The right time to ask for recommendations

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Generally, the earlier you start the better. It always takes more time to do things than you think, and everyone will put things off until the last minute. If you start everything early, you'll have plenty of time to prepare your best application.

Asking for recommendations can be a tricky process. You want to make sure you spend enough time choosing who to ask, but you also want to give them plenty of time to prepare the recommendation.


The short answer is, the earlier the better. If you can narrow down three to four people to ask by the end of September of your senior year, you're probably in good shape. Many students will wait until the last minute, and that will result in rushed recommendations or they may not have time to write you a recommendation at all.


You also want to make sure you have a good idea of which schools you are going to apply to before you ask anyone for recommendations. Some schools have very specific requirements, and you'll want to be sure to follow all of the instructions.


Teachers who teach mostly juniors will be swamped with requests, so be sure to ask these teachers as early as possible.


If you are applying to any school early decision or early action, it's especially critical that you ask for recommendations as early as possible because you'll have a smaller window of time to complete your application than if you were applying regular decision.


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