This is part 5 of a series featuring b-school advice gleaned from one of Manhattan GMAT’s own. Until recently, Patty managed marketing and student services for our sister company, Manhattan LSAT. But she chose to return to business school and started at Wharton last fall. She has agreed to share her application experiences with us in a series called, “Patty’s Path to Wharton.”
Read Part 4 here.
Recommendations are one of the more fraught aspects of your b-school application, because you’ve got the least control over the process. But, once again, Patty’s experiences can provide some guidance.
If you’re wondering who to approach, here’s her advice:
People always want to know who to ask for recommendations, the person you work with or the person with the best titles. I already knew who I wanted because I’d worked with them closely. I just knew I wanted people who knew me best as a person and as a professional. My only advice for people who do have that question is to think about it: If you’re on the ad com, do you want a generic form letter or a genuine note? And which one do you think is going to distinguish you from a sea of a thousand.
Once you’ve selected recommenders, be sure to provide them with the info they need to get started. Patty compiled a dossier for each recommender, including her resume, a draft of her essays, questions from the relevant schools, and some anecdotes to jog their memories. Her thinking was this: If you are going to ask them to write these somewhat long recs for you, you want to make it as easy as possible for them.
With something like, Tell me about a time the applicant was criticized and how did she handle it, if you worked for your recommender 4 years ago, it’s often hard to remember. Always be respectful”say if you have something better, please use it, but this is just to jog your memory. It took a lot of time, because these forms are pretty length. It took at least 2 hours for each one. So being mindful of that, you want to help your recommender write as much as you can.
She also warns of a potential point of awkwardness you may not have considered”the thank-you gift. Patty says:
Generally, don’t be cheap. Because, if you think about it, you are asking them to do free work for you. You don’t pay your yoga instructor $10/hr for a lesson. I did things like a good bottle of wine, took them out to dinner, hand-written cards. A gesture goes a long way, if it’s genuine. Do what’s appropriate for you and your situation.
Next: Read Patty’s advice on Admissions Interview here.