3.1.3 Letters of recommendation
Graduate colleges typically require 3 letters of recommendation. These are simply letters (generally on the forms provided by your prospective college) from people who can comment intelligently on your abilities, knowledge, and potential for success. You get to select who these people are.
Letters of Recommendation are used to assess your candidacy for admission and financial aid. Prospective colleges assess your potential for success in your chosen field, in part, based on input from those who have been in a position to interact with you and observe your performance and abilities. This input from your "recommenders" becomes one input into the decision making. Typically, the application form contains the Recommendation Forms, which you are expected to hand off to your recommenders. The recommenders are expected to complete these forms on their own, in complete confidentiality. Either you are required to collect the Recommendation Forms in sealed envelopes from your recommenders and send them with your application, or the recommendors are expected to post these forms directly to the college.
3.1.4 Personal statement or essays
The purpose of a personal statement or of essays is to assess your ambitions, goals, interests, your rationale for pursuing the target program, your past accomplishments, your ability to articulate your thoughts, and your writing abilities. Depending on the program, you may be expected to write a one-page statement on why you are applying to the college and why you have chosen a specific discipline. You may also be asked to write about a set of topics or questions specified by the school.
You are expected to write the statement or essays on your own, without any help of any kind from anyone else. Some schools might even require you to sign a written statement to the effect that you and you alone wrote the statement or essays without any help from anyone else.
3.1.5 A special note for MBA candidates
Good MBA schools in America and Canada expect the candidates to have 2 to 5 years of work experience. Often this expectation, although very important in the decision-making, is not explicitly stated as a requirement. If you want to aim high, it is important that you have the work experience with demonstrated success in progressively challenges positions.