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MBA申请者为什么自己动手写推荐信?

Lauren Everitt 2013年07月17日

调查发现,近4成的申请人被要求自己撰写自己的推荐信。然而,大多数入学顾问相信,真实数据要高得多,大概每10封攻读MBA学位的推荐信中,有多达6封是申请者本人所写。这在MBA招生领域已经是一个公开的秘密,而大多数顶级商学院对这种现象置若罔闻。这背后到底有什么样的隐情?

    克里斯托弗的推荐信到达某所顶尖商学院的招生办公室时,它们几乎堪称完美。

    推荐人盛赞申请者的领导才能和团队技能,极力夸奖他的首创精神、好奇心和积极性。推荐信中包含许多细致入微的事件叙述,衬托出申请者栩栩如生的形象。

    问题是,他的推荐人从来没有写过这些褒奖之词。相反,这些信是申请者自己写就的。

    克里斯托弗(本文作者更改了他的名字,以保护其隐私)并没有为自己亲手撰写推荐信而道歉,他也不相信哪家商学院有什么好办法改变这种行为。

    “谁会知道啊?”克里斯托弗最近刚刚从一所位居美国前三强的商学院毕业。“收到的申请书那么多,学校不会比较推荐信和申请书的写作风格。显然,要是他们认真比对的话,我也就上不了商学院了。”

    克里斯托弗的“手艺活”并不是一个孤立的案例。国际研究生入学顾问协会(AIGAC)最近公布的一项调查显示,38%的申请人被要求撰写自己的推荐信。然而,大多数入学顾问相信,真实数据要高得多——每10封攻读MBA学位的推荐信中,有多达6封是申请者本人所写。

    不过,即使这样的调查结果也已经让许多招生主任惊讶不已了,因为他们认为各自的学校一直在对MBA申请者进行相当公允的第三方评估。“我们知道有些申请者被要求撰写自己的推荐信,但我从来没有料到这种行为竟然如此普遍,”达特茅斯学院(Dartmouth College)塔克商学院(Tuck School of Business)招生主任唐娜•克拉克说。“我不介意学生坐下来与推荐人交流,但我现在正尝试着埋头研究推荐信的真实性。”

    然而,在几位MBA申请者和入学顾问看来,真实性或许难以企及。美亚咨询集团(Amerasia Consulting Group)的亚当•霍夫承认:“商学院申请人经常被推荐人告知,‘你自己写吧,我署个名就行。’4年前头一次涉足商学院咨询领域时,我就被惊呆了。我简直不敢相信有这么多申请者自己在撰写自己的推荐信,然后还把这些信件拿到入学顾问面前,帮忙做进一步的加工。”

    接受采访时,克里斯托弗要求不要透露母校的名称,因为“一旦他们知道这件事,就会拼命追查这个人是谁的。”随后他对自己的行为进行了一番辩护:顶头上司的英语不够流利,“根本就不知道推荐信的结构,” 他这样解释道。“因此,我用合乎体统的英文写了一封信,而且让它给人一种我是一位好员工的感觉。我的确是好员工,我并没有美化自己,他也觉得这样做没什么问题。”

    When the letters of recommendation for Christopher arrived in the admissions office of a top-ranked business school, they were just about perfect.

    The recommenders raved about the candidate's leadership abilities and team skills. They praised his initiative, curiosity and motivation. And they did so in unusually detailed anecdotes that allowed the applicant to come alive.

    Problem was, his recommenders had never written those favorable words. Instead, the letters were drafted by the applicant himself.

    Christopher, whose name has been changed to protect his privacy, makes no apologies for writing his own recommendations nor does he believe that a school can do much about it.

    "Who's going to know?" Christopher recently graduated from one of the top three business schools in the U.S. "With the number of applications coming in, schools aren't going to compare writing styles between the recommendation letters and the applications. Obviously, if they did that, I wouldn't have been in business school."

    Christopher's handiwork is not an isolated case. A recently published survey by the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) found that 38% of applicants were asked to write their own recommendation letters. Most admission consultants, however, believe the number is much higher -- with as many as six out of 10 letters written by MBA applicants.

    Still, even the survey results surprised many admission directors because they believed their schools were getting fairly candid, third party assessments of MBA candidates. "We were aware of the fact that some applicants are asked to write their own recommendations, but I wouldn't have guessed it would be that high," says Dawna Clarke, director of admissions at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business. "I don't have a problem with a student sitting down and talking to a recommender, but I am trying to wrap my head around the authenticity of the recommendations now."

    Authenticity, however, may be fairly elusive, according to several MBA applicants and admission consultants. "Business school applicants are often told by recommenders, 'You write it, and I'll sign it,'" concedes Adam Hoff, of Amerasia Consulting Group. "When I first got involved in the business school arena four years ago, I was stunned. I couldn't believe the number of people who were writing their own letters of recommendation and who then brought the letters back to a consultant to help them with it."

    Christopher, who asked that his alma mater not be named because "if they found out, there would be a witch hunt," explains that his direct supervisor was not fluent in English. "He had no clue how to construct a recommendation letter," he says in defense of his actions. "Because of that, I wrote the letter in proper English and made it sound like I'm a good employee, which I am. I didn't embellish, and he was fine with it."

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