September 16, 2021

Letter of Recommendation Advice

The letter of recommendation occupies a unique place in the business school application. It
is the only element in the admissions folder in which a third party, other than you and the
school, is given the opportunity to weigh in on your qualifications. Because it is the element
over which you have the least control, the letter of recommendation is the application
Just as with the other parts of your application, you don’t want your recommendation
letter(s) to be rushed. A few gentle, strategically timed reminders to your recommenders to
keep them on track can go a long way. Try to give your recommenders no less than two
months and hopefully more to develop their recommendations – from the moment you
green-light them and, hopefully, also give them all of the supporting documentation you
think they need, such as:

  • Your resume
  • Your schools’ instructions for filling out the online recommendation letter form
  • A general statement explaining why you need an MBA, what your post-MBA goals
    are, what you think is unique and compelling about your candidacy (traits, not just
    skills), which stories (accomplishments) and themes you want this recommender to
    discuss, and which schools you’re applying to, with a list of the qualities they seek in

Then check in with them every 3-4 weeks to see nudge them in a non-pushy way. When the
deadline is 4 weeks out, nudge them more often. If they haven’t replied at all, or you have
other reason to doubt their commitment, begin setting up an alternative recommender no
later than the 4-weeks-out point.