5 misconceptions about business school recommendations

College recommendations

Each year, admissions committees recieve hundreds of thousands of recommendations letters, written by everyone from the applicant’s father’s golf buddy to President Obama.

Some admissions committees have even reported recieving letters from actual royalty. Of course, just because your recommendation doesn’t come from a world leader doesn’t mean that you can’t leverage it to impress the admissions committees.

Here are five of the biggest misconceptions about letters of recommendations:

1. “A recommendation from my CEO ¬†will impress the admissions committee.” Case in point, a letter from Obama. A “celebrity” recommendation or a recommendation from a CEO will not be given more weight. It’s better to someone who actually knows you and can rave about your performance, like your direct supervisor.

2. “Extra letters will let the admissions committee know how dedicated I am.” If the application asks for three letters, send three letters. No more, no less. Pay attention to the people that each business school want to hear from (i.e., direct supervisor, professor, coworker), as this may vary between schools.

3. “It shouldn’t take more than a few weeks.” The people you ask for recommendations are busy people, and the best way to make sure that you get quality recommendations is to give them somewhere between a month and three months.

4. “I’ll shoot them an email.” It’s best to ask in-person at a moment when they’re not too busy. You might need to schedule an appointment/meeting or even take them out to coffee.

5. “They know enough about me to write a letter.” Help the recommender out by providing some kind of “brag sheet” with the awards/honors that you’ve recieved and anything else you want them to mention. Don’t be afraid to give them your resume.

 

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