Priya Patel
June 20, 2024
min read

Can You Submit College Applications Before Teacher Recommendations?

Written by
Priya Patel
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Can I submit my application before my recommendations?

You are allowed to submit your application before your counselor or teacher submits their forms or letters of recommendation. The Common Application system allows recommendations to be submitted even after the student has submitted their application. However, it is important to communicate with your recommenders early on to ensure they will be able to complete and submit a recommendation in a timely manner.

Who to Ask

Choosing the right recommenders is the first step. Select teachers or counselors who know you well and can speak to your strengths, achievements, and character. Ideally, these should be teachers from your junior or senior year, as they can provide the most recent and relevant insights. Consider teachers from subjects where you have excelled or those with whom you have developed a strong rapport. They can offer unique perspectives on your academic capabilities and personal qualities.

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When to Ask

Aim to ask for recommendations at least two to three months before your application deadline. You can even ask as early as the end of your junior year and throughout the summer before your senior year. This gives your recommenders ample time to write thoughtful and detailed letters. Early requests also show your recommenders that you are organized and serious about your college applications.

How to Ask

A face-to-face request, if possible, is always best, followed by an email that provides all necessary details and deadlines. Help your recommenders write the best letter possible by providing them with your resume, a list of your achievements, and any specific points you would like them to highlight. You may also choose to send an email, here are some of the key points you want to mention in an email: Start with a polite greeting and clearly state that you are requesting a letter of recommendation for your college applications. Explain why you selected this teacher, highlighting the positive impact of their class on your academic journey. Mention the colleges or universities you are applying to and the relevant deadlines. Provide a specific date by which you need the recommendation letter, typically 2-3 months before the application deadline. Offer to provide your resume, a list of achievements, and any specific points or experiences you would like highlighted in the letter. Ask if they need any more information from you and offer to meet to discuss further. Thank them for considering your request and acknowledge the effort they will put into writing the letter. End with a polite closing, including your full name and contact information.

Why Submitting Applications Early Can Help

First and foremost, submitting your application early can significantly reduce stress by avoiding the last-minute rush and the anxiety that comes with looming deadlines. Early submission ensures that your application is in the queue for review, even if your recommendations arrive later. This can be particularly important for schools with rolling admissions or early decision programs. For rolling admissions, early submission can improve your chances of acceptance as spots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. For early decision or early action programs, it demonstrates your commitment and interest in the school, potentially giving you an edge over other applicants.

Final Tips

By planning ahead and submitting your applications early, you can streamline your college application journey and increase your chances of success. Early submission allows you to focus on other aspects of your senior year, such as preparing for standardized tests, working on scholarship applications, or participating in extracurricular activities. It also provides more time to address any issues that may arise with your application, ensuring a smoother and less stressful process. Additionally, early submission can demonstrate your commitment and seriousness to admissions officers, potentially giving you a competitive edge. This proactive approach can lead to more thoughtful and polished applications, as you won't be rushing to meet deadlines. Moreover, it provides an opportunity to seek feedback from mentors or advisors, allowing for further refinement of your application materials. By getting ahead of the timeline, you can navigate the college application process with confidence and poise. Good luck!

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