What have you been told about applying to business school? With the advent of chat rooms, blogs, and forums, armchair “experts” often unintentionally propagate MBA admissions myths, which can linger and undermine an applicant’s confidence. Some applicants are led to believe that schools want a specific “type” of candidate and expect certain GRE scores and GPAs, for example. Others are led to believe that they need to know alumni from their target schools and/or get a letter of reference from the CEO of their firm in order to get in. In this series, mbaMission debunks these and other myths and strives to take the anxiety out of the admissions process.
At mbaMission, we emphasize the need for effective written communication. Indeed, gaining admission to your target business school involves no real “trick”—earning that coveted letter of acceptance depends on your ability to tell your story in a compelling way and in your own words. But is good grammar vital to good communication? And if so, will your recommender’s bad grammar be detrimental to your chances?
We can assure you that no MBA admissions committee will reject a candidate’s application because he/she incorrectly used a semicolon instead of a comma. The committee is seeking to learn about you as an individual to evaluate you and your potential, both as a student at the school and in the business world after graduation. What is most important in your application is that you convey your unique stories—and ideally captivate your reader—in your own voice. Of course, you should always strive to perfect your presentation, but in the end, the quality and authenticity of your content carry more weight than your verbiage and punctuation. And if you are not a native English speaker, you can certainly be forgiven for the occasional idiosyncrasy in your expression.
This is even truer for your recommender. The committee is not evaluating this individual for a spot in the school’s program, so his/her grammar is largely irrelevant to your candidacy. And again, if your recommender is not a native English speaker, the admissions committees can be even more forgiving. The school will not penalize you for having a recommender who grew up in another country or whose English skills are not very polished for any other reason. As long as your recommender can offer anecdotes about your performance that create a strong impression about you and complement the abilities and qualities you have presented elsewhere in your application, you should be just fine. The substance of the recommendation is always what matters most. 📝
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