While I’m complaining about online forms, this is the time of year when students are applying for graduate schools. Writing recommendation letters for our talented undergraduates is really a pleasure – we have a few each year who may have a bright future in anthropology if they follow through with their plans. And it’s gotten a lot easier in the last few years to submit letters, as almost every graduate school has adopted online submission processes.
But it’s amazing how poorly designed some of the online processes are. I’m filling one out now that seems to have been put together by software designers who didn’t know much about universities. For example, “Name Prefix” is a pull-down list with “Rabbi”, “Reverend”, “Sister”, “Father” (and in case you’re wondering, this is not a church-affiliated university), “Mister”, “Miss”, “Ms”, “Mrs”, “Honorable”, and “Doctor”. But no “Professor”!
Meanwhile, I can type into a text box, or upload a letter, but I can’t cut and paste into the text box. And the web form has my pet peeve – if they get 95 percent of their letters from US recommenders, is there some reason why we all have to scroll past Antigua, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the rest all the way down to United States?