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Thanks Marcus!

I struggle with knowing how "honest' to be as well. It is a weird game with so many people overselling things, that I worry that being honest will be taken as "code" that a student is not good, and that you have to go way over the top to even give the impression they are ready for a PhD program. However, I think I am leaning toward the side that I landed on with my own application materials. Everyone told me as a grad student that even if it sounded obnoxious, I needed to "sell myself" and basically just write a list of my accomplishments where I try to make them sound as impressive as possible. I did this once. But then I thought about it, and I came to the conclusion that the advice I was give was off. Because real humans read these letters. And very few real humans are impressed by obvious, over the top bragging, whether it be about yourself or someone else. I think sounding sincere is usually helpful. I hope so, anyway.

European professor

Are formulations such as "these are impressive accomplishments for someone before his 30s..." appropriate for a letter of recommendation?

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