Recommendation Letter Advice From Booth

Like it or not, recommendation letters can make or break your chances of acceptance into the program of your choice. A lukewarm letter will do little to advance your position in the application process, but a stellar recommendation can move you up toward the front of the pack.

Chicago Booth School of Business offers some sage advice on getting great letters of recommendation, which can guide your endeavors no matter where you’re applying.

”¢ Your first letter should be a professional recommendation from a supervisor. If it’s not feasible to ask your current supervisor, find a professional contact that can speak to your strengths and your weaknesses, such as a past supervisor or client.

”¢ The second letter is up to you. The purpose of the second letter is to add a new voice to your application. There is no preference on who supplies your second recommendation–it can be professional, from an organization, club or volunteer project you’re associated with– but it should definitely add new and valuable insights to the application.

”¢ Choose people who know you well. Fancy titles and famous companies are great, but they won’t help if the Admissions Committee senses the recommender doesn’t know you or your work well enough. Make sure your recommenders are close enough to speak with specific and relevant examples.

Ӣ Meet with your recommenders beforehand. 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.

”¢ Don’t rush your recommender. You want them to feel they have enough time to write a great letter, not just a good one. Booth suggests a month notice at minimum if possible, to give you time to meet with him/her before they write the letter and for a follow-up meeting.

”¢ Don’t write your own letter. It’s not uncommon for a recommender to suggest it in today’s busy world where everyone is multitasking and over-scheduled. But just don’t do it, says Booth, since the committee can usually recognize your writing style from other parts of the application.

Still have questions about the application process you need answered before the Round 2 deadline, January 6, 2010? Join Rose Martinelli, associate dean for student recruitment and admissions, for a live, one-hour chat on Thursday, December 17th at 11 a.m. central time.

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