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.
One of the most tedious and unnerving aspects of the MBA application process is getting your recommendations submitted on time. Since recommendations are the only parts of the MBA application that are out of your control, it only adds to the turmoil. Particularly because MBA applicants are typically type-A people who like to control everything, not being able to execute this componentry of the application can be downright maddening.
It probably goes without saying, but if you chose wisely your recommenders in the first place, you won’t be facing a problem.
Good recommenders will not only speak in great detail about your shining potential, but also will communicate with you when they have finished the process. A good recommender will usually not wait until the last possible moment either, but we’re not talking about good recommenders here, we’re talking about the procrastinators. How do you handle someone who goes radio silent?
Just pickup the phone.
Today’s email and texting world has everyone afraid to make voice calls. Granted, voicemail can be horribly inefficient, but when someone receives a voicemail, they generally pay attention. Voice calls indicate more urgency, which is exactly what you need to communicate when time is of the essence. I can’t say coming up short on a recommendation will definitively ruin your chances for admission, but it certainly won’t help. Unless your profile is well above average, you need to make sure your recommenders are holding up their end of the bargain. At the very least, it can make you look like you exercised poor judgment in choosing a reticent recommender or worse, that no recommendation is a bad recommendation.
A last resort could be to reach out to another recommender.
Hopefully you have someone waiting in the wings whom you thought about asking but in the end, chose not to. Even better, you informed this person they were an alternate. Being the understudy for a recommendation is not exactly flattering, but you would be surprised how special it makes someone feel to swoop in and rescue your b-school application when someone else fails to come through.
Recommendations are one of the most important pieces of the MBA application puzzle, so don’t let the mad scramble of the holiday MBA deadlines distract you from finishing your application well.