“My letter of recommendation !” cried D’Artagnan,
“my letter of recommendation ! or, by God’s blood,
I will spit you all like so many ortolans !”
A letter of recommendation is a cornerstone of academic life. It is needed when one applies for a graduate school; it is important when one tries to find a postdoc position; a very strong recommendation letter is a must if one wants to be competitive on a job market and hopes to find a faculty position at a university. People who know say that recommendation letters are even more important than applicant’s publications and CV.
Until recently I always was the one who asks for a letter. Several days ago, one of my former students who attended my Calculus class last fall asked me for a letter of recommendation. She needs it in order to apply for a scholarship. She was not only the strongest students in my section, but also one of the best students among all sections: she scored 195 out of 200 (the highest score!) on the final exam. I will try my best to write a perfect letter for her. To write is much more pleasant than to ask.