Post # 1
A co-worker I have become friendly with and have hung out with a few times out of work has asked me for a grad school recommendation. Here’s the thing, she’s totally jumping into this w/out thinking first. I don’t think she’s doing it for genuine reasons and frankly I don’t think she’s prepared for the time and money it will sap from her. She’s a busy single mom of two, and I’m not saying single moms can’t do grad school…they do it every day and I totally commend them, but I don’t think she has really taken the time to think this through or talk to others who have been through grad school or online courses. I know what it’s like and I did grad school at a time in my life when I was as free as a bird and it was exhausting on all levels. She claims she has been thinking about it for a year but she is the type that she spills everything she is thinking and this came out the blue just two weeks ago.
It seems to me to be a reaction to the fact that her director is retiring (the dept is made up of her as the office assitant and the director) – because of cut backs they may just temporarily give her directors job to someone else who has a couple of office assistants to help wtih the extra work. Recently she applied for an internal job similar to hers and she wasn’t even given an interview and I think she was hurt and felt her skills were unworthy. When the grad school thing came out she was in love with a new grad school every couple of days and finally settled on one that offered all online courses in the program she wanted.
The thing is that she is facing the possibility of being out of a job in February but she is so nieve that she thinks our place of work will just find her another position, but we know the hard truth and have told her to look elsewhere in all her free time and I know she’s not doing that. I suggested she hold off on grad school until she knpws her job situation but she refuses. She’s one of those types that wants you to be her life coach and then ignores all your advice or is living in a fantasy world. I could have simply said no to giving her a recommendation but she needs three and she has very few people to ask and when she asked her psychotic best friend, her friend laughed. So I felt bad and said I would do it. There is an opportunity on the form to say that you recommend the person but with hesitation. I don’t want to deny anyone furthering their education but I don’t think she is making this decision in the right frame of mind. Someone told me to leave out the negative and just explain her positive contributions. I agree she has positive contributions in the work place but will it be enough to survive grad school – I don’t know, right now I’m very hesitant. Everyone has to make mistakes in their life and learn from them but at this rate she wants to start in January and has no time to apply for scholarships and I don’t want to see her waste her money either. What would you do/say on the recommendation?
Post # 3
Hmmm…. has she asked a boss or anyone in charge of her work for a recommendation, you could always suggest someone else to her to write it. I’d be hesitant to write one for someone I couldn’t give a positive review for unless I was supervising them in some way so a letter would be expected.
Post # 4
Her director wrote her one and a professor from 8 years ago is writing her one. She doesn’t interact with many people at work who could actually vouch for her work beyond me and her director. She has no close friends.
Post # 5
I think that you are being a bit judgemental and focusing a bit too much on her personality and not how you know her in a busuness sense. If I were you, I would write the recommendation strictly on how the two of you have worked together. Does she get her work done in a timely manner? Is it usually correct (from what you have seen)?
Her reasons for wanting to go to grad school and the fact that she might be losing her job soon don’t belong in a recommendation.
Post # 6
Never agree to write a letter of rec unless you have only positive things to say. If you don’t think you can write glowing things, politely decline to write the letter.
A side note though- it appears as if you have doubts about her motivation to go to grad school. The letter should primarily be about her skills and abilities. When I write letters of rec, if the candidate has a weakness, I generally choose not to address that area (unless, of course, it is a truly troublesome weakness in which case I would choose not to write the letter).
Post # 7
I agree with DaisyBride – if you know her in a professional sense you should address how you know her as a professional.
The snippits that you’ve come to understand about her personal life or her reasons for applying are just snippits and sound more like gossip then what you would put on a formal form.
Post # 8
Why would she need so many recommendations for grad school? seems like the director and professor should suffice. With that said they have screening factors such as the GRE and GMAT tests that schools use to determine aptitude. I am 8 weeks from completing my MBA, and yes its so hard with the job and wedding- but I commend this woman for wanting to better herself and the lives of her children. Let the school decide if she can hack it, and write her a recommendation based on your professional relationship. Most schools have academic standards; at my school 3 C’s and you are out of the program. Maybe she will love it and excel. It is possible.
