Who Receives Letters of Recommendation?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' 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. FalconsRock

    FalconsRock Parent

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    LORs are submitted directly to the academy and to the MOC as well. They do not go to the ALO or BGO unless they ask for a copy. They can be sent one at a time, or all at once. Each MOC may have different methods of transport, such as sealed, sent directly from LOR writer to MOC, or sent by the applicant. My DDs congressmen requested that she send them in herself and to be sure she made a copy before sending. She is not required to have them sealed, but I do know some MOC require that. As far as the AFA, LORs can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to your AC. Not sure about the other academies as my DD is only applying to AF. The letters do matter and you should send in 3 and no more. It does not matter who writes them , but it should be someone who knows your candidate well and can attest to his character, leadership, integrity and experience. IMHO, having a letter from a coach, scoutmaster, church clergy who has known your son for many years would have much greater impact than one from a 3 star general who has only known your son for a short time. If the general has known your son all his life, well, that's a different story. :) Hope this helps and good luck to your son.
     
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  3. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    USNA requires letters from your son's junior year counselor, Math, and English teacher. MOC's (member of congress) usually will request no more than three letters of recommendation and the letters you describe would be better suited for them.

    Your son (not you) will have to ask himself a key question before he can choose who the best letter writer would be. That question is "who knows me the best?." IMHO, the MOC's would rather see a letter from a scout master, or a little league coach who can tell an anecdote about your son's character, then receive a "generic" letter from some 3 star who may have met your son only one time.

    My son's best letter of recommendation came from the manager of the movie theater where he worked. He went on about his great work ethic, attention to details, quickness to learn, and interest in serving the customers. It was clear that he knew my DS and knew him well.
     
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  4. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    Thanks guys, and let me say once again, the only people that would write letters for him are people that know him well. They are friends and neighbors that have know him for 10-15 years, so their opinion means more than a scoutmaster that may have known him for a few years. I would never put any merit on a "casual acquaintance".
    But back to my main question, I think you guys answered it well, do we send the LORs to the academies? Sounds like that is a yes, and they only should get 3.
    I am assuming those are "personal" LORs in addition to the required MATH/ENGLISH/OTHER teacher-counselor LORs, that is correct ?
     
  5. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    Doc:
    This might be helpful to you. It's from the USNA Admissions FB page:

    Additional letters of recommendation are not required for admission to the United States Naval Academy. Our application for admission already includes the requirement for written input from your math and English teachers, counselor and Blue & Gold Officer. This input provides us with more than enough information to make a determination on behalf of... each candidate. Additional letters of recommendation will only be meaningful if they are provided by someone who has observed you for a long period of time and can provide information about your overall qualities that is not already provided in other parts of the application file. For example, a letter from an official who has had direct observation of your participation in an activity and/or performance in a leadership position may be helpful to the Admissions Board.

    If you do ask someone to write a letter on your behalf, please have them include your name and candidate number on the letter. Letters should be mailed to the following address:


    Office of Admissions
    52 King George Street
    Annapolis, MD 21402

    Source:
    https://www.facebook.com/NavalAcademyAdmissions/notes

    Also, the Nevada BGO's have a website that offers some opinions on supplemental LOR's. Here is that link.

    http://www.nevadausna.org/AdmRecommendLetters.asp
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2015
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  6. FalconsRock

    FalconsRock Parent

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    F15Doc, the three LORs are in addition to the 11th or 12th grade math, english teacher and other counselor evaluations. So in essence, he will have 6 people evaluating/recommending him. Gokings814 posted some great and helpful information.
     
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  7. 2018midmom

    2018midmom Member

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    The Afmissiond board will really only consider LORs Forman additional source (other than Math and English teachers and BGO interview) if they add additional info. 3-4 LIRs saying you are great and should get an appointment will not help. An additional LOR from a military officer who can say definitively they've known you a long time and you would make a great officer for xxxx reasons is ok or someone who can write about your extra job to help support your family would also be ok. Beyond that, they are not necessary or persuasive.
     
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  8. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    Such an insightful and helpful group here, thanks for the info! He has been reading along with all these posts and now we have a better understanding.
     
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  9. MammaMia

    MammaMia Member

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    One additional point - we were advised on this forum that you can also use a great LOR to support the VP nomination application. Although not required for the VP nom, at least last year the application mentioned that LORs could be sent to USNA (they provided an address). We did not submit any additional LORs for admissions, but DS had a great letter that we sent in for VP nomination application, and also used it for the MOC applications. (The writer was kind enough to make 4 versions, one for each of the MOCs and one for the VP nomination.) I'm not sure if Admissions looks at the VP nomination LORs, but someone at USNA does.
     
  10. brovol

    brovol Member

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    My only question, after reading the navadausna link, is that it refers to the required letters as if they are actual traditional letters of recommendation. With my sons application, he gave email addresses for each teacher and counselor and they did an electronic evaluation which was far different than a letter of rec. it was more like an electronic survey. I ask this because I am wondering should he be asking teachers to also submit traditional letters of rec to the academies?
     
  11. FalconsRock

    FalconsRock Parent

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    The teacher evaluations are done electronically. The LORs are actual letters. Your DS instructions regarding LORs should be in his candidate kit. Read it carefully and follow the directions.
     
  12. brovol

    brovol Member

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    Yes, that is what he did. Just wanted confirmation. I haven't seen the portal; my son does everything on his own, but I wanted to confirm my understanding was correct. So essentially there are three mandatory electronic evaluations, and three optional letters sent traditional style.
     
