Recommendation question

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Discus: College Admissions: December 2003 Archive: July 2003 Archive: Recommendation question
By Swimalias (Swimalias) on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 12:02 pm: Edit

I'm thinking about applying ED to Middlebury and a friend of mine's father went there and is a very loyal alumni, donating a good amount of money. I don't think he knows me well enough for me to ask him to write a recommendation for me (He doesn't really know my EC, grades, etc well enough), but do you think I could just ask him to write a short letter saying that he does know me and knows that he knows that I'm a good person? What are your opinions - any way I can use his alumni status to my advantage?

By Nautical_2000 (Nautical_2000) on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 01:25 pm: Edit


By Coles (Coles) on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 02:48 pm: Edit

I wouldn't do it. If he doesn't know you that well, he won't be able to write a good personal recommendation. Admission officers will probably be wondering why you had someone that you barely know write you a recommendation. It would be one thing if he was your father, then they would be hesitant to reject you on the grounds he might stop contributing money. The fact that he is your friend's father makes the chances of him cutting the flow of donations upon your rejection slim to none.

By Dovaan05 (Dovaan05) on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 03:04 pm: Edit

Don't do it because admissions officers will just be annoyed with the extra paper your submitting. Since its not a recommendation it won't really have any effect on your chances (unless he has donated a ridiculous amount: upwards of $50 million)

By Swimalias (Swimalias) on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 03:24 pm: Edit

It's just that he's friend's with the dean.....

By Morgantruce (Morgantruce) on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 05:34 pm: Edit

It's July. There's plenty of time to exchange a bunch of emails with him. He would probably be delighted to answer many questions about the school. Be sure to give hime some breathing room between the emails. I would think that after a few months, he would know enough about you to write a letter of the dean. Ask him to write A LETTER and mail it. If he agrees, run home and email him one big file of all the things you previously said to him. He probably did not save those emails, and would appreciate having one file to "refresh his mind" a bit.

If your friend's father has any smarts, he will guess after the 2nd email that you are going in a particular direction with this and in all liklihood, he'll be willing to help you. Deans get a LOT of mail... only a small portion comes from friends...

Note to anyone who thinks this is a bad idea: How did you think things are done in the real world?

By Momof2 (Momof2) on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 06:33 pm: Edit

Here's another side: One of the parents' best friends include another couple AND one set of their (the couple's) in-laws, all alumni of our son's chosen school. After all the scholarship offers, admission choices, early registration, et al is behind us, we find out that the older gentleman is TRULY DISTRESSED that he wasn't asked for a recommendation.

We never asked because he is a very active alumnus, donor, etc., and we didn't want to take advantage of his friendship! Turns out he had been looking forward to doing a favor for a young friend. So.....chalk another one up to misconception!

I guess you never know until you ask.

By Morgantruce (Morgantruce) on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 06:46 pm: Edit

Asking for LETTERS of recommendation was the most joyous part of my daughter's college applications.

When you ask someone for such a favor, they become a part of your life in a very special way. When we encounter them on the street, it's just a short time until they ask, "How is your daughter doing at college?" You sense that they feel they really had a part in the process and are very proud to have been asked.

Writing such letters in one of the most civilized things we do in life. Don't ever miss the chance to request or write a letter of recommendation.

By Morgantruce (Morgantruce) on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 06:57 pm: Edit

OK.. you've heard me use the phrase "Letter of Recommendation" and are wondering if it's the same thing as one of those "Teacher Recommendation Forms" with the check off boxes. No it's not. It is a regular narrative letter. If you are all freaked out about using such a device, just give the person the regular form, write (see attached) on the form and let the person write his letter, staple it on the back of the form, and mail it. We played no such charade. We just asked people to write letters. No college ever complained to our daughters. They applied to liberal arts colleges. I imagine there might have been some static if they were dealing with colleges that have 30,000 students and admissions offices run like factories.

A narrative letter in the writers own words that covers most of the items on the form is a more convincing piece of evidence than checked boxes.

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