Getting to Know You

December 12. 2013
by Anna Lucia Roybal

The best part of my job in admissions is getting to know you - all of you – hearing your stories and getting a feel for why you’re looking at Rady’s MBA program. 

You want to know what I’m thinking as I’m reading through your application?  It boils down to this, “Is this person the right fit for Rady?”  Much like Goldilocks, I’m trying to make sure it’s just right.  Which is why it’s incredibly frustrating when I read mediocre letters of recommendation.   

Letters of recommendation are a prime piece of real estate in your application.  It gives the admissions team an outsider view of your strengths, weaknesses, potential to be a senior manager, and contributions that you’ve made to your organization.  Why would you pick someone who couldn’t write about these topics in detail?  Why?  

Dramatics aside, you may have thought that your application would look more impressive if your recommender has a fancy-pants title.  If they can’t provide solid examples, then they’re going to hinder rather than help your cause.  In fact, this very example is listed on mba.com’s Tips on Requesting Recommendations, “Do not ask people with important job titles who do not know you or your work.”  Seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised.      

My advice for figuring out the best recommender is this:

  • Log into your online application
  • On the left-hand side column (under Important Links), click Downloadable Forms
  • Clicking the Recommendation Form will allow you to see the 6 questions that we ask your recommender to answer about you in their letter
  • If you know what we’re asking, then it will be that much easier to decide who would be best to answer in detail

MBA.com goes on to say that you should, “Provide recommenders with an updated resume to assist in highlighting your accomplishments.”  Not a bad idea.  Meeting up for some coffee to discuss what you’ve been up to lately might work as well.  I know the peppermint mocha at Starbucks definitely puts me in a good mood - ready to listen and write favorable recommendations.

Anna Lucia Roybal is the Assistant Director of MBA Recruitment and Admissions at the Rady School of Management. A southern California girl through and through, Anna is a UCSD alumna – class of 2002. When she isn’t providing her calming presence in the fast-paced world of admissions, you’ll find her baking up a storm at mysweetmia.com