My single biggest qualm relates to student hesitancy to provide me with their transcript. Students will send me their resume and their cover letter (maybe), and then ask me if I need anything else. (Well, duh -- I need your transcript, too.)
I think students feel self-conscious about sharing their transcript, perhaps thinking that if I saw the C+ they received in Torts, I would think they were dumb. But I'm quite used to seeing grades and whatnot, and am just looking for information on the candidates strengths and weaknesses, so that I can frame the reference letter ("Yes, so and so got a C+ in Contracts, but that must have been unrepresentative; she clearly displayed smarts and legal acumen in my class.")
My best advice for requesting letters: make it *easy* on your recommender. Give the recommender specific informatoin on the job, why you are applying, your grades, your resume, and any other information. Do not cryptically ask for a generic recommendation and attach only your resume.
I would never refuse a recommendation from a student who received a strong grade in my class, unless something weird was going on. But the better I know you, the better your recommendation will be. If I barely know you and you send me little information, the recommendation letter will look largely canned and might not help you that much.
I prefer personal meetings. If a student emails me and asks for a rec, I always say that we need to meet in person. If they've since graduated, I request a phone call.
kalvano wrote:What's appropriate when it comes to letters of recommendation? At what point do you feel comfortable writing a student one? Is one class with an office visit or two and a good grade enough? Or does it need to be a more personal level than that?
And how do you prefer to be approached? Schedule an office visit, ask in an email, ask after class one day?