Use your best judgment on who you decide to ask - there is no set formula for who should be your recommenders. We know it is not always possible to have a direct supervisor write your recommendation – we would not want you to jeopardize your current position for the application process. Look at the questions we are asking recommenders to complete. Find people who know you well enough to answer them. This can be a former supervisor, a colleague, someone you collaborate on an activity outside of work. How well a person knows you should take priority over level of seniority or HBS alumni status.
No matter which essay option you choose, keep in mind the purpose of the essay. The college to which you are applying uses the Common Application which means the school has holistic admissions . The college wants to get to know you as a person, not just as a list of SAT scores and grades . Make sure your essay captures YOU. The admissions folks should finish reading your essay with a much clearer sense of who you are and what it is that interests and motivates you. Also, make sure your essay paints a positive portrait. The admissions folks are considering inviting you to join their community. They will not want to extend an invitation to someone who comes across as insensitive, self-centered, boastful, narrow-minded, unimaginative or indifferent.