Writing letters of recommendation to colleges is part of the job of high school teachers, and those who teach Latin probably get more than their fair share. The [ www.escribe.com/education/latinteach/index.html] Latinteach email discussion list, which has been discussing efficient ways to handle what can be a time-consuming and difficult task, has come up with several excellent suggestions.
Make an announcement at the beginning of the school year. Let students know that it may take a few weeks to write letters of recommendation. Always make copies of the recommendations -- even if you email it or post it on an online form. Students may come back for a second one. Guidance counselors and colleges do occasionally lose recommendations and you may be asked to re-submit.
Not Necessary to be Original
Re-use material, but be careful to change student's or college's name. Also, make sure you don't write the same basic letter for two people applying to the same college.
Cost Containment and Accuracy
Tell the students to provide you with stamped addressed envelopes along with the forms.
Ask each student for a list of information about him or her. This list should include honors, extra-curricular activities, interests, and information on their academic achievements, and anything else he or she can think of that might be relevant. Teachers can't be expected to keep track of the lives of all their students and may mix up information if it isn't laid out for them, but students also need to be told this to prevent them from feeling slighted.
Ask the student why you have been selected to write the recommendation. The reason may provide a clue as to what the student is looking for.
One of the Latinteach teachers says she tells the students she expects a thank you note after she has agreed to write the note.
Rescinding the Recommendation
One teacher wrote that she warns students that she has and will again, if necessary, write to a university admissions office rescinding her recommendation should the student fall "prey to severe senioritis".