Tips for Prepping Your Business School Recommenders
You’ve probably heard that MBA letters of recommendation can make or break a business school application. It’s true, but don’t panic! You can improve your chances of getting solid recommendations by preparing your MBA recommenders. If you haven’t done so already, we at Stratus suggest that you start by reading our “Four Steps to a Five-Star Recommendation.”
Once you have chosen your recommenders, you should reach out to them six to eight weeks before your first application deadlines to ensure they have enough time to write your letters. Remember to provide them with a list of the schools to which you are applying and include each school’s deadline. Share a copy of your resume and your reasons for seeking an MBA as well as your post-MBA goals. In addition, providing a little background on the culture of each program can be helpful.
If your recommenders have not written many MBA recommendation letters or are unfamiliar with the process, consider sharing advice for recommenders from the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) so they can gain insight on effective letters. Thankfully, many business schools have adopted the Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR), which was developed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), enabling recommenders to submit responses to one set of questions that will be accepted by multiple schools. Schools are added to this list frequently, so we suggest you check the GMAC website often. If several of your target schools accept the Common LOR, it can save your recommenders a lot of time.
Beyond that, we suggest you take a step back, do a little introspection, and think about what business schools are seeking. If you perceive any “gaps” in your profile, your recommenders may be able to help fill them by highlighting specific skills and projects you have worked on that will emphasize those areas. For example, if you didn’t take a quantitative major in college or your quant test score is low, you could suggest that your recommender highlight some quant-heavy work you have done. Remind them of specific projects so they can provide clear examples to your schools.
Is it possible to provide your recommenders with too much information? Yes and no. Avoid giving them examples in full sentences. Even the most ethical recommender may be tempted to cut and paste that information into their letters, which can raise a red flag with the admissions committee if a school receives two similarly worded letters or if your writing style is different from that of your recommenders. Instead, provide bullet points or short phrases.
If you pick the right people to write your MBA letters of recommendation and you prepare them well, step back and trust the process!