Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Organizing recommendation letters

A novelty this year: I have several students who have created a google document in excel format listing the places where they have applied, how to send a recommendation letter, and a column for each letter writer to mark when they actually do send the recommendation letter.

I find it convenient. I no longer have to worry about whether I accidentally missed one of the requests. They no longer have to worry about reminding us uselessly.

In addition this gives us new data to mine: when do the various schools send their requests for recommendation letters? How prompt are my various colleagues in responding to those requests? It's all there for us to see. Of course it's not clear what to do with that interesting data. Maybe it's useless knowledge, but I like it anyway. Plus, in our race to the bottom, it's making me realize that I am not the most disorganized: I still have room to spare!


  1. when you are on a PC, you can also see how disorganized other people are!

  2. I did exactly that, and one of my letter writers told me, "I will not look at that spreadsheet" and insisted on email reminders instead. I was happy to send the emails but I thought I would be doing them a favor by organizing things better in a spreadsheet.

    I think some people just get addicted to whatever technology was in place at the time they started their job and refuse to budge no matter how much simpler the newer tools are.


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