Like many business schools, The Wisconsin MBA Program requires recommendations in order for your application to be considered complete, and to move through the review process. For some prospective students, however, this can be a tricky part of the application. To simplify, I thought I’d share some insider tips to use when preparing for the recommendation.
- Understand what each school is looking for. Each school has different requirements for admission. Some programs may look for letters of recommendation, while others provide a form for your recommender to complete. The number of recommendations can also vary from school to school. Understanding the ins and outs of the application process for each school will allow you to convey what’s required of your recommender more effectively.
- Sit down face-to-face and explain the process. I always recommend taking your recommender out to coffee and have a candid conversation about why you’re applying to business school, and what will be expected of them if they agree to be your recommender. Use this time to explain exactly why you’re interested in each program, and lay out recommendation requirements and deadlines. If possible, have this written down somewhere where the recommender can reference should they forget. Pro-Tip: Give your recommender a deadline two weeks before the actual application deadline. This will hopefully ensure that all your materials, including the recommendation, will be collected. If need be, feel free to reach out to the school to confirm that the recommendation has been received.
- Wisconsin MBA has a recommendation form requirement. Our application specifically asks for your recommender to complete a recommendation form, not write a recommendation letter. The form will ask specific questions about your penchant for leadership, work ethic, and professional demeanor. Asking these questions helps us to understand what skills you could bring to the classroom and to a company after graduation.
- One recommendation form is required, the other is optional. We require that applicants have one completed recommendation form in order for your application to be considered complete and be reviewed by the admissions team. We will, however, accept up to two. There is no penalty for providing just one recommender. Some applicants choose to supply two recommenders to provide the admissions team with different perspectives on their skillset.
- Choose a professional recommender who knows you well. The admissions team is looking for feedback from someone who knows the quality of your work very well. Normally, this person is a direct supervisor, however we know that these individuals aren’t always available. A colleague, former supervisor, or vendor are all acceptable recommenders. We would urge you to not provide an academic recommender, as the questions we ask center around your performance in a work setting.
- Quality recommendations hold greater weight. The title of your recommender will not be a determining factor in whether or not you are admitted to our program. A quality recommendation from someone who knows you and your work well, however, could.
- Start your application early. Do the recommendation first. An incomplete recommendation form consistently disrupts applications from moving through the review process. I think this is the case because many applicants start their application mere days before the application deadline and they don’t realize that the the recommendation form must be sent from the application itself. Therefore, your recommender cannot start working on their form until you send it to them from the application. Since the recommendation form is the one aspect of your application that you do not have direct control over, it’s to your benefit to get this information to your recommender as soon as possible.
Hopefully this article helped explain and de-mystify the recommendation requirement of the Wisconsin MBA Application. If you have additional questions about admissions requirements or deadlines, please feel free to visit our website for more information.
Remember – start your application early to ensure your recommender has enough time to complete their recommendation form! The application for the Class of 2019 opens on September 1, 2016!