'' My daughter wants to change colleges, and she asked a professor for a letter of recommendation. We received the letter, and it strikes me as overly positive.

My daughter has worked hard to get decent grades, but from the contents of this letter, you would think she was the most gifted student ever to attend that college. 

Basically I don't believe that what her professor is saying is true.

Maybe he's just trying to be helpful, or possibly he used ChatGPT, but I feel uneasy. Should I submit it anyway? [ Name Withheld ]

' I'D HAVE THOUGHT that the better practice was to send letters of recommendations to the college in question, not to the student.

But however this letter was produced - whether it involved ChatGPT or a Ouija board - the professor has offered it as his view. You haven't been in the classes and seen the work your child has done.

Your daughter asked for a letter expressing his judgement, not a letter reporting yours.

If the letter is implausible on its face, of course, it might not help your daughter's chance of getting the transfer, and, I suppose, could even hurt. That would be a reason to worry about submitting it.

But your doubt about the letter's accuracy are not a sufficient warrant for concern. Letters of recommendation are so often hyperbolic that a dry-as-dust articulation of your daughter's qualities might be read as unenthusiastic.

[ British letters of recommendation tend to be several degrees cooler than their American counterparts.]  Hyperbole is a figure of speech : an overstatement that's meant to be recognised as such.

So I wouldn't assume that your daughter's professor aimed to be dishonest. He may simply have a better sense of the calibration of such letters than you do - just as the wised up admissions folk on the receiving end will.

The World Students Society thanks Kwame Anthony Appiah - who teaches philosophy at N.Y.U. His books include '' Cosmopolitanism '', '' The Honor Code '' and '' The Lies That Bind : Rethinking Identity.''


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