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  • Malvika Patil

Should I Waive my Right to Read my MBA Letters of Recommendation?

Updated: Jun 9



When you apply for MBA programs, you will be asked to fill in the details of your recommender/s in the school’s application portal. For most schools, recommenders are asked to directly submit their letters of recommendation (LoRs) through the school’s online system. Applicants do not have the opportunity to read their LoRs at this stage. 


However, you will be given two options: to waive the right to view the recommendations they submit, or to retain the right to view them at a later date. Here's what that may look like on the school's portal (Example from the University of Chicago's MBA application):



A question we get often is: will choosing one over the other affect the application decision? Let’s discuss.


Should I waive my right to access my letter of recommendation?


Under the US Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), all enrolled students have the right to inspect and review their educational records, which include their letters of recommendation. Schools are therefore obligated to give you the option to waive or retain your right of access.


In our experience, you should ALWAYS waive your right of access to your recommendation. 


Recommendation letters provide a confidential, third-party perspective of the applicant’s profile and achievements. Waiving your right to read them means that you trust the judgment of the people you have personally picked to recommend you. It means that you are confident in your relationship with them and what they have written about you.


Note that the school will notify your recommender of your choice. Your recommender is more likely to write candidly about your strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and skills when they know that you won’t read it. Sometimes, recommenders make comparisons with peers that they may not want you to read. They may soften their opinions or write in generic terms about your candidacy if they know that you will read it - leading to a less effective letter of recommendation. 


So don’t risk it; waive your right to access.



What if I don’t want to waive this right?


Applicants who don’t want to waive their right to access their recommendations may be worried about factual mistakes that their recommender could have made, or may feel insecure about not knowing what’s in the letter.


Your choice will not affect your application decision in any way. But note that FERPA only allows enrolled students to access their records, so you will not be able to read your recommendations until you are admitted to the program. 


If you absolutely must choose this option, discuss it with your recommender in advance. In any case, it’s likely that you will have discussed the contents of the letter with your recommender already. They may just show it to you before they send it!


Can I change my answer after I have submitted my recommender’s information?


No. You cannot change your answer after submitting your recommender’s information and contact details.



Get started with your MBA applications and refer to real letter of recommendation examples based on successful applicants. Join MBAconsultant.com now!

 

Want to guide your recommender to write a powerful letter of recommendation? We’re here to help. Book a free chat with one of our expert consultants today.

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