graduation with those grades, that low GPA is the most common reason for being denied admission. That my class and my recommendation are not strong enough to stand alone. That it is not a life sentence without parole -- they should get experience, take nondegree classes, grow up, and apply down the road. I think I am saving them time, money, and disappointment, but still they want my reference and to take the risk. OK, but what do they think the letter will say?

Caught up on all else, so I am working on research this afternoon. It's a task I'm finding difficult because I receive no feedback. I have to find a way to overcome that obstacle.

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