MBA申请者自己撰写推荐信的压力也因行业而异。约有一半具有金融或会计背景的MBA申请人被要求撰写自己的推荐信，而在具有技术背景的申请者中，仅有约28%的人被要求这样做。“试想一下，申请人可能是一位身处乡村小镇的雇主。但更常见的情形是，申请人是顶尖公司的咨询师，银行家或私募领域的专业人士——这是文化的一部分，”伊斯阿丁索这样说道。她曾经担任哈佛商学院（Harvard Business School）的招生官员。
The pressure on MBAs to write their own recommendation letters also varies by industry. Half of the MBA applicants with finance or accounting backgrounds were asked to write their own letters, compared with only 28% in technology. "You'd think it'd be an employer in a small rural town somewhere, but more often than not, it's the consultants at top-tier firms or bankers or private equity professionals -- it's part of the culture," says Isiadinso, who previously worked as an admissions official at Harvard Business School.
Men (43%) are also significantly more likely to be asked to draft their own recommendations than women (27%).
For the most part, business schools are reluctant to admit there's a problem. Some admissions professionals claim they didn't know it was happening, a position that admissions consultants find hard to believe. "That's pretty naïve," says Kreisberg.
Even among schools that acknowledge the issue, most would be hard-pressed to take action. "It definitely happens and the survey proves it," says Alex Kleiner, a second-year MBA student at Harvard Business School. "It's something I would never feel comfortable doing. But if you're an admissions director, I don't really know how you combat that. You could be more explicit and say, 'If we find out your application will be rejected automatically. Other than being really tough, I don't think you can stop it."
Many schools prefer to push the issue under the rug. This don't-ask-don't-tell approach applies to students, too. Christopher, the former MBA student, says the motivation for silence is obvious: "You could be tossed out for academic dishonesty. Once you're in, nobody cares."
However, consultants and some top B-schools are toying around with ideas to curb self-written recommendations. Stanford already makes it explicitly clear that "drafting or writing your own letter of reference, even if asked to do so by your recommender, is improper and a violation of the terms of the application process."
Admissions consultant Anna Ivey proposes a common reference form, which could significantly cut the workload for recommenders, making them less likely to push the letter back on MBAs. "Some recommenders have to write more words than the applicants' essays. If you multiply that times three, four, five, it's as if the recommender is applying to business school," she says. "That's asking too much."