Letters of recommendation are the one key part of the MBA application process that most applicants have little to no control over. Of course you can influence the quality of your recommendation through your performance leading up to the ultimate request, but the actual delivery is totally out of your control.
What further complicates the recommendation process for many is the fact that applicants also have to deal with two, three and sometimes four recommenders for an application season, or even for a single application. For some the process can be simple, but for others it is more difficult, especially with recommendations often coming from busy senior management members.
The level of anxiety MBA candidates have over letters of recommendation is often through the roof! But fear not – the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has heard your pleas. GMAC, better known as the organization that administers the GMAT exam, has recently introduced a Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR).
The main goal of this new initiative is to save recommenders and applicants time during application season. The Common LOR will offer recommenders a single recommendation form with a common set of questions. GMAC also offers an application system that houses these LOR responses for each participating school so each recommendation is in one central location, making updates or edits a breeze.
The Common LOR assessment grid is based on 16 leadership competencies which are grouped in five categories: Achievement, Influence, People, Personal Qualities, and Cognitive Abilities. The form also includes three more qualitative and open-ended recommendation questions that are very similar to other independent LOR questions asked by MBA programs in the past. These questions are based on the applicant’s overall performance, comparative performance, and required development in an organization.
There are currently only a handful of schools that are part of the common LOR form, with some business schools (like Michigan Ross, Cornell Johnson, and Columbia) using the entire form, and other schools (such as Stanford, NYU Stern, Darden, and Berkeley Haas) using just the recommendation questions. GMAC is still trying to evangelize the Common LOR to the remaining MBA community, which will take some time as the form has not been available for long.
As more business schools begin to utilize the GMAC’s Common LOR form, make sure you stay abreast of the latest and greatest information, as this form can certainly save all those who are involved in the recommendation process tons of time.
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Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.