Chicago Booth’s Top Ten Tips for Recommendation Letters

The latest Chicago Booth Admissions Insider newsletter offers the admissions committee’s Top Ten Tips on how to get first-rate recommendation letters…letters that can solidify–or improve–a perspective the reader already has about you.

After browsing this list, check out yesterday’s Booth Insider post on the biggest mistakes Chicago Booth admissions has seen when it comes to recommendation letters…don’t let these happen to you!

  1. Your first letter should be a professional recommendation from a supervisor. If it’s not feasible to ask your current supervisor to formally write a letter on your behalf, find a professional contact that can speak to your strengths and your weaknesses, such as a past supervisor or client.
  2. The second letter is up to you. The purpose of the second letter is to give us a different perspective of your skill sets and provide you with an opportunity to add a new voice to your application. There is no preference on who supplies your second recommendation; our only guideline is that it should add new and valuable insights to the application.
  3. Choose people who know you well. Make sure your recommenders are close enough to provide specific and relevant examples of your work for Chicago Booth’s admissions.
  4. Meet with your recommenders beforehand. Take this opportunity to refresh their memory on your past projects and goals. Recent connections can make for richer and more powerful letters of recommendation, which is important in making a great impression.
  5. Provide recommender with background information. In addition to meeting with your recommender, you might want to consider providing a packet of materials to help him/her have a better idea of why business school is the next step for you. This could include an updated resume, your application essay question responses, and information about the program you hope to attend.
  6. Don’t rush your recommender. Be mindful of a recommender’s time. You want them to feel they have enough time to write a great letter, not just a good one. We suggest a month notice at minimum if possible. Plus that gives you time to meet with him/her before they write the letter and for a follow up meeting.
  7. Don’t write your own letter. In today’s busy world where everyone is multi-tasking and overscheduled, it’s not uncommon for a recommender to suggest that you write your own letter. But take our advice – please don’t do it!  Since the committee can usually recognize your writing style from other parts of the application, it’s best that the recommender draft the letter.
  8. Submit names of recommenders online. Once you access the online application system, you will be asked to provide the names and email addresses of your recommenders. The system will then send them an email message providing the link to the online form where they should submit their letters. If you have any problems with the online system or questions about this process, contact us at
  9. Monitor the progress of your letters.  You can see if your letters have been submitted by logging into the online application.  If the application deadline is approaching and a letter has not been submitted, then you might want to send a friendly reminder to the recommender.
  10. Send a thank you note.  Your recommenders took time to write letters on your behalf so it’s important that you follow-up with a thank you note or card.  They’ll know that you appreciated their help.
Click for more posts containing Application Advice for the Chicago Booth Business School.
To see our Chicago Booth School of Business Essay Guide for MBA Applications, click here.

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