Math Instructor Letter of Recommendation Question

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by reapplicant_2017, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. reapplicant_2017

    reapplicant_2017 Member

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    I've got a question regarding letters of recommendations from math instructors:

    A little background, I'm a college freshman intending to reapply to USNA as a college sophomore. Today, I asked my Calc II professor if he would be willing to recommend me for the Academy. He told me that, on principle, he will not write letters of recommendation for freshmen. His reasoning was that because the class I'm in a 500+ student lecture, he doesn't have the time or opportunity to get to know many of his freshmen students well, and that it's easier to say no to everyone asking for a written letter of recommendation than it is to say yes to a few select freshmen (I can certainly understand his apprehension with recommending students he may not know very well). However, I explained to him that, after speaking to my old high school math teacher, it seemed that the recommendation process was more of a questionnaire about academic performance than it was an actual written letter of recommendation. On these grounds, my professor said that he would be willing to recommend me only if the process is filling out a questionnaire, not actually writing a full letter.

    I tried to do some additional research on this subject, and managed to find some more posts here that seemed to back this information up ( https://www.serviceacademyforums.com/index.php?threads/teacher-recommendations.50691/#post-502243 & https://www.serviceacademyforums.com/index.php?threads/teacher-recommendations.48833/#post-488091 ). However, this was all I found so far, and I was hoping to get a more firm answer. My question is, am I correct in my assumption that the recommendation process from math instructors is more of a questionnaire, and not an actual letter to be submitted?

    Thanks in advance to anyone who may have more information on this subject.
     
  2. pintail

    pintail Member

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    In my DS case he had a letter of recommendation from his college algebra professor and in the eleventh hour admissions told him he could't use it. The first week of march he had to get a recommendation from his current calculus professor ( who was extremely busy ) and provide it. Ironically admissions closed his application in less than a week, sent us a TWE informing us because of incomplete records even though it was complete before hand. The next day they received the updated recommendation and reinstated him as CPR. Two weeks later he got TWE again. 3rd time applicant. 2nd year in his schools only ROTC ( Army ), squadron leader. Loves it, plan B's do work, will sign his contract this fall. Maybe admissions could shed some light if you call them. Good luck with it, it will work out!
     
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  3. brovol

    brovol Member

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    I think there are better people to answer this than me, but because responses so far have been limited, I will offer what I know. My kid applied last year to USMA, USNA, and USAFA, and although the processes are a bit different, all were extremely similar. Unfortunately, it is getting harder to remember which distinguishing characteristics apply to which school. LOL.

    With each academy there are traditional "letters of recommendation" which can come from a limited variety of people; including teachers. For some reason I think I recall that those were more optional than required. What is more important are the "teacher evaluations", which must come from only Math, English, and science teachers from either senior or junior years. This would be the evaluation that your college math teacher would need to do, and it will be essentially an online survey, with specific questions, and a rating. Then, I believe, the teacher has the opportunity to offer comments about the student.

    I would emphasize to the professor how important it is, and tell him how much you would appreciate as favorable review as possible. Tell him you know it is impossible to get to know each student in a class that size, but that you would be delighted to spend as much time as he would like with him, and answer any questions, if it would make him more comfortable. You can easily distinguish this "evaluation" from a letter of recommendation, because they are significantly different.

    Good luck.
     
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  4. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    This is one of those situations where "opinions" from those on this Forum are dangerous. I recommend that you contact your BGO or Admissions directly, lay out the situation as you have done above, and for their advice. Unless your BGO has dealt with this issue before, I would expect they will reach out to CGO for direction, so make it easy on your BGO by laying out the issue completely so he/she can simply forward the question to CGO.
     
  5. reapplicant_2017

    reapplicant_2017 Member

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    Thanks for the advice! I did mention to him how critical this evaluation was, and how I believed this evaluation was much different than a letter of recommendation, and I think that's the main reason he agreed to it in the end. I do make an effort to have him know me - I always ask him questions after lecture and go to office hours when I can, but even then, I know he can only get to know me as a student on a very basic level. I'm hoping that my graduate teaching assistant can give my professor a better idea of what kind of student I am, since I spend a lot more time with my TA than I can with my professor.
     
  6. reapplicant_2017

    reapplicant_2017 Member

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    I definitely intend to ask about it. My representative is holding an "Academy Day" on Saturday where I'll be able to meet with my BGO, so I intend to ask him then. I might also call the admissions office to see what they have to say about it. Thanks for your help!
     
  7. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    Make sure you follow up with email, particularly with the BGO. Make his/her job easy by putting it in an email format that he /she can simply forward to CGO, as well as cut and paste into the Student Notes section of the BGIS system. This sounds like one of those gray area issues or judgment calls that CGO may have to make, and making it easy to annotate your file goes a long way.
     
