Alumni Letters on behalf of an applicant...

<p>Let's be honest... do they really make a difference? Can they piiss off an admissions officer?</p>

<p>Let's assume there is no direct relation between alumni and applicant (say, applicant's aunt's friend, or applicant's former rabbi's son).</p>

<p>Let's assume the alumni is not a huge VIP to the college, hasn't donated millions of dollars, etc.</p>

<p>It could help. But if you're thinking about Ivies, it is probably shredder paper. If you want influence, you need someone who is active and extremely successful to really matter. The average Joe alumni has much less of effect than the President of XYZ company.</p>

<p>To be more specific, the school in question is Wesleyan. Ever since I've idenfitifed it as a pretty clear first choice, my parents have been playing detective, hunting down any alumnus with any distant relation.</p>

<p>My aunt's friend. My former rabbi's son. My brother's high school guidance counselor.</p>

<p>"My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night."</p>

<p>Of course, I haven't met these people, but my parents are convinced if I get to know one or all, and they write a letter, it's hugely beneficial. I thought it was pretty ridiculous. Maybe I'm not cynical enough.</p>

<p>What say you?</p>

<p>Unless the alum is a huge donor to the school or is actively involved with the school and knows you relatively well, it probably won't make a lick of difference.</p>

<p>edit: just noticed I said exactly what AY8888 said.</p>

<p>Alot of people tried the alumni player trick. In fact, someone had a larger donor right a letter and it still went to the dumps with a rejection. In the end, it is your qualifications that truly matter. Of course, the someone's case, it was a millionaire donor. Unless the alumni is a billionaire and bought them a library, it probably won't do any good. If you are qualified, they can add icing to the cake. Plus, I rather not be indebt to others when they aren't any help to begin with. :p</p>

<p>Adding on to this topic...</p>

<p>I applied to Brown, and in addition to what I know is a glowing letter of recommendation from one teacher, I also asked a teacher who is a Brown alumnus--and who I know is fond of me--to write the other. He does alumni interviews, and is still very involved with the Brown community. </p>

<p>He's certainly not a millionaire/donor/founding father, but might it have any positive influence (or any influence at ALL) on Brown's decision?</p>

<p>Pretty much confirmed my argument.</p>

<p>(z) as other posters have said, some people can hold significant sway with what the college like active alumni boosters, extremely wealthy donors or prominent folks,etc.. However, the fact that your parents are scrounging around looking for one tells me this: that alum doesn't know you 1 bit and even if he/she WERE one of the people I stated above, why would they cash in their chits to recommend you especially? </p>

<p>The only boost that initiating a relationship w/an alum right now is to gain insight on how YOU would add to the college community -- info that an insider (alum) could teach you. But a letter from an alum with whom you have a passing relationship or none at all? Pfft -- smacks of the elitism and old boy network that many schools are willing to shed and smells of desperation on your part. Don't do it</p>

<p>T26E4: Exactly what I've suspected and have tried to argue, though not worded nearly as well.</p>

<p>I have a similar situation as jmfehs. I plan to apply to Duke next year and my calculus teacher is an alumnus. Would it be beneficial to have him write me a letter of recommendation?</p>

<p>aaron: 2 things for you 1) is he familiar with the quality of your work? 2) make sure you get a "sit down time" with him and discuss why you see you'd be a good match for Duke. Even let him craft your thinking since he's been there and knows the institution and what it looks for and frankly, how YOU look.</p>

<p>(lovely weather! I went down there every Easter w/my roommate who was visiting his girlfriend when I was in CT. A nice break from New England weather!)</p>

<p>Not to veer off topic too much, but if an alumna who hasn't been hugely active at her alma mater is sort of my mentor and knows me very well, but my uncle who is an alumnus of this school, makes large donations, and has served on the board of visitors, whose letter of recommendation would be more influential? For what it's worth, while I'm not as close with my uncle as I am with this mentor, he and I see each other a few times a year and are fairly close.</p>

<p>Generally, the person who knows you better and can write a better letter of rec about you is the best choice.</p>

<p>I remember reading an article on college admissions where an applicant's father knew a senator, and had the senator write a letter of rec for the applicant. In the end, this actually ended up being detrimental and contributed to the applicant's rejection.</p>