We came across a letter of recommendation that we figured we’d share with our readers. In this particular case, the letter of recommendation is for graduate school admission. Indeed the same principles that make for great letters of recommendation apply to both college admissions as well as graduate school admissions. This particular letter of recommendation that we’re referring to was written on behalf of the late Princeton professor John F. Nash, the inspiration for “A Beautiful Mind,” a genius mathematician whose pioneering work in game theory earned him a Nobel Prize but whose struggles with Schizophrenia nearly ended his life.
You’ll note that the entire letter of recommendation goes like this: “This is to recommend Mr. John F. Nash, Jr. who has applied for entrance to the graduate college at Princeton. Mr. Nash is nineteen years old and is graduating from Carnegie Tech in June. He is a mathematical genius.” And that was it. But when a distinguished physicist from one of the world’s foremost institutions (Carnegie Tech would become part of Carnegie Mellon) writes that someone is a mathematical genius, people take note.
In most cases, recommenders will have to show this genius through more stories to make for a great letter of recommendation for admission but in this instance, the simplicity of the statement worked extremely effectively. And, of course, Princeton made the right decision. They admitted John Nash and he would in time become one of — if not the — most distinguished members of the university’s faculty. Nash’s was a life filled with accomplishment, with overcoming adversity, and it’s a life Princeton, and the world, will sorely miss.