The following is a recommendation letter I wrote in response to a request from one of my students. I have changed the student’s name to protect her privacy. Let this serve as a lesson as to why one must choose one’s recommenders wisely. I told Christina that I doubted she would like what I had to say in my letter, but that I would send it if she wished. In one of her only wise actions of the semester, she declined.
Dear members of the admissions committee,
It is always a challenge to write a recommendation letter for a mediocre student. Fortunately, Christina is no mediocre student, and I write in full-throated opposition to her admission to your institution. I hesitated to write this letter, particularly because I received Christina’s request for it last night in an email reading, in its entirety, “So, I need a rec letter by tomorrow at 11am. Whatever you can do.” I thought about those lines, and indeed about what I could do, and decided to write.
Christina has made herself conspicuous in my class all semester. She is reliably fifteen to thirty minutes late. When she does arrive, it is with a great disruptive heaving of belongings, inexplicable switching off or on of the classroom lights, and several loud sighs. She frequently spends what time she is in class talking to classmates, though this is to be expected after she gave me fair warning during our first week: “I’m a total chatterbox; I just can’t shut up! So I’ll be the one in the back talking all the time.” She has delivered on this promise.
Christina suffers from a dangerously high level of self-esteem and a deep conviction that she is extremely cute and endearing in her foibles. She is also convinced that she is a very shrewd and keen student held back only by unfortunate circumstance. I maintain that Christina is an unfortunate circumstance.
I understand that she is applying to your veterinary technician program. When I consider that the life of the slenderest, quivering nematode might someday lie in her hands, I feel a compulsion to bar her entry to your buildings with my physical person.
I do not suffer fools gladly, and though I am writing this at 1am in order to meet Christina’s deadline in a scant few hours, I felt it my duty to provide this letter so that you might not need to suffer this particular fool at all.
Should you have any questions, I would be delighted to speak with you in further detail about Christina’s candidacy. I would find it deeply cathartic.
Adjunct Instructor in Biology and Animal Science