Often, candidates overlook this important addition to their application -- don't be one!
Asking a teacher, mentor, coach or employer for a letter of recommendation (LOR) is a critical step to applying to any of the U.S. service academies. The same is true for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
However, unlike the two optional LORs for the U.S. Air Force Academy, or the three optional online evaluations for the U.S. Naval Academy, USMA does not provide a 'obvious' way to submit optional recommendations. The good news is that you can (and should) submit an optional LOR (or perhaps several) for your application.
As you will note in the adjacent images, the USMA app (portal) provides a direct way to submit an LOR. First go to the menu and find "Upload documents." Select and then find "Letter of Recommendation." At this point, you can simply select the PDF (file) of the LOR that you desire to submit.
As I alluded to previously, you may want to submit a letter or two. However, be sure the letter is outstanding and provides details and narration not found in other parts of your application. First-hand descriptions of your work ethic, direct examples of your leadership, or stories that illustrate your strength of character are the kind of letters that you desire to submit. An LOR that simply states that you are a "nice person" or a "good student" will not fulfill this aim. Have your Scoutmaster, your lacrosse coach, an old family friend or other mentor write a letter that gives the readers real "insights" about you.
One option is to draft the letter yourself. In many ways, your memory of an accomplishment or a project may be richer than the mentor's recall. You can simply provide the details and allow the mentor to edit and expand the letter after you provide the text and examples that you would like to highlight. I've worked with many students to create these drafts for former employers, coaches and other adult mentors. The mentor must finalize the letter and sign the document along with including their contact information (i.e., their cell phone number and email address). Refer to my blog about drafting a letter for more details.
Additional recommendations for West Point are great ways to enhance your application. Start now to plan and request the additional LORs. As with other steps, your attention to this detail may be the difference between winning an appointment or not. Good luck with your USMA application!
[I would welcome a chance to discuss details with you. I offer coaching services to pace and prepare you (and your parents!) for the entire Academy application process . . . along with the some advice for your LORs! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, 503.515.7406 or complete my contact form on the home page.]