Letters of Recommendation Questions

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by F15DOC, Jul 24, 2015.

  1. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    Several questions, my son has received promises for excellent letters of recommendation from a successful and influential group of individuals. These are all people that know him quite well and can truly vouch for his character.
    So here are the questions:
    1) Do these letters go to the academies, ALO/BGO, Senator/Congressman?
    2) Which would you think are more important, high ranking military (3-4 stars) or past academy graduates or perhaps individuals with a compelling story/connection? One such individual is the father of a young LT, USAFA Graduate that was killed in the line of duty by enemy fire while in Iraq, and his father wants to help my son gain admission to the USAFA.
    3) Do these letters really matter much? (I am sure that just about all applicants have similar groups of distinguished people that are willing to write them letters.)
     
  2. Patriot2119

    Patriot2119 Member

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    The letters of recommendation are not required for the academy (but your son should try his best to send three in), and some congressmen/senators require them as part of the nominations process while others don't.

    Don't put too much thought into the writers title when asking for a letter. What matters most is that the writer knows your son well, and can vouch for his character. You should ask for letters from the three people who know your son the best, regardless of their title.
     
    Midwest likes this.
  3. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Patriot made a statement that should be repeated to many folks:

    Don't put too much thought into the writers title when asking for a letter. What matters most is that the writer knows your son well, and can vouch for his character. You should ask for letters from the three people who know your son the best, regardless of their title.

    I can't speak for USAFA in this one instance as I don't sit on the admissions board there, as an ALO. LONG ago I had that chance. But I do work closely with MOC's here in AZ; both House and Senate, and THIS is where the letter's are closely scrutinized. The title of the writer...that "can" be nice; IF IF IF...example: I once sat on a board and read a letter...filled with praise about a young lady, signed by an army major general. The letter had what senior officers call "solid platitudes." That is, all the correct words/phrases were there but...it rang a bit...hollow? The father had served with the general several times, etc. However I doubt he could have identified the young lady in a crowd of two.

    Another (OTOH) I once read was hand written in "old fashioned penmanship" by a retired USAF 4-star whose name would be recognized by many on this board. It spoke about a young lady, the daughter of an officer that the general had in his squadron as a lieutenant when the general was a squadron commander. It spoke of how he'd taken this officer onto his staff, been highly impressed, mentored him, was with this pilot in a combat zone when the daughter was born; sat with him as he called home (no, not Gen'l Welsh) and heard the wife and newborn, and then they flew combat the next day. And later this officer was his aide, etc...etc...

    The general knew the young lady VERY well, her achievements, everything, and could tell us everything we could want to know and he gave us his personal e-mail and cell phone to contact him with any questions.

    THAT was a letter.

    The fact it was a rather prominent general was "cool" but letters like that, and I have seen a lot of them, could be signed by a school official, a minister/priest/rabbi/imam, boss from work...the board wants a letter from someone that truly KNOWS the candidate and will give them a clear picture of who this person is.

    So...don't hunt titles; hunt for great recommendations.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
    Smalltowngirl and AROTC-dad like this.
  4. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    That is outstanding advice for him, thank you both!!
     
  5. MombaBomba

    MombaBomba Member

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    This is true for letters of recommendation for "traditional college" as well. Get someone who knows you, values you and can say more than the usual "platitudes."
     

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