Post # 9
I agree with oregonbride. You need to treat it as a professional recommendation. If you don’t feel like you can write great things about her then let her know soon. The longer you leave it the more difficult it will be for you.
Post # 10
I really do want the best for her and I certainly wasn’t going to write anything that I wrote here. For a year and half during some office construction, our cubicles were near one another even though we are in different offices so I witnessed her deal with people and answer the phone but because we are in different offices I never had to give her work. I think wanted the round of personal, professional and academic recommendations and she was using me more or less for personal.
Post # 11
Address it as work-related only.
What is she going to grad school for? Maybe she’s going to pare back on extracurriculers or plans on ditching tv time for book time and it won’t be that hard. I’m in grad school for a “hard” major (engineering) and I could honestly say that something else would be “easy” for me to juggle with a totally full load. I’m looking forward to the transition into business studies! So, maybe it won’t take *that* much time…maybe she only wants to take 3 or 6 credits, not 9? Maybe she is non-thesis? See where I’m going?…..there’s a way to swing it. Some programs are really time intensive and some are MADE for the working professional. I know mine is–it’s a Professional Education Program and they are VERY flexible
Personal recommendatioms are generally not….highly looked upon for applications. They don’t matter as much as the academic and business ones. They don’t *really* care, so just write that she’s like, hard working and stuff like that. She has good character, blah blah. You commend her for wanting to better her life for herself and two childern; she’s driven and will succeed. Not that you don’t think she could do it or she was flaky on her decision (i picked a new school every week until I came across THE perfect school that offered everything.
How old are her kids? I have a lot of coworkers who do grad school with children at home, some of whom are single! It’s very possible–you have to make time to do it. It’s hard to make the time until you really have to…grad school kinda prioritizes that for ya. If she messes it up, it’s her own fault, not yours!
Post # 12
MsMarch2010- It depends on the program but I know in my case I need 3 letters of recommendation for most schools.
If you don’t think that you can write a good letter for her, I would not write one. I’d suggest telling her that you aren’t really comfortable writing a letter for her and perhapes she should ask someone who can write a more academic/business recommendation since personal recommendations aren’t as highly looked upon. If you do write it I would say that you should definitely be honest but still try to focus on her good points.
Post # 13
I wouldn’t assume it’s for a personal recommendation, I know all grad schools are different, but I didn’t have to have any personal recommendations, no friends or family wrote anything, it actually explicitly said not to have friends or family write them for some of the applications.
Post # 14
I guess I am in the minority, but I think that you should be honest about her professional qualifications on the recommendation—i.e., not focus only on the positives and avoid the negatives. If she really is “one of those types that wants you to be her life coach and then ignores all your advice or is living in a fantasy world,” then she is going to probably figure out a way to go whether or not you write the recommendation.
If it asks for her strengths and weakness and one of her weaknesses is that she doesn’t follow through or think things through, then you should mention it in a tactful way that is relevant to the workplace (i.e., not her personal life). Try to give examples of situations where she exhibits said qualities instead of saying “she is hard working” or “she is irresponsible.” It sounds like her character speaks for itself, and in this case, you are only speaking on behalf of her evident character.
Post # 15
I don’t understand why you wouldn’t recommend her without hesitation. From everything you’ve said, it sounds like she has some growing to do, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t excel in grad school – unless you think she’s so flaky that she wouldn’t follow-through with her assignments.
Don’t make assumptions that she hasn’t thought it out. Her path to grad school may look very different than yours, but it doesn’t mean that her way is necessarily wrong or inappropriate.
You have the benefit of hind-sight and know how demanding it will be and it sounds like you think she isn’t serious enough about wanting to go or in denial about how hard it will be. Because you agreed to do the recommendation, I think if you decide you have reservations about her going, you should be upfront and tell her that after reading the form, you don’t feel comfortable giving her the recommendation. At least give her the opportunity to find someone else.
Post # 16
Is it a recommendation based on life situation? Or based on her ability to perform academically? That would change a LOT about what I would write.
Be honest, but stick to what they’re asking you – and check whether or not this letter can be released to her. To be on the safe side, I’d recommend not writing anything you wouldn’t want her to read – I’ve been surprised over the years by the way confidentiality is sometimes lost on people.