Field of Science

Please, valued Sir, can I have a recommendation?

TPP gets contacted by former students all the time.  Do you remember me? Generally, yes, my memory of students is quite good actually, and I have surprised some people from years ago.  They often then tell me about what they have been doing with themselves, and this is great, but you'd be surprised how few students actually keep me up to date.  Hopefully social media will help in this regard, but then TPP would have to do Facenook or something like that.  OK, that probably won't work.  "Would you please recommend me for this job/graduate program/professional school?"  Recommendations are part of my job, but did we have any significant interaction beyond the classroom?  Your transcripts tell people how that went.  Did you do any research with me?  Any field work? Any special projects?  If no, then there isn't too much I can do at this point. Admissions people and people with jobs to fill want to know if you have a good work ethic, if you have intellectual skills, and can do research, and frankly, TPP doesn't know.  Maybe, maybe, but to be an honest recommender means TPP cannot say because he has no basis for knowing.  This is why we urge undergraduates to get involved, to interact with the faculty; this is why you chose an undergraduate research university, so that you have faculty who will do these things with you. So it was great to hear from you.  TPP will do what he can. "Would you please provide feedback?" OK, that was not the most impressive bit of email prose you just wrote.  You say you "will be incredibly elated and gracious" to have my recommendation, but when you write like this, it mostly doesn't help your cause.  Be simpler and more direct.  Wish we had worked on writing more when you were a student.  Wish we had talked more a couple of years ago and maybe this could have been a more positive communication. Still you did communicate, and you want to do something new, and those are both good things.

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