This time of year is stressful for many reasons. The holidays themselves are crushing. Family time can be just as taxing as it is soothing. Buying Christmas presents becomes a chore and like the song says, the traffic is terrific. Worst of all, MBA deadlines and all the accompanying details loom large.
Business School applicants typically have type-A personalities, so managing the application process with zest and precision comes with the territory. One area they can’t directly control, however, is the recommendation. Everything works great with someone who is responsive and excited for your b-school journey, but how do you handle someone who is not so eager to help?
I tell my clients up front that they have to waive their right to view their 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.
Before application season gets in full swing, many clients are beginning to reach out to their recommenders. We often get questions about the best approach to ensuring this portion of your application is the best it can be, so it might be helpful to see some tips for working with your recommenders so your end result is just that.
When it comes to recommendations, the first thing that any applicant needs to understand is how they work and, therefore, how they should handle them as part of the process. We sum up this analysis with something we call “The Rule of 10%”: they count for about 10% of a decision, they should be about 10% of your focus during application season, and you should contribute about 10% of the work that goes into their outcome.
Obviously, these are all gross estimates and generalizations, but it shakes out to about right and its easier to use 10% than “a percentage that is a LOT less than you think it is.” The bottom line is that most applicants assume a much higher level of importance, they spend far more time thinking and worrying about them, and they get far too involved in their production (the biggest issue of all). Let’s work through all three:
I tell my clients up front that they have to waive their right and that it is not really an option to not do so. Not waiving your right could tell the adcom that you don’t trust your recommenders. It could tell them that you are paranoid or overly anxious.
It could tell them that this applicant is a liability. What happens if he 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?
The adcom would rather just not deal with it.
I taught the GMAT for about 3 years. In that time, I had the pleasure of teaching over 250 students. Along the way, I also had the privilege of helping a select few craft their admissions packages. Based on my experience and in order of importance, I present the following 8 factors I consider critical to getting into a top b-school:
- GMAT Score
- Application Essays
- Work Experience
- Extracurricular Activities
- Applicant Submission Round