Greatest/Meanest Recommendation Letter Ever

i-5bb55960dabee781e0f7c6c0b7b3f0e0-idiot.jpgEvery one of us in acadaemia has had our fair share of blathering idiots come into our labs to work. I just wish I could write a letter like this. It's a shame that the letter is not actually going to go out. Ohhhh well.... check it out:

Dear Admissions Committee,

Mr. Bronze Malheur has asked me to write a letter in support of his application to your graduate program. I am dumbfounded: not only am I astonished that he has asked me to write this letter, but also that he has any intention of going to graduate school or that he believes he could possibly be successful.

I met Mr. Malheur when he was a student in my statistics class. He distinguished himself by rarely coming to class and earning a C-. He ranked in the lower half of the class. He then began following me around like a puppy, and, for lack of anything else to do with him, I permitted him to perform menial tasks in my lab.

As a laboratory assistant, he was obnoxious and unreliable. On those rare occasions when I permitted him to collect data, the data were flawed and had to be discarded. He was incapable of being on time for anything, and consistently put his research responsibilities dead last on his list of priorities. He was always very sorry for his mistakes and lapses in judgment, and was very careful to telephone me to apologize at length and make excuses for himself. I know more about this student's personal life than I do about my sister's, and none of it makes for very pleasant reading.

On top of everything else, he is not a very pleasant person to be around. He is a groveling toady, a sycophant. Within a few hours of meeting him, his hollow flattery will chafe like a sandpaper thong. His sartorial decisions leave much to be desired and little to the imagination. The underside of his hairy belly haunts my dreams. He also experiences frequent flatulence; if you admit him to your program I recommend that you stock up on Oust. If your research involves human subjects, under no circumstances should Mr. Malheur be permitted to have contact with them.

In sum, I can think of no one with a college diploma less qualified for graduate work than Mr. Malheur. I suggest you burn his application materials and return his application fee. If you admit him to your program, you will curse the day you were born.

Angry Professor


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Oh dear god... as a current applicant to PhD programs, I can only hope my professors were nicer about me.

There is a legend about one of my undergrad professors: A student came to her and asked her for a letter of recommendation for medical school. Her response was, "It would be a shame if a qualified applicant was rejected and you got in."

When I was applying for grad school, I received very useful advise: ask a professor if they would be comfortable writing you a *good* recommendation letter, trying to pose the question in a manner that gives them a way out if they aren't. It would be bad for everyone involved to create a letter from a professor that's anything less than impressed by the student...

Thanks, now I'm going to have nightmares about the rec letters I'm getting...

That said, it's hilarious, and should I ever end up in such a situation, I will know that I am not the only brutally honest and heartless recommender out there.

Just do what I did, and wait until they've written the letter before you start failing their classes.