How to Be a Person: Writing Faculty Evaluation Letters

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A typical request for student letters.

We’ve all been there–sending overly polite, eager emails to professors, asking for countless letters of recommendation. By some miracle, professors almost always accept the request. Occupied with studying, work, and friends, we rarely remember to thank our professors for their efforts. However, requests for faculty evaluation letters give us a chance to return the favor. Here’s a few tips for writing the evaluations:

  • Do it. While these requests often come during busy times of the year, they also come with a deadline far in the future. Over the course of one month or more, you’ll likely have ten minutes to devote to the task. So pause Gilmore Girls for a hot sec, and write the damn letter. Still not convinced? Let’s see if I can be more persuasive. 
  • Be honest.  You should present an honest assessment of your experiences with the professor. Dishonest statements contribute little to the evaluation process and do nothing to benefit future students. That being said, the Provost’s Office probably doesn’t want to know if you have erotic fantasies about your Professor being a brony or about that one time that you talked about your mutual love of canned cheese. Less is more.
  • Grudges aren’t great. If you’re still harboring hard feelings about receiving a B+ instead of an A- on last semester’s final, it’s OK. What’s not ok is to write an entire letter describing how the professor is an “intellectu-fool” and Imeanlikedoesheevengohere. Probably too many feels. Try to honestly assess your experience with the professor in a way that’s more comprehensive than just mourning your GPA. It’s ok to discuss the professor’s weaknesses, just make sure your letter is not tainted by your anger.
  • Be professional. Write the letter in a formal manner. It should not be in Comic Sans or Wingdings, nor should it be a poem, a Powerpoint or a heartfelt rendition of “I Love College.” Including pictures isn’t exactly advisable either, despite it being very very tempting.

 

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