It’s recommendation season, and I’m swamped with letters to write. In general, I like writing these letters about as much as I like grading (ugh!). It’s not a genre of writing that we’re really trained in. Plus, sometimes I end up writing letters for students that I’m not totally behind, which is difficult, since I don’t want to lie and say a student is wonderful if I really think that s/he is only mediocre. But I’m a sucker that way; I find it difficult to say no, especially if I feel that I’m someone’s last resort.
But this year is different. All of the people I’m writing for — 3 MA or former MA students and 5 or 6 undergraduates — are all students I believe in, which perhaps makes it all the more difficult. I want to write them each the best letter I can, because I really think they deserve to go on to a graduate program. I certainly don’t want to be the reason one of them doesn’t get to do what s/he wants to do.
As I write these particular letters, however, I find myself getting into a funk, especially as I write some of the undergraduates’ recommendations. There’s a group of them that I’m really quite fond of, and now they’re all graduating. For the first time, I feel the cyclical nature of being a professor: every few years, a new crop of undergraduates show up, stick around for a while, and then graduate.