I tell my clients they have to waive their right to view their business school recommendation, and that it is not really an option to not do so.
Not waiving your right could tell the admissions committee that you don’t trust your recommenders. It could tell them that you are paranoid or overly anxious. It opens up a pandora's box of possibilities, none of which are that great.
It could tell the admissions committee that this applicant is a liability.
What happens if he (or she) doesn’t get in? Is he going to go after his recommenders for throwing him under the bus? Is he going to create more headaches for all involved? Is the applicant going to create reputational risk for the school? I smell lawsuit!
The adcom would rather just not deal with it.
Specifically, when you - the applicant - waive your right to see the recommendation you voluntarily and intentionally relinquish your known right, claim or privilege to view the reference letter at any time going forward. So, by waiving your right, after you are admitted to a program, you will still be unable to see your recommendation.
Personally, I have never heard of a student actually wanting to view their recommendation once they got in(waived or not waived), but I imagine those who got dinged might wonder if their boss really screwed them.
One last thing here for those of you who forgot to waive your right to view the rec, and whose boss has already submitted the letter.
If you forgot to waive, I do not consider not waiving to be a deal breaker. Yes, it looks bad to the admissions committee but all-in-all, it's only part of the whole application package. Any applicant can have compensating factors that make up for your “non-waive”.
Just keep in mind this as you work through all parts of your MBA application - at a high level, it is important to remember that any applicant is competing against their subset of peer applicants when applying to b-school (i.e. strategy consultant versus strategy consultant). If you do anything to differentiate yourself in a negative way from these demographics (like not waiving), the adcom will notice the red flag. One little red flag won't kill your application, but several sloppy or bonehead mistakes will begin to gnaw away at your foundation.
If you are in the midst of this process, congrats and good luck! If you are just starting out on your admissions journey, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.