Letters of Recommendation (Academies, Congressional & ROTC)

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by birdwatcher4125, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. birdwatcher4125

    birdwatcher4125 Member

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    When DS asks a person to write him a Letter of Recommendation for the Congressmen, the four Academies and the three ROTC scholarships, should he ask for a single letter that he can copy that is generically written about DS wanting to "serve as an officer in our armed forces", or should he ask them to write separate letters specific to the congressman, branch, academy and scholarship?

    I know this must read like a silly question, but we wouldn't want to make any assumptions about something this important, and he doesn't want to ask anyone to write eleven slightly different versions of the same letter if he doesn't absolutely have to.

    Thanks.
     
  2. zoomie81

    zoomie81 New Member

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    He shouldn't copy the letters himself because applicants are not supposed to see what their recommenders have written. This is to ensure unbiased feedback. Recommenders are typically used to writing multiple letters. With word processing software it's easy to simply change the addressee or make a slight change. I would recommend letting them know up front how many are needed and in what format (sealed in an envelope, uploaded to a portal, etc.).
     
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  3. birdwatcher4125

    birdwatcher4125 Member

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    Thank you zoomie81, that information helps DS a lot.
     
  4. FlagFlyingMom

    FlagFlyingMom New Member

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    When my DS reached out to his teachers for recommendations, he put together a packet with his resume and a cover letter explaining his goal for a nomination and ultimate appointment, and included the name of each senator/representative. Each letter was addressed to the specific senator/representative. He then opened an application online with each Senator which prompted him to electronically submit the letters of recommendation in a pdf file. Everything was submitted electronically including his essay, high school transcript and letter of intent. SAT scores were sent directly to their office through College Board. There was no need to mail anything.
     
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  5. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    For MOC LoRs, see what your individual MOCs want. All 3 of DS’s MOCs require submission of letters with application materials and do not expect sealed envelopes. The interview staff will be making numerous copies.

    While it would be great to have a letter writer customize the letter, a “to who it may concern” letter should be fine. The exception was DS’s Scoutmaster, whom we learned was personally aquatinted with each of our MOCs and took it upon himself to personalize each letter.

    My opinion only.

    DS asked letter writers to focus on fitness to be “an officer” so it could be more generic to service branch and commissioning source.
     
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  6. brovol

    brovol Member

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    My son was proactive with the letters and spoke with a core group of individuals, primarily teachers and school administrators who knew him well, and explained that he was applying to each of the Academies, and ROTC. He explained the processes, and that they were largely duplicative in their processes. For those who would be doing the online "evaluations", he explained that process as well and asked that they look for something from each of the academies, and please attend to that asap.

    For the regular traditional letters, he asked if they would be willing and then explained the types of things both the MOC's, the Academies, and ROTC is looking to see. He also offered to email them an example or outline, since many asked for his specifics. He then stayed on the individuals, and when they had a letter written, my son provided multiple addresses for each author to use on separate letterhead, and also provided self addressed stamped envelopes. He also offered to mail the letters himself, but asked for copies so that he had a record.

    Most people are absolutely delighted to help, and are even more appreciative if they're not required to take much time in the process. For some people, even teachers, they are uncomfortable writing letters. Others are just bad at it. Everyone wants to help a kid, particularly one who is trying to get into one of these institutions.
     
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  7. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

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    For MOC NOM's, make sure to fully read their latest website that contains application information. Each MOC runs their own process, so what may work in one part of the country, may not be what someone else requires. They may also change what they ask for from year to year so don't assume what they wanted last year will be the same this year. Part of applying is about following directions, so be sure the recommendations get submitted in the requested manner. Many older threads on this topic as well.
     
  8. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    An organized and proactive approach to gaining the evaluators’ and letter-writers’ cooperation and prompt action, along with supplying key info - all precursors of good junior officer skills there.

    And I hope there was a blizzard of old-school hand-written thank you notes to all the evaluators and letter-writers to round out the process.

    The best leaders for whom I worked always took a moment to express approval, thanks or appreciation, as a balance, to those times when they were pointing out a failure. It’s expected of a teacher to support these efforts, but oh how they will appreciate a brief and personalized note. In this day and age, with texts and emails the norm, the effort in taking pen to paper adds power to the gesture.

    And because I always like to enlist Winston Churchill:
    “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  9. birdwatcher4125

    birdwatcher4125 Member

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    Capt MJ,

    I absolutely agree! I've always had all of my kids hand write thank you notes (like my mother made me do). After a few years they all do it on their own, without being asked.

    When my DS received his Eagle Scout his Eagle counselor told me that in all his long years of service in Scouting DS was the first Eagle to give him a thoughtful, hand written thank you letter. I found that hard to believe, and very sad. He then offered to write DS a letter of recommendation, without being asked!

    It's experiences like this that drive home the need for young people to step away from the smart-phone and go old-school. Societal manners seem only to get worse as time goes on, so the more a young person can better emulate the social behaviors of past generations, the more they will stand out and the better the world will receive them. Not to mention the fact that to consistently practice acts of appreciation will inevitably shape a person's mind away from a selfish perspective on life (as is the fashion of today) and more towards a balanced appreciation of others peoples needs and efforts, as well as a more sympathetic understanding of their faults and imperfections.

    Your advice is excellent, and I hope a lot of candidates read it and put it into practice.
     
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  10. academyboundd

    academyboundd New Member

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    When would be a good time to write thank you notes for our recommenders? Should we write them as soon as they finish our evaluations, once the application is finished, or when we hear back from the Academies?
     
  11. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    Thank them individually for what you asked them to do, after they’ve done it, promptly. Keep a list of people who’ve helped you along the way, and plan to send a Good News email blast - “I am excited to tell you I’ve been offered an appointment to XXSA, and all of you have been helpful to me, whether it was to write a letter, coach me on interview skills, proof-read my essay, give me tips on the basketball throw test, offer encouragement and much more. Thank you for your help in realizing my dream.”
     
  12. birdwatcher4125

    birdwatcher4125 Member

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    academyboundd,

    It's good that you're asking an etiquette question like this, it shows good character. After all, the only real benefit you get out of writing a thank you note is the knowledge that you did a good thing, and that you're becoming an even better person every time you do it.

    I would think any time after they give you the completed letters would be an appropriate time to send them a thank you. But, the sooner, the better. If and when you receive an appointment, those people will hear about it and they will have the personal satisfaction of knowing that they helped you.

    Remember, you're thanking them for their efforts, that is irrespective of whether or not you succeed in receiving an appointment.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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