  13. FalconsRock

    FalconsRock Parent

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    Affirmative :)
     
  14. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    A lot of information in this thread is now becoming misinformation and partially because we are mixing apples and oranges with Service Academies. There are no "optional" LORs for USNA. The guidance put out is that no additional LORs are wanted or needed unless it can somehow shed light in an area that wasn't already covered by another officials' assessment. Since this is a common FAQ, Admissions addresses it (as quoted from their Facebook page above).

    If every candidate submitted 1-3 additional LORs that provided to be just as enlightening as 0 additional LORs, imagine the amount of work/overhead the Admissions Board would have to undertake. By the way, each member of the Admissions Board briefs the candidates packet in front of the entire board...make their life easier by following what Admissions said.

    At BGO training a few years back, Admissions said it is very easy for them to see when a LOR, composed by a Flag/General officer, was submitted because the candidate thought it would "look good." Make sure that if you follow this route, that the officer really knows the candidate well (no different than any other LOR...the person composing must have closely observed the candidate for a consistent period of time).

    As for MOC LORs, you will have to follow their requirements...but I would read those instructions very carefully...do exactly what they ask, nothing more and nothing less.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015
  15. brovol

    brovol Member

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    How would a candidate know whether something was covered in another officials assessment? Essentially they are confidential, thus it is difficult to determine if it is necessary to have someone else make a point in a letter of recommendation.

    Just so I understand, are you indicating that beyond the electronic teacher evaluations it is not an "option" to have up to three written letters of recommendation sent to USNA admissions? I know they should only be address some meaningful first hand knowledge of a candidates character or qualities, but it was my belief that those were permissible, and the electronic evaluations were required. Which is "misinformation"?
     
  16. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    Teachers evaluations are not necessarily confidential....most can provide you an additional copy of what they wrote/submitted or at least talk about the general concepts they covered -- this would be a good idea before considering an additional LOR. The BGO interview would be the hardest recommendation to determine, but it generally consists of what is covered in the interview and how the interview is conducted.

    You could submit three additional LORs, provided they meet the above guidance. The key is:
    My best advice is that if you are strongly considering sending an additional LOR, contact your Admissions Counselor, and they can help you determine if they need it or not. I just wouldn't lob one in, if you are unsure.
     
  17. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Not to USNA.

    Sorry -- and you may not want to hear this -- but these recs aren't going to help with USNA Admissions. USNA believes (correctly or incorrectly) that two teachers who have known the candidate well for at least a full year provide sufficient insight into the qualities in which USNA is most interested -- namely, academic prowess and leadership. The BGO interview will generally fill in the rest -- motivation, interest, organizational skills, more on leadership, etc. USNA also gets a list of the candidate's activities and is pretty familiar with what it takes to be an Eagle Scout, team captain, editor of the school yearbook, head of a service organization, Boys/Girls State, all-district, etc.

    The sole reason USNA accepts additional letters of rec is that there may be a FEW candidates whose only/primary activities are not school related and which thus would be unfamiliar to their teachers and/or the candidate must work and thus has no/few ECA/sports. In such cases, the person who supervises those activities (e.g., pastor, scout master, employer) may be the only person who comment well on the candidate's leadership qualities. IOW, it's not the length of time the recommender has known the candidate, it's what specific facts/qualities can that person discuss that would not be known to a teacher or the BGO.

    Neighbors and friends are almost certain to say something along the lines of: John Doe is a terrific young man who has wanted to attend USNA since he was a little boy. He is a great human being, polite, thoughtful, caring and well-spoken. He has a strong desire to serve and all the qualities to make a fine officer. I can't imagine anyone better suited to attend USNA.

    And it won't help a bit.

    The above said, such recommendations MIGHT be helpful for MOC purposes -- depending on what types of LORs are requested, and that's up to the individual MOC.
     
  18. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    I think USNA's answer of "knowing the candidate for a long period of time" is somewhat misleading. I believe what they are trying to convey, is that the person should know them long enough to write an evaluation in which they truly can comment on their character, work ethic, leadership abilities, etc. In other words, knowing someone for 3 months might be hard (this could well depend on how consistent the observation period is/was). But I think the "long period of time" doesn't necessarily need to be years and years.

    Also, for the neighbors, USNA is primarily looking for comments on how the candidate performs in school and their activities (hopefully leadership type of activities), so they can get an idea of their character, work ethic, leadership skills, morals/ethics, etc in those environments. For the most part, neighbors are unable to comment on these traits, in detail. There are probably certain exceptions, so I would say there could be a place and time this would be appropriate. However, from the eyes of USNA/MOC, if the neighbor is the LOR being submitted, they might ask....may there be a better person who could comment on the candidate's traits? Agree with USNA1985's comments.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015
  19. brovol

    brovol Member

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    I get that they want an honest assessment of academic ability and character or leadership, and I agree that the letters from friends or people who are percieved to be influential should be deemed worthless. Ironically though, the academies are specific that they want an evaluation from math and English teachers, and it does not matter how well those teachers know the student. Many teachers are interested and know kids very well, others don't. Regardless, I know my son got teacher evaluations by two teachers who know him well and will say good things about him. His baseball coach did send a separate letter though to confirm that my son would be named Captain for his senior season; something that happens so late in the year that it would be too late to make a difference in the academies assessment unless the coach sent the letter.
     

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