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Letters Of Recommendation - How Should I Go About It?

Follow these steps:

  • 1. Assemble your list of recommenders. Compare all of the requirements for all of the schools to which you are applying.
  • 2. Contact each; obtain agreement, and schedule a live or phone appointment. In-person requests are always preferable to phone calls.
  • 3. Provide the recommender with support. Any documentary evidence will be helpful. For a professor, a term paper or two with his/her comments indicated. (Maybe s/he can quote from those comments in the recommendation.) For a supervisor, copies of work done. For everyone, your resume and, if they’re ready, one or more of your application essays.
  • 4. Meet, or phone, the recommender at the prearranged time. Use this encounter as a chance to "catch up," and to make sure that the recommender knows why you’re applying and what your future plans are. Be careful about prompting the recommender too obnoxiously; some writers resent it when the applicant seems to be trying to manipulate the letter.
  • 5 . Send or hand each writer the entire packet of forms and pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes. Some b-schools will allow the recommender simply to send a To Whom It May Concern letter. Others want that letter to be accompanied by an official form, often with a checklist to be completed. Whatever each school wants, send the recommender everything at once: forms; stamped and addressed envelopes; Post-It’s indicating any special requests or requirements.
  • Don’t sandbag the recommender with "Oh, by the way, here are 5 more schools I’m applying to." The recommender won’t like that. It’s better to have him or her bite the bullet all at once.
  • 6. Send a reminder E-mail no later than 10 days prior to deadline. Even the best of intentions can go astray. Recommenders forget. A polite reminder of the deadline will light the appropriate fire.
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