Yesterday I got a packet requesting a recommendation from a former student. The packet was astounding and delightful: it was everything I could have wanted to write her a great recommendation and more. Here's what the student did:
--emailed me ahead of time to let me know the stuff was coming, reminding me of which class of mine she was in
--included a detailed letter explaining her current situation and plans, thus why she's requesting the recommendation
--included a current resume
--included the appropriate form, and a pre-addressed stamped envelope
--included a printout from the website of the program she's applying to; this describes the program and its core courses, so I have a good sense of what its demands are
--included a copy of a paper she wrote for my class; this is in fact a photocopy of the version I returned to her, so my marginal comments are on it as well
So I have here everything I need to write her a detailed and useful letter. I was already pleased to recommend the student, and now I'm extra delighted. Now I can and will also mention how extremely organized, thorough, and considerate she is. The recommendation I will write her will glow in the dark.