Things I look for when writing a college recommendation:

0. What was the student's grade?  Alas, such things matter.
1. Is the student professional?  Does the student come to class
   every day and work hard or does the person goof off too much?
2. Does the student persevere?  Sometimes, problems can be rather
   challenging.  Does the student surrender or fight through it,
   seek help, talk to peers and/or teacher, etc.?
3. Does the student ask questions?  What is the nature of those
4. Is the student able to work well with others?