Admissions Tip – Answer to Question on Alumni Recommenders

On April 9 we wrote about how to choose a recommender. In response we received the following question from an applicant (paraphrased) regarding alumni recommenders:

My top choices for business school are Stanford and Kellogg. My boss is a Wharton alum who is actively encouraging that I apply there. While I intend to apply to Wharton, it is not my dream school. I’ve worked under my boss for a while and he is in the position to write a strong recommendation. Is there anything specific I should consider here? Is there a different way to approach a recommender from a competitive school? How are the recommender’s credential from one school viewed at a competitive school; and does it affect your application?

Great question!  In general, alumni recommenders from top schools are well regarded by competitive schools. Because your boss has the best knowledge of your experience, growth, and potential, he should write your recommendation for every school. (Also as we mentioned in choosing a recommender, schools want to see a recommendation from your current supervisor.) To strengthen the recommendation you should help your recommender understand why you feel each of the schools is a good fit for you.  To that end, create a recommender package for your boss and include information on why you like each school – academically, geographically, culturally, etc.  Then your boss can write an informed recommendation for every school.

That said, every person is different and if you sense that your boss has a problem with you applying to other schools (for whatever reason), then your boss would not be a good recommender for those schools. This would be very unusual but it is important to recognize that special circumstances happen. You just need to feel out the relationship. If you feel your boss would not write a strong recommendation for schools other than Wharton, then you should find a different recommender for Stanford and Kellogg.  You can explain to those schools that you weren’t comfortable asking your current supervisor to write the recommendation because you did not want to inform him of your plans.

Thanks to the applicant for sending us this question.  If you have a question, please post a response to our blog entries and we’ll be happy to try and answer it.  We love to hear from you.

Finally, to ask and answer questions live, you can join us TONIGHT online, with Manhattan GMAT. Click here to sign up.

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