Today’s blog deals with that all-important letter of recommendation from your instructor. You may need one in order to get into a four-year college, if you are in a community college. You may be required to provide letters in order to get a scholarship or to get a better-paying job. The very best letter you can get is one that the instructor offers to give you, without your even needing to ask. So, how do you get one?
The first few hints are intuitively obvious, but still need to be included. First, be a good student who shows up on time, who shows up for each class meeting totally prepared for the day, and who does well on assignments and exams. “Okay,” you may be saying, “what else is new?”
Go beyond that, folks. Be pleasant to everyone, from the teacher and the other students, to folks who can never “do” anything for you. Do you know who the janitor is in the buildings you have classes in? Do you ever thank that individual for the work he or she does? Do you greet the advisers, the office staff, and previous instructors with a smile on your face? This may sound silly, but you never know when the instructor you plan on asking for a reference is watching.
Don’t go about like an Eddie Haskel, pretending to be nice and then turning into a monster when the instructor’s head is turned. Be genuinely nice. Ask your instructor how his or her weekend went and pay attention to the answer. Talk to your fellow students before or after class, don’t just show up and clomp out.
I was asked for a reference letter just this past week. The student was in a class of mine one year ago, but I still remembered her because, not only was she a top student, but because she threw herself enthusiastically into every assignment. She never complained about anything, but truly sought to take charge of her own education. It was easy to write a reference for her; she was one of the most involved students I have every met. When she was in class, she was in class with every fiber of her being. I had 150 students that semester, but she clearly stood out. Be that student!
P.S. Eddie Haskel was on Leave it to Beaver.