Saturday, April 25, 2015

Supporting a former student's return to college

Last week I received an email from a former student asking for a letter of recommendation. I was her TA during my very first semester of grad school in 2007, then I wrote several letters of recommendation for summer research programs in spring 2009 (I blogged about it at the time). She then studied abroad in 2010 and I hadn't heard from her since.

In the meantime, she dropped out of college, moved somewhere else, got married, had 2 kids, and is now trying to return to school to finish her bachelor's degree and become a high school teacher. She has been accepted and needs the letter to apply for a scholarship. I very much want to support this woman. She was one of my most memorable and impressive students, and was the first in her family to be born in the U.S. and attend college.

Before I can write her a powerful letter, I think I need to talk with her directly about her path back to school. Her writing could use some editing. She sent mer her personal statement, and I actually have a couple of her old person statements on file from years ago. Her family (parents especially) loom large in her writings and there are some discrepancies between the two versions that I wouldn't expect to change with time. I also saw her transcript and she got some Fs that aren't explained at all in the personal statement. I think that needs to be acknowledged somehow if she's going to get a scholarship.

I'm excited for this student and really hope it works out. Anyone helped a student in a similar situation and have advice?