Jean (& Joyce & others) --
Here's what I ended up saying to the student who'd asked for the
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Student's Name --
I'm sorry, but I can't write a letter of recommendation for you.
When people ask for letters of recommendation, they want more than
evidence that a student has performed well academically in a particular
class (after all, a transcript will tell them that.) They're looking for
information about the applicant's personal qualities that will tell them
that the person is suited to whatever position they're applying for. I
don't think I know you well enough in those ways to write you a strong
letter, which is what you'll need to get accepted in the internship
program and into law school.
I'd recommend that you find people who know you well to write
those letters, even if your highest grades are not in their classes.
OK, it was wimpy . . . after all, I _did_ have information that
would disqualify him, in my view. But I tried to give him the benefit of
the doubt and think that maybe if I'd met him under more favorable
circumstances, I'd feel differently (as much as I can't imagine that.)
I also tried to keep in mind that, as someone suggested, this
person is probably clueless about what makes a good recommendation
letter, and he also might think that the sort of relationship I had with
him was typical of teacher-student interaction. So I tried to, well,
educate him about letters and their context, anyway.
I'm sure, though, that from his point of view, I just sounded
snotty and condescending . . . not much I can do about that, I'm afraid.
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128
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