Admissions Myths Destroyed: My Rec’s Grammar Will Ruin My Chances

At mbaMission, we are always emphasizing effective written communication (written communication, written communication, written communication!).  Indeed, there is no real “trick” to gaining admission to your target school—earning that coveted letter of acceptance depends on your ability to tell your story in a compelling way 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?

Despite our passion for written communication, we can assure you that no MBA admissions committee will reject a candidate’s application because he or 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 your target 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 more true for your recommender. The committee is not evaluating him or her for a spot in the school’s program, so your recommender’s grammar is largely irrelevant to your candidacy. And again, if he or she 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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