The bottom line: providing 1-2 extra recommendations could give you a tactical advantage in the admission process.
Estimated level of impact on admission chances: 2 out of 5 (5 is highest)
An extra recommendation is a recommendation letter submitted above and beyond the mandatory recommendations that the school requires.
Your extra recommender should be someone who either supervised your work (paid or voluntary) or (second priority) cooperated/worked with you during an extracurricular or a professional activity.
Your extra recommender should shed light on achievements, characteristics or experiences that were not covered in the mandatory recommendations.
For example, good extra recommenders could be:
- A parliament member whom you voluntarily helped during his primary elections campaign.
- A CEO for whom you did some voluntary/paid research a couple years ago.
- A university professor that you worked for as a teaching or research assistant.
- Your boss from a workplace which was not covered in the mandatory recommendations.
- If the below is not in line with specific guidelines about extra recommendations provided in a specific school's application instructions - follow the application instructions. You always want to read them carefully and as early as possible.
- Most extra recommendations are sent in hard copy.
- If you send the extra recommendation in hard copy, and if you didn't see the actual letter that the recommender sent (while providing the recommender with a draft/example, you are not supposed to see what the recommender actually sent), ask the recommender to seal the envelope (for example, with a scotch tape or a sticker) and sign across the seal.
- It is usually good to keep the extra recommendation one page in length.
- Unless otherwise instructed in the school application instructions: the extra recommendation does not have to answer the recommender questions of the school, though it could.
- The extra recommendation should be addressed to the admission committee of the specific school it is sent to. It will better not be a "form letter", but rather a letter that was written specifically for that school, refers to the school, and mentions the school's name.
- It is important to write and attach a convincing note explaining why you added the extra recommendation and clearly noting which of your recommendations are the extra ones.
- Make sure that your personal data mining is in synch with the experience/activity/position that the extra recommender refers to.
- If the recommender initiated the idea of writing the recommendation, then it will be good if you suggest to the recommender to mention that he initiated the recommendation, and to explain why he initiated it. This is especially important if the school is asking not to send an extra recommendation and we want to send it (see below), or if we want to send two extra recommendations.
Carefully read the application instructions of each school you are applying to.
Do they recommend that you not send extra recommendations?
If so, it is probably a good idea not to send extra recommendations to that school. However, if you feel that:
1. You have a strong extra recommendation, and
2. It provides important information that is not covered by other recommenders, and
3. You and your consultant can write a convincing note about why this recommendation is needed despite the school's guideline not to add such letters, and
4. It will not be easy for you to get into this school,
Then we recommend that you send an extra recommendation (just one) to that school too.
The Aringo Team
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