While in China, I was told (by both Chinese and American professors) that Chinese students expect you to write recommendation letters that they can place in their permanent files.  For most Chinese professors, these letters are relatively standardized, positive, and done as a matter of course without a lot of individualized attention.   I haven’t been asked to write any letters for my former Chinese students who only plan to continue their education in China, but my recommendation has been sought by a significant number of students who want to study in the United States, Cananda, and the UK.  My former Chinese students are surprised to find that most schools (and LSAC) do not anticipate that students will see their letters of recommendation, and are absolutely shocked that I will not send them my letters of recommendation to them for their review.  They insist that I send them the letter for their review, and when I decline the first assumption is that I’m not understanding their request.  I assure them that I understand their request, but that it is best for them to formally waive their rights to review (e.g., on the LSAC form), and that I would have declined to write them a letter if I could not write a positive recommendation.  I’ve very upfront with my Chinese and American students about whether I believe I can write a good letter on their behalf, as well as strategize what key characteristics I should discuss.  But am I being too conservative here?  Should all my students just be able to see my letters first, and then they can decide whether it enhances their file?

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