Monday, December 23, 2013

Sample MBA Recommendation Letters (are not what you need)

I am often asked to provide sample recommendation letters. In fact, you probably found this blog entry because that is exactly what you were looking for!  What I've found is that those that want samples are really looking for a better understanding of how ideal recommendation letter answers should be structured, the level of detail required, and what kind of assessment of the applicant is provided in them. For this, rather than samples, all that is needed is good advice.

Here are the factors that, to me, make a recommendation letter impactful.

1. They include specific and detailed examples.

A good recommendation letter offers clear and specific examples. Ae you a great leader? If your supervisor agrees, than they may write this in their letter. However, it is too easy just to write "so and so is a great leader". Instead, he/she should be able to derail a specific episode that shows you are a great leader. What did you do? What did you not do? How did you do it? These details should be included, and from the perspective of the referee. This last detail is important, and is picked up in the next point.

2. They include opinions as to how you have developed and in what ways.

It's not enough for a recommendation letter to relay the story behind one of your great successes. Rather, a good recommendation letter should (a) relay that story from the point-of-view of the referee, and then (b) he/she should detail the strengths or skills that you demonstrated or developed over the course of that episode.  This, in total, offers a detailed and comprehensive assessment of you.

3. They have insightful and interesting strengths and weaknesses.

I think the strengths part here is obvious. If the writer of your recommendation knows you well, then it stands that they should also know your weaknesses. No one's perfect right? I recommendation letter with no weaknesses, or one with uninteresting weaknesses (time management is simply not insightful enough to stand out.  

If your recommendation letter has all three of these things going for it, then chances are it will stand out from the crowd, because it will be insightful and memorable.  That's what makes a recommendation letter good.

John Couke

Saturday, December 7, 2013

UCSD Rady MBA Program Event in Tokyo: December 23rd, 2013

Please review the message below from a current student of the MBA program at UCSD Rady about an upcoming information session to be held in Tokyo on December 23rd, 2013.

John Couke

12/23 () UCSD Rady School of Management - MBAプログラム説明会
UCSD(カリフォルニア大学サンディエゴ校) Rady School of Managementでは、在校生&卒業生によるMBAプログラム説明会を下記の通り開催します。



【日時】 20131223日(月/祝) 
     午前1030分開始 - 予定終了時刻 午前1145

  【場所】 六本木ヒルズ49 アカデミーヒルズ カンファレンスルーム1
     東京都港区六本木6-10-1 六本木ヒルズ森タワー
  【言語】 日本語
  【費用】 無料



     Rady Team Japan一同

 山本 (Class of 2014)   

 大場 (Class of 2014)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Interview with Eddie Asbie, Assistant Director of Admissions at the Cornell Johnson MBA Program

I am pleased to offer this interview with Eddie Asbie, the Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.

Your Introduction

1. How did you get involved in this line of work? What do you like about MBA admissions?

During my undergraduate years, I noticed how supportive the community was as they helped guide students personally and professional towards their career goals.  This is when I knew this line of work was what I wanted to do.  I truly enjoy working in admissions because you have the opportunity to meet interesting candidates from all around the world.  In the business world, our candidates are coming from very impressive backgrounds and it is encouraging to see what our future may look like.   


2. Should an applicant bother applying if their TOEFL is only 98 or 99?

I would encourage candidates to still apply to Johnson if they have a 98 or 99 on their TOEFL.  Our application process has a holistic approach but it is important to show your English is strong.

3. Do you have sub-score requirements for the TOEFL R, L, S and W sections? How about the GMAT verbal and quantitative sections?

We would like to see a candidate with a 100 TOEFL score and 25 in each subsection.  As for the GMAT and GRE, we like to see candidates in the 70% or higher in both sections.

4. How important is the interview to the overall process? What are you looking for?

The interview is another important part in the application process.  The majority of your application is out of your control but the interview gives you the opportunity to highlight your strengthens.  Ultimately, we are looking for a candidate who is genuine and honest.  Someone who knows how to articulate their goals and understands our program.  I find it disappointing when a candidate sounds very rehearsed and knows nothing about our program.  Please come prepared!

5. How important is it for a student to visit campus?

Visiting campus is important.  If you are considering spending a year or two in another city/country and investing your money into the program you want to make sure it’s worth it.  Especially if you are bring a family with you.  We want you to be excited about being here and feel connected to our community.  We would highly recommend visiting, no matter what school you are apply to.

The MBA Experience

6. How do MBA students benefit from other schools within the greater Cornell institution? Can you give an example of an extra-curricular event or club that involves students from many different programs, including the MBA?

One of the beneficial things about getting an MBA from Johnson is that you have the opportunity to interact with other programs in the Cornell community.  We have students who are completing a dual degree, whether a JD, MD, etc.  If you are interested in the dual degree, please check out this website,  Also, we have many different clubs and organizations to choice from.  Here are a list clubs that we offer at Johnson,

Life outside the Program

7. Many applicants have to consider the small town vs big city question when choosing potential destination schools. What's your take on this question, specifically related to Ithaca?

I believe this is a very important factor to consider when applying to business school.  We talk about “fit” all the time and that’s important.  You have to think, “Am I going to be happy in a small town vs. a big city?”  Here in Ithaca you will get a very diverse and international experience.  Being a smaller town, you will foster close relationships and experience a close knit community.

Last Question

8. Is there anything you wish I'd asked?

No, I think these a great questions for candidates as they prepare for the applications process.  As mentioned before, it is very important to come prepared during this entire process.  We want applicants to feel connected to Johnson but truly understand why they need an MBA and how Johnson can help them in their future career goals. 

 Eddie - thanks very much for your time!

John Couke