I'm in a tiny department where nearly all of the departmental graduate students require a never-ending set of rec letters.
Once I realized I was inundated, I started asking them to provide me with this:
- A short personal statement regarding their teaching.
- A short personal statement regarding their scholarship.
- A short personal statement regarding their interest in the job / grant / fellowship they are applying for.
- Sample scholarly papers written while at my institution.
And now they've stopped asking. Is it really so much trouble to help your rec letter writer understand what their commitment is?
Now, I didn't want to turn them all off. I want to help them get jobs or whatever, but I want them to help me understand why I should.