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Harvard Letter of Recommendation Word Count

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CBS School Moderator
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New post 24 Jul 2019, 13:48
Hi All,

Upon reviewing many of the top schools, Harvard asks similar questions to most for recommendations, the "how does this candidate compare to similar ones" and "describe their reaction to a piece of feedback". However, Harvard indicates a much shorter word count (300 and 250) for these than the GMAC standard which generally asks for 500 and 500 max. My question is how strict is Harvard on this word count for the LoR? If the answers are above the 300 and 250 word count will they simply stop reading or penalize? Seems pointless to ask the same question to make things easier but have a shorter limit so it has to be changed anyway.

Thanks,
wraider
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New post 24 Jul 2019, 13:57
Like most universities harvard uses a similar template for recommendation letters so keeping to the word limit would be prudent

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New post 24 Jul 2019, 17:45
I think this is a case by case situation; I had my client call McCombs and they said yes 500 is fine, another client call Kellogg about their reduced limits (same as HBS) and they said it is very strict do not submit longer recs. Can you please call admissions wraider84? My instinct is that they will say no but would be great to confirm. Its always so annoying having to whittle down the talking points for HBS. At least I can now repurpose for Kellogg, they also reduced the limits.

wraider84 wrote:
Hi All,

Upon reviewing many of the top schools, Harvard asks similar questions to most for recommendations, the "how does this candidate compare to similar ones" and "describe their reaction to a piece of feedback". However, Harvard indicates a much shorter word count (300 and 250) for these than the GMAC standard which generally asks for 500 and 500 max. My question is how strict is Harvard on this word count for the LoR? If the answers are above the 300 and 250 word count will they simply stop reading or penalize? Seems pointless to ask the same question to make things easier but have a shorter limit so it has to be changed anyway.

Thanks,
wraider

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Re: Harvard Letter of Recommendation Word Count  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jul 2019, 06:45
MBAPrepCoach wrote:
I think this is a case by case situation; I had my client call McCombs and they said yes 500 is fine, another client call Kellogg about their reduced limits (same as HBS) and they said it is very strict do not submit longer recs. Can you please call admissions wraider84? My instinct is that they will say no but would be great to confirm. Its always so annoying having to whittle down the talking points for HBS. At least I can now repurpose for Kellogg, they also reduced the limits.


Hmm thanks I didn't even notice Kellogg had reduced it as well. I will try to reach out to both and find out. Really baffles me how difficult these schools make recommendations for the recommenders, has to leave a bad taste in some of their mouth's which seems counterproductive for the schools. Oh well, can only do what I can to help mine out, just feel bad because I am planning on applying to more schools than the average so didn't want too much work on their end
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New post 25 Jul 2019, 06:50
A word of advice which worked for me as well. Use same recommendation letter for each university if word count and questions are same. Saves recommendor and applicants precious time. Letters are only formality anyways as admissions would be decided based on scores and your profile

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New post 25 Jul 2019, 07:27
saadim wrote:
A word of advice which worked for me as well. Use same recommendation letter for each university if word count and questions are same. Saves recommendor and applicants precious time. Letters are only formality anyways as admissions would be decided based on scores and your profile

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Of course, but that is the point of this post. Harvard (and Kellogg) ask the same questions, but on a smaller word count and I want to know how strict they are to that or if we really have to answer the exact same questions twice on two word limits.

Also as much as I would like that to be true, saying admissions dont care about the rec letter seems like dangerous misinformation
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New post 25 Jul 2019, 09:54
I mean unless the recommendors make a blunder admissions wont just hand you harvard admissions just because your boss wrote that you are a superstar. If you want to exceed word limit as well its fine with me. Experience it yourself whats true and whats not.
All the best do tell when you will get admitted into these universities so that others can know what worked for you

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New post 25 Jul 2019, 13:13
Sorry saadim I realize that you might not be in a place to know this, and I don't mean to make you feel bad but what you are saying about recommendation letters being only a formality IS COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY WRONG.

I hope everyone reads this post. In actuality, recommendation letters are weighted THE SAME AS THE APPLICATION ESSAYS based on an extensive survey of admissions committees and for executive MBA applicants, weighted almost twice as much as the essays. Think about it: what do you trust more, what someone says about themselves or what their peers and managers say about them?

Using a copy/paste approach to applications is a sure-fire way to be dinged. It makes a lot of sense: I am recruiting for a position right now and if I don't feel they are speaking to what I wrote in the job description I will disregard their application straight away.

I do encourage applicants to apply strategically, and that means leaning towards schools with the common letter of recommendation. This speaks to strengths, response to feedback, and an optional section. This makes it easy on recommenders, and most importantly, makes everything less work so you can submit more apps, more times at bat.

But if the questions are different, only a fool would disregard those differences and paste their square response into a round hole.

If you are going about this process thinking of convenience to the recommender, well, I would suggest you value yourself more. When it comes to recommenders, my main questions are 1.) have they personally observed you demonstrating leadership, teamwork and problem-solving? and 2.) will they champion you, are they coachable, will they be willing to take out the time needed to get this right?

Because if they don't fit criteria #2 its a DEALBREAKER. Go to someone else. It is way way more important to work with someone who is willing to invest time and knows you well than someone high-ranking. High-ranking is bullshit.

I had a client who try to get a recommendation 2 levels up and this recommender BAILED when he realized it was more than a generic letter we needed. He gave us some crappy little generic statement and when that wasn't good enough he said sorry can't help you.

At the last minute we had to scramble and find another option. Thankfully we found an internal client who was eager to help and cooperative, the letter ended up being great. He got into Wharton with zero manager recommendations with a 650. And he is not URM.

Anyways, recommendations matter, you matter, recruit people who are supportive and willing to do what you need to get the admit you want. End rant!@#$




saadim wrote:
A word of advice which worked for me as well. Use same recommendation letter for each university if word count and questions are same. Saves recommendor and applicants precious time. Letters are only formality anyways as admissions would be decided based on scores and your profile

Posted from my mobile device

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New post 25 Jul 2019, 14:58
MbAPrepCoach thats what I am saying prepare a standard answers to the questions NOT copy paste them sorry to say this but you are twisting my words yourself. Yes I agree with all your points about letter of recommendations. They should provide details about applicant with examples for each point and more in person the better.
Also the candidate that got into wharton was he an international student. He must be a superstar to get into wharton with 650 gmat being an international student. Admissions do care more about scores for international applicants and I dont know if you have personally ever applied to or gone to a b school but I have and can 100 percent tell you with certainity that this is the case except maybe harvard stanford both require exceptional profiles. For rest international students it boils down to gmat gpa scores with work experience the most important factor distingushing applicants from others

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Re: Harvard Letter of Recommendation Word Count   [#permalink] 25 Jul 2019, 14:58
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