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Ok, just sent out my first recommendation package... FORTY-SEVEN pages of stuff... I had
EDIT: updated with which things are optional and which are required
Intro letter: 3 pages (fluff and intro) Game Plan: 5 pages (must read) Work History: 9 pages (reference only, more for my applications) Extracurricular History: 5 pages (reference only, for application) Honors/Awards History: 3 pages (reference only, for application) How to write an rec letter summary and talking points for EVERY question of the 4 schools I'm applying to: 22 pages
(note: 3-4 pages summary in outline form of Bodine's chapter on recs, then 4-5 pages per school of summary of the school's strengths and stats, plus an example for each question on the rec form...)
So in the end, not that many pages, but it took me almost 2 weeks to complete...
Disclaimer: I am only trying to help .. so please don't take this otherwise
I think that you did go overboard. One thing that you have to worry about is "How much time they are going to give to my application". What if the recommenders end up spending too much time reading your docs, and get tired of the process even before they start writing the reco? And what if they get overwhelmed by this and not read any of it .. not even the core points that they certainly should have before writing the recos?
I think that you should read and re-read those 47 pages and come up with bullet points in a page or two that give them the essence of everything that you want them to do and say.
No problem at all mNeo, I appreciate your honesty. It helps put things into perspective!
Well, to be fair, similar things are copy and pasted 4 times for the 4 schools, so really only 2-3 pages of the "Talking Points" is about how to write the letter. The 3 History files are all for reference, they don't ever need to even look at that. The intro letter can be skimmed through.
So the important things are the game plan (5 pages) and a few other things. I listed one example per question in detail, which is why it took so much space...
What are you thoughts now with more clarification?
Haha, Aau, I have to admit, I did shameless copy good parts of that guide and used it in my intro letter, please forgive me
But yeah, since my recommenders are all novices at B-school recommendations, I went through each question of the recommender form and listed bullet points of my qualities and an EXAMPLE from work that they can talk about. What was the initial problem setup? How did I go about solving it? What was the quantifiable result?
So the "how to write guide" was a summary of Paul Bodine's last chapter on recommendations, that took 2-3 pages. Each school had about 5-8 questions, so each one I gave an example drawn from my work, and that took about 4 pages each, thus roughly 22 pages (with blank spaces here and there too).
The rest is just for reference, they can never look at it if they don't want to.
one of my recommenders is a b-school alumni. I asked her if she needed feedback.. she's like ..I know what to write.. concentrate on ur essays.
So that was good.
The other recommendation letter - I had to write the whole draft, recommender just made some edits, reviewed it.. changed and added minor points.
kryzak - man u went to kill a mosquito with a F-18 Hornet.
As long as it works!!!
well, one recommender asked me to write the draft for him, but I refused because it's against the honor code of Kellogg and Stanford, and I think Berkeley had a little check box at the bottom of their form saying "I attest that I wrote this letter myself" or something to that tune...
I didn't want to risk my chances at all from something this minor. Thus, you actually have to do MORE work giving your recommender talking points since you don't know which things they'll pick to write about.
Avi, I would make sure that you had someone else write your draft for your recommender or at least the style is very different. There are many books warning of the "sixth sense" of adcoms to sniff out similar writing styles from your essays to your rec letters if you write both.
We don't realize it, but we all have a unique style of writing. It goes beyond the kind of words we use and the kind of sentences we form. Every one of us thinks in one unique fashion .. and that shows. So, applicants who have been asked to write the recommendations themselves should consider picking other recommenders. Or at least get the recommendation written by someone else. If you write it on your own, it will show.
yeah, I understand some recommenders are like that. one of mine was suggesting that until I explained how important the process is and showed him the Stanford honor code. I'm very happy that he believes in me enough to be willing to write all 4 recs, of course, with the prereq that I write the talking points in detail (thus the 47 pages of data).
Definitely let a friend re-write the rec letter for you in his own words, this way you won't jeopardize your chances if the adcom senses that you wrote your rec letters. I want to see you at UCLA admit weekend, remember!
I think if I gave 47 pages to my recommenders they would have backed out. Mine was detailed but I kept it short by using a lot of bullet points. I used aau's form as a great starting point and wrote my own similar to hers. I didn't want to overwhelm my recommenders and I have worked for both for 3+ years so I they know me very well.