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  8. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO 10-Year Member

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    The form consists of both a questionnaire and a free-response section. The free-response is not submitted as a traditional letter, rather as comments about the student (i.e. a few paragraphs). I would re-engage your professor (reference below webpage) and state that it is a USNA requirement (see last bullet below) that the recommendation come from this professor. From your explanation, it sounds like the professor is reasonable and if you show him/her the requirement, most likely he/she will do it. If that does not resolve the issue, then I would recommend engaging your BGO and the Admissions Office (as OldNavyBGO stated).

    https://www.usna.edu/Admissions/Steps-for-Admission/Previous-Candidates-and-College-Candidates.php
     
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  9. reapplicant_2017

    reapplicant_2017 Member

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    Thank you for the information! This is exactly what I was looking for when I asked this question.
     
  10. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO 10-Year Member

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    Completely agree. I know most individuals are trying to be helpful, but the below statement might cause confusion, as USNA does NOT allow teacher recommendations from science teachers.

     
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  11. Norfolk63

    Norfolk63 BGO and MidDad 5-Year Member

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    The key word is "Evaluation."
    The candidate is not looking for a recommendation. DS ran into an issue with a hs teacher who claimed that being a Jehovah's Witness, she was unable to "recommend" any student for the military. However, since it was an "evaluation," she finally agreed.
    :blowup:
     
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  12. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO 10-Year Member

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    Norfolk63 brings up a good point...it is more of an evaluation than recommendation, even though USNA refers to these submissions as "recommendations."
     
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  13. brovol

    brovol Member

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    ...unless you read the entire post, which qualified the conclusions, first by conceding that others would likely give better information, and further that after a year it is difficult to remember the distinctions between the three academies. The basic message was that the evaluations are not letters of recommendation, but more like an online survey, with an opportunity to make comments. I don't think there was anything materially wrong; particularly considering the advanced qualification. But nitpicking can become sport.
     
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  14. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO 10-Year Member

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    Then why not let the subject matter experts provide the information, knowledge, and way forward? Can you recall a post that wasn't answered by one of the resident experts in a reasonable amount of time? I'm not here to get into an argument...but I do think it is important that the right information gets out and if it is hard to distinguish between the 3 SA admission processes, then how can you be sure you are putting out the correct information?
     
  15. brovol

    brovol Member

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    I answered the question which was asked, and answered it correctly. Actually, I don't think you did, as you said letters of "recommendation" can't come from a science teacher, when in fact it should have been "teacher evaluations".

    Your posture, sir, is more counterproductive than my post for sure. This is an internet forum, and not an official site of an Academy. We do the best we can to help folks out, just the same as we do if we were speaking to them directly. I may not be a mechanic, but if I had the same issue with a car I would offer what insight I learned when I got mine fixed, and as I did here qualify it by saying "I'm not sure if this it it, but...."

    I think my original post is accurate to the question asked, was helpful, is consistent with the other answers here, and was offered in the spirit of assistance. Your post seems to discourage others from sharing valuable insight, as doing so may lead to unfair, and inaccurate criticism.

    ....but I'm not looking for an argument either.
     
  16. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    Just as cars are different in terms of brand and year and features, so too are the SA admissions processes. Likewise, processes change over time. The way things worked when a candidate or a parent in Year X went through the process may be outdated/inaccurate in Year Y.

    BGOs are required to participate in training every few years to ensure our information remains up-to-date. We also can consult with our Area Coordinator, other BGOs, or with Admissions if we don't know the answer. But our info is limited to USNA and its processes and procedures. For this reason, I almost never post admissions advice in the forums for other SAs -- b/c I don't know the first thing about their processes. In fact, we have a friend whose DS applied to USAFA and wanted advice. I said, "Don't ask me; don't know the first thing about how USAFA works." Sent him to another friend who is a USAFA grad, who was able to help.

    The "danger" in providing admissions advice that may be outdated or inapplicable -- even if with the best of intentions -- is that candidates may have difficulty differentiating what is accurate and what isn't. And that can at best waste their time and at worst send them off in the wrong direction. Obviously, there are many subjects on this forum where current knowledge about the USNA admissions process isn't necessary and all input is equally valid/accurate.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
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  17. brovol

    brovol Member

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    I don't disagree that things change, but if the remedy is not to offer advice or insight, then this forum might as well be closed down. These forums are full of bad information and advice, just as they are full of good info and advice. The post I got called out on was spot on accurate, except it indicated that candidates need teacher evaluations for math, English and science, when apparently USNA does nort require them from science teachers. The evaluations are submitted electronically by USNA, an thus no harm could have occurred; but that was a peripheral comment to the post regardless, as I correctly answered the OP's question, and even qualified that answer. Dressing down someone because they try to help another tends to have porr long term returns. Just saying.