So I have a family member who isn’t really a family member (that one cousin who isn’t really your cousin) that went to one of those top 20 schools and is a fairly prominent alumni who I probably see once a year. Is it worth asking for a letter of recommendation from them/will it boost my admissions chances? Thanks!
How prominent? Huge donor prominent? Super famous prominent? Enough to have an in with the development office? If yes, go for it. If no, it’s probably not going to move the needle.
Can this person provide meaningful input about who you are, what motivates you, why you would be a valuable addition to the school? Seems this would be difficult for a once-a-year interaction.
A generic “he/she’s a good person” from a big name typically doesn’t do much for an admissions officer. In fact, it probably would be looked at negatively, IMHO.
You would have to know their relationship with the development office. If it is someone that the development office is trying to keep happy, it would help. If is is just someone famous that doesn’t give back to the university I don’t see the development office calling admissions. This all assumes that your “cousin” is willing to do it. This isn’t a normal recommendation letter that you attach to your common app. It is a communication between your cousin and the development office. How far the university is willing to stretch the relationship is a function of past and future giving. Bloomberg level is much different than a few thousand.
An LoR is meant to be one educator speaking to other educators about your actual classroom performance and attributes. Family friends who don’t have this experience with you aren’t effective.
Even if this is a big deal donor, no pull at a T20. I’ve seen mega donors have no swing for family beyond their own kids. You could very well leave adcoms wondering why you thought this was important to include.
The only exception is when a student has worked for a mentor in a real life situation, absolutely related to his future studies. On occasion, that mentor might crank out a glowing LoR that covers the applicant’s skills and attributes in enough depth/breadth to get notice.
Once a year? Not a relative? No, I can’t see this helping you and I think it might be viewed as a fairly transparent ploy to get some extra attention, which is what it is.
Okay thank you guys for all your help! Sounds like an overwhelming no haha.