Vocaz Research Update

Dear all,

This update is based on:

1. Our current analysis of last season’s success cases.

2. Our recent conversations with Deans of Admission.

The bottom line: using notes, if and when necessary, could give you a tactical advantage in the admissions process.

Estimated level of impact on admission chances: 2 out of 5 (5 is highest).

Notes can be sent separately as hard copy, included in the "open essay," or inserted into the "optional space" or "notes section" in the online application.

General Format of a Note

30 XXX St., Apt. 2605
City, State 19103
+1 532 698 758
September 14, 200X

The Admissions Committee
[or, you can use a specific name, such as the name of the Dean of Admission, then add the title in the second line]
The Columbia Graduate School of Business
Columbia University
Address XXX
New York, NY 10005 [there should be two spaces between the state and the zipcode]

Dear Admissions Officer: [or: Dear Ms. Martinelli, or: Dear Sir or Madame, etc.]

* letter content here *

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. [or other variations]

Yours truly, [or other variations]

Joe Smith [could add handwritten signature if hard copy]

Note on Extra Recommendations
If you add an extra recommendation, add a note clarifying which recommendation is the extra one (we don't want the school to make a mistake about which is the extra one, because they may not read the extra one) and why you thought you should add it.

In the note, clearly explain that this recommendation adds the XXX perspective, which was not covered by the other recommendations, and therefore you chose to add it as an extra recommendation.

Outline for a Note:

1. I have provided an additional recommendation from XXX
2. I have provided this additional recommendation because…. [explain what new
angle the additional recommendation covers, an angle which is not covered in the required recommendations]
3. I hope that this additional recommendation will help the admission committee evaluate my candidacy
4. I am aware that the admission committee has asked for X recommendations
5. Optional: I am aware that you may not read this additional recommendation

Example of a Note:


Joe X

The Admission Office

Dear Sir or Madame,
Attached is an additional recommendation from Dr. John Smith, The General Manager of the XXX Ministry of the Treasury, who was my supervisor at Arthur Andersen. I hope that this recommendation will provide the Admission Committee with information regarding my performance in a non-managerial, hands-on position. Since this is a fourth, extra recommendation, I am aware that the Admission Committee may not read, or may not consider, this recommendation.

Thanks and regards,

Joe X

Suggest to the recommender to mention that he initiated the recommendation (if he really did). This is especially important if the school asks not to add an extra recommendation, or if you are providing two extra recommendations.
For example:

"I asked Joe X to provide this recommendation letter because I strongly believe that it is an utmost interest of the [country name] business leadership, and the [country name] economy, to have Joe admitted to the Stanford GSB.
Even after Joe explained to me that he is not to provide more than three letters of recommendation, I asked him to give me the opportunity to add this letter to his application, and I hope that you will accept it.
While [country name] has numerous ultra-talented young individuals, Joe is one of the rare few who have the option to achieve extraordinary success in the business world and still decide to pursue a career in the public, non-profit sectors. We desperately lack bright individuals with strong management and business orientation in this sector and could significantly improve our economy, and our lives, if we had more such people.
It is critical for us that Joe, who has already proven himself in this sector, acquire the best managerial education possible."

Note on Photocopies
If you send a Photocopy, you should add a note explaining what you sent and why.

Note example:
I have translated and attached to my application two additional letters:
- A letter from the Minister of Tourism
- A letter from XXX University
I hope that these letters help the admission committee evaluate my candidacy [or: get to know me better, etc.]
I am aware that the admission committee has not asked for such letters [and may not read them].
I have attached these letters because… [they clarify this and that new information about me, they verify this and that data…]

Note on Family Business Recommendation
I did not provide a recommendation from my current employer, Riko Marketing Ltd.
This company is owned by my family. Although I could probably get a strong recommendation about my work with Riko, I did not see it as appropriate to provide a recommendation from a close relative. If the admission committee finds it appropriate and necessary, I will be happy to provide such letter of recommendation or any other document regarding my work with the company.

Note on Missing Recommendation
Although the admission committee requires a letter from a current employer, I did not provide such letter because….(e.g. the company has a history of firing people who apply to business school). Provide factual evidence to support your claim (quotes, numbers, cases).
If the admission committee finds it appropriate and necessary, I will provide such letter of recommendation.
Provide evidence that you are successful in this job.

Creative Notes for Special Circumstances

Dear Ms. Leesem,

Yesterday, March 26 2003, I was assigned a telephone interview for April 3rd, 2003, 12:30 Boston time. I asked if there is any possibility to perform this interview earlier and was answered that no earlier date is available.
I would like to explain my schedule problem. Two weeks ago I was informed that I was admitted to The Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania). Unfortunately, I have to respond to their offer of admissions by April 15, 2003.
Undoubtedly, I prefer studying at Harvard Business School to studying at Wharton or any other business school. Nevertheless, I would not want to miss the option to study at Wharton if I am not admitted to Harvard.
I understand that there is no possibility to conduct the interview earlier. Yet, if such possibility arises, I would very much appreciate if you could let me know.

Thank you very much for your help,
Joe Smith

My Work was Top Secret
Despite the fact that it could improve my position in the admission process, I was unable to describe the full nature of my X years of work as an intelligence officer.
I was also unable to describe all of my achievements during that period.
I am unable to provide such details due to the highly confidential nature of my intelligence experience.
I tried to describe as much as possible within the confidentiality limits.
If the admission committee finds it necessary, I will be happy to provide additional, non-confidential documents, certifications and recommendations that could shed more light on my intelligence experience.

Length of Work Experience Includes Pre-college Work
I was asked in the online application to note the number of months of full-time work experience.
Most of my full-time work experience is pre-college (military work), and some of it is during college.
Therefore, I included the military work experience when noting the number of months of my full-time work experience.


Hope this helps. Much luck with the process,

The Vocaz Research Team


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