What should be in recommendation?

Discussion in 'Nominations' started by Rugbyftbllaxmom, May 31, 2015.

  1. Rugbyftbllaxmom

    Rugbyftbllaxmom Member

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    Hello,
    My son has requested recommendations from coaches and teachers for nominations for as well as for an ROTC scholarship, they have asked what points to hit on in the letters. Is there anything specific other than leadership skills they need to speak to? My son assumed overall character and interactions . Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!
     
  2. MJP

    MJP Member

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    There is no "formula" as each situation is different.
    These individuals see your DS interact with his peers & teammates on a daily basis and can speak to his ability to lead, persuade, support and earn the respect of his peers-whether they be classmates, teammates or faculty.

    Some talk about challenges faced and how they saw DS overcome them. Some talk about support he offered another when they needed it most...and what it meant. Some talk about making good choices. Most will try and tell why they feel DS deserves the nomination or scholarship.

    DS had a letter from his 8th grade history teacher who lead a trip to East Coast historical sites as part of their US history class. They talked history and the significance of various military battles and campaigns of the time and locations and DS's teacher spoke about his desire to attend the Naval Academy and pursue a particular service designation from that young age. DS was specifically asked about that letter in his interview as it was highly unusual to have a middle school teacher write anything. It's not the norm and I wouldn't suggest it as a standard part of any submission, but I can tell you that it had a positive impact on the committee.
     
  3. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    In any recommendation, specifics are helpful. It's fine to say that X is a great leader, great human being, nice person, kind to animals and babies . . . :)

    Seriously, however, what makes a recommendation stand out is the ability to cite specific instance(s) of the above. Telling a single story that demonstrates the character traits the recommender finds exceptional makes a much stronger impression that stating over and over again that the candidate is great. So, for example, take the following two recommendations . . . .

    "Mary is one of the leaders of the class. She is always encouraging others and serves as an example to her classmates. She is thoughtful, caring and always seeks opportunities to help both her school and the community at large. This was demonstrated by her election as class vice president this year." [The end]

    OR

    "Although not a class officer, Mary is a leader of her class. Earlier this year, her class was trying to raise funds for [some project]. The effort was foundering and the entire project was in danger of failing. Mary jumped in and took over the project. Within two weeks, she had organized three specific fund-drives -- car wash, bake sale, and mom's day out. For each event, she [describing specifically what she did in terms of organization and leadership]. In the end, over 90% of her class participated in one of the three events which together raised $2000 -- $500 more than the goal. If there is a project that needs a leader, I can count on Mary to be the first to volunteer, and to drive it to a successful conclusion.

    The above are truncated but hopefully you get the picture. And, of course, there are variation on the above theme -- it need not be about raising money -- it could be leadership in sports or at religous activities or in a myriad of other pursuits. But discussing specific examples drives home the "glittering generalities." IF your recommender is asking for your input, you might remind him or her of a time when you did something to lead, made a difficult moral decision, went the extra mile, etc.
     
  4. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Recommender's qualification and interaction with recommendee should included.

    Some recommenders asssume that since they are teacher, coach, counselors, and etc that their opinion matters. Yes and no. When I read a teacher statying Jane will be a great Army officer, I ask myself how does this teacher know. If this teacher states something like at he served in the military before, several students he taught graduate from Service academies and are successful officers and the kid shows same qualities, or etc. makes the recommendation more believeable.

    I seen letters of recommendation from famous people (i.e. generals, politicians), but most of them don't say how they know the kid.

    Lastly, recommenders should be realistic. I remember reading a letter of recommendation from af SA graduate stating how the kid will make a great cadet and great officer, but his SAT scores were around 500s.
     
  5. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Actually, the two are not always mutually exclusive. However, it might be a stretch to suggest that the candidate has the academic credentials to be a systems engineering major with those scores -- absent other data to support such a view.:)
     
  6. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Yes, absent other data.
     
  7. Rugbyftbllaxmom

    Rugbyftbllaxmom Member

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    Thank you all for answering. Those who DS has asked each know him in different ways, sports/ class/ volunteering etc. , so we weren't sure if they should stick to the sides they have seen or branch out to him as a whole person. For example, he has been volunteering at the VA hospital for some time now, his boss doesn't know about his school or sports other than probably small talk and his coaches , teachers may not know about the other activities outside of school. Writing about specifics is great advice. His coach and teacher s have written on his behalf before but not for something so major so I know they just want to be clear .

    Thank you all again. I am sure I will continue to have questions in this process and am thankful for this forum!
     
  8. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    My DS selected people who knew him from various parts of his life. His scoutmaster has known him since he was 5...tagging along w/ his brothers where he could. He saw his grow up and become a leader. A neighbor who has known him since he was born (and is a SA grad) saw him develop an attitude of service, working for him in the neighborhood. While working on a merit badge, he met with a man who is the president of our county's chamber of congress. He was a USMA grad and worked in admissions there for several years. They began a mentor/mentee relationship. While he didn't know my son as long, he knew him as a candidate and could speak to what he saw in him that he knew WP wanted.
    My point in all of this is that the people you select should not all be saying the same things about you. They should know something that the others do not, if that is possible.
     
  9. Rugbyftbllaxmom

    Rugbyftbllaxmom Member

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    Great thank you very much.. It is greatly appreciated.
     

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