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Application Corner: MBA Recommendation Letters and You

June 01, 2020
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Nearly all business schools you might apply to have at least one thing in common: They want to hear about you from those who know you best. Requesting MBA recommendation letters is a common experience for most applicants, and finding the right person to sing your praises can take some careful thought and planning.

We’ve collected some of the most common questions applicants to MBA programs have as they secure their letters of recommendation along with answers we hope you will find helpful as you apply to the Online MBA program at California State University, Chico.

When should you request letters of recommendation?

When starting the MBA recommendation letter process, an important first step is reviewing the upcoming application deadlines for your program of choice. Selecting the term in which you’d like to begin the program as early in the process as possible will give you sufficient time to plan, which can benefit both you and your letter writers.

Similarly, you should choose your writers and ask for letters of recommendation from them as early as possible. This will give you time to find backup options should any of your chosen recommenders be unable to commit to the task. It will also both demonstrate that you value their time and input and allow them sufficient lead time to craft the most effective letter they can on your behalf.

At Chico State, one application letter is required for admission to the Online MBA program, and you submit an official request for it as part of the online application form. This doesn’t mean you should wait until you are filling out the application form to contact your recommender, though. Any kind of advance notice you can give them will only improve the quality of your recommendation.

Who should write your recommendation letters?

While there may be no hard and fast rules as to who might write the most effective letter of recommendation for an MBA program, there are several important criteria to consider in choosing the right recommender.

First, see if your desired MBA program has any guidelines as to what types of people they have in mind as strong recommenders. If this information isn’t presented on the program’s website, ask an advisor if they have any insight into the admissions committee’s preferences.

MBA programs often want to hear from a manager or colleague who can attest to your business acumen within a professional environment. While Chico State does not have specific guidelines on this point, your chosen recommender should be deeply familiar with your potential for business success and a true believer in the quality of your character.

Whoever you choose, be sure you have a strong, positive relationship and a real connection with them. And if you can find a recommender with a personal or professional connection to your institution of choice, that is even better.

How do you ask someone to write on your behalf?

As mentioned above, it pays to start as early as possible. Try to bring up the topic of recommendation letters while you’re still in the early stages of your business school search. Before you even have a specific program or university in mind, contact your manager, advisor, professor, mentor, or whoever your recommender may be and ask them if they would be willing to help you.

If your recommender is someone who you see every day, it makes perfect sense to make this request during casual conversation. If you decide to ask someone who you have not spoken to for some time, such as a professor whose class you loved in college years ago, a brief and cordial yet formal email should do the trick.

Regardless of whether your recommender comes from an academic or a professional background, they will likely understand the compliment implicit in your request for an MBA recommendation letter. If your relationship with this person is a strong one, they will likely be more than happy to help you achieve your personal and professional goals in this manner.

Where should you send your letters of recommendation?

The answer to this question can often differ for each business school. Some programs prefer that letters be sent via email or U.S. mail directly from your recommenders to the university itself, while others will ask that they be uploaded through a form that is part of the online application system.

The latter of these two options is the case for the Online MBA program at Chico State, where applicants are asked to provide the name and email address of their recommender as they fill out the online application form. The application system then reaches out to the recommender directly with instructions for how to submit their letter. This helps keep the process as straightforward as possible and minimizes any opportunities for miscommunication or missed deadlines.

Start Your MBA Application Today at Chico State

The Online MBA program at Chico State is designed to help spur your career advancement, whether it’s with a targeted specialization in Enterprise Information Systems or Project management or through a more general path of well-rounded, skills-focused coursework.

Check out the application requirements for the Online MBA program, and read our blog post on writing a personal statement for more helpful application advice.

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