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Round one (1) applications are just around the corner. By now you should have had a conversation, or two, with your recommenders about your professional and academic goals. They should have also agreed to support your business school application(s).

It is common to feel a nervousness about the recommendation letters. Typical questions that arise, even at this stage, are: Have I chosen the right person? What are they going to write about me? Will they write at length and in detail about my accomplishments? Are there areas in which I could receive a less than an ideal review? etc.

For these questions to be on your mind is perfectly normal. After all, a lot is riding on that glowing reference letter.

A good recommendation letter is one that comes from a supervisor, client, or project leader who can communicate, in vivid detail, your professional achievements and can speak to your professional goals and ambitions. Instead of wondering what the recommender will write, why not spend that energy bringing the very best parts of your profile to the forefront of their mind. I ask you this: Have you prepared your recommender to give you a glowing recommendation?

If not, there is still time to reach out to them for these key issues.


While your recommender might know you, your ambitions, and your accomplishments as it relates to your working for and with him/her, he/she is not aware, and should not be expected to be mindful of all your experiences and accomplishments. Be kind and share a copy of your resume – preferably the one you will be submitting with your b-school application(s). Your resume will give the recommender a basis from which to draw and can also be reminded of your accomplishments. They can then address specific examples that show your brilliance.


Talk to your recommender(s) about events/experiences that have shaped your decision to pursue an MBA. What are some of the tools an MBA will equip you that may have enhanced your professional experience? Which experiences have demonstrated your readiness to succeed? When discussing experiences, be sure you talk about those relevant to your recommender. A paper you wrote in college is irrelevant to your supervisor in the Private Equity firm, for example. But, if the person supporting your application has witnessed you grow from an intern to a Senior Analyst, talking to him/her about your journey makes perfect sense. Remember to be specific, after all, the schools are asking your recommenders to be.


Not many people like the administrative process, but that is a part of admissions. Be sure you have given your recommender the details he/she needs to submit the letter. They should have already been added to your target school’s application portal, which sends an automatic email with instructions on how to proceed.

An application is considered complete only when all the required materials are submitted. The recommendation letter is one of those required documents and must be provided by the admission deadline of the schools you are targeting. Therefore, be sure you have communicated your target deadline to your recommender.

Finally, keep track of your recommender’s progress. From the school’s application portal, you can check on the status of your recommendation letters.  If your recommender has not submitted his/her letter of recommendation two weeks before the deadline, it is advisable to reach out with a friendly reminder.

Trust that you have made the right decision in choosing recommenders that want to help you succeed and waive your right to see the content of your recommenders’ letter. The recommender will be more inclined to be candid in their remarks, and the admissions team will add more weight to a recommendation letter that has not been seen by the applicant.




Sia Admissions Consulting is a boutique firm based in New York City. We specialize in coaching students of diverse background navigate university admissions process. Our goal is to partner with students to help them characterize and reflect their individuality in all areas of the admissions application.

At Sia, we firmly believe that “one-size” does not fit all—each student has his or her story that, if communicated properly, a university admissions committee is eager to hear; therefore, we coach each student in originally telling his or her story. Our partnership with each student consists of  – (i) recognizing the student’s story by asking poignant questions which help us (ii) identify the quintessence of his or her strengths and aspirations, so we may (iii) build an idiosyncratic strategy that helps the student distinctively present his or her story. Our aim is to coach student in showcasing a unique application that communicates their individuality as an ideal candidate for the field and institution of choice.