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A recommendation letter is a personal and confidential letter written by a recommender to the admissions committee of the program you are applying to. The recommendation letter serves as an opportunity for the admissions committee to get an opinion about the applicant from a person who have been a faculty or at a supervisory position to the applicant.
Let me just clarify one thing here - The recommendation letter is not a letter written to verify credentials. A weak recommendation letter would be a letter that would simply state the applicant’s achievements. For eg: “…she has secured 70% in my subject and had won the third prize in our technical paper presentation….. she was awarded the national merit scholarship in school ….. she has taken part in our college drama and won the second prize in the college singing competition…” Apparently these things are already evident from your transcripts and your resume. You don’t need somebody to vouch for you. The recommendation should talk about your qualities, your traits, a track record of your improvement, and maybe even your weaknesses and how you have worked at overcoming them. Well there is a lot that’s can be written on what makes a good recommendation letter, but I will leave it for some other time.
For more details on recommendation letters, refer this link
As a closing remark: If the university has provisions for online recommendations, then preferably use them.
As study abroad counselors if we come up with a list of Frequently Asked Questions by Students, then I would say “Which Universities should I apply to?” would top the list, and irrespective of the university we recommend, a question that almost certainly follows is “Is it worth going there?” So let’s step back a little and discuss ‘how to select universities that are worth applying and going to’.
When you start looking at an MS degree abroad, what exactly are you looking at? Try asking yourself:
If you are looking at the MS program just as means of getting to the US, you can probably go for any university (cheaper the better). But if you are also looking at a serious career option, then you need to be a little careful while selecting universities. Here are some factors you should consider:
And finally a question that we get asked often is “How many universities should I apply to”? Our answer to that is ‘7 to 8 universities”. Applying costs you money, so ideally we advise you to apply to not more than 8 universities.
The ‘Brand’ value: Many applicants pride themselves in saying that they work for brands like Accenture, Cap Gemini, Morgan Stanley, KPMG, Lehman Brothers, P&G, Deloitte …(and I am trying to think of other biggies in the industry, but anyways). The point is it does not make any difference if you work for Accenture or you work at Infosys or some XYZ & Sons. Get over the misconception that the big brand on your resume is going to pave your way to the MBA program.
CEO’s Recommendation: Getting a recommendation from your company’s CEO/VP/Director etc is NOT recommended unless you have been working with this person day in and day out. Your recommendation should be from a person holding a supervisory position to you and whom you have been working on a regular basis. Only then can this person write details about you.
Dad’s Friend’s Reco: Your dad’s friend might be an influential person (maybe even the president of the country, or the CEO of a Fortune 10 company), but his/her recommendation is not going to help you at all. So don’t waste your time and efforts getting that reco.
Topper in School: “I was a topper in my school/college. I won the National merit Scholarship in class 10th and I was ranked 56th in some All india Exam” and I ask “So what?”
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask and I will try my best to answer them.
Since most of my clients are Indians, I have decided to discuss things from an Indian applicant’s perspective.
Most Indian applicants have an engineering background and a significant amount of these are employed with an IT company (irrespective of what stream of engineering you came from). Some feel that this is an advantage, while many feel that this is a disadvantage. Now before we proceed further, let’s first get a few things clarified. Weather you are an engineer or hold any other degree, whether you are employed in a well reputed company or you work for your family business, it really doesn’t matter. Neither is it an advantage nor a disadvantage.
I often get asked by applicants if working for a small company is a disadvantage, and my answer is that it doesn’t matter where you work or what you work as either. A software engineer is no better than an accountant or a lawyer or a call center employee. What matters is how you distinguish yourself from others. In an MBA application what is really important is to make your application stand out from the rest.
So how do you distinguish yourself from other applicants?
Think of the MBA application as a ‘sales pitch’, and your audience is looking for future leaders – leaders who can take on responsibility and bring about a change in their environment. So the bottom line is to show that you have the leadership potential in you.
Jothsna Rege -jothsna [at]academyone.net
Jay Rege - jayrege[at]academyone.net