6. If I don't apply to graduate school my senior year but I'm planning to later, when should I get my letters of reference?

There is a lot of debate about this question, too. There are advantages to getting the letters in order before you leave school, but there are different advantages to waiting. Many students worry that their instructors will not remember them. It has been argued, however, that reference letters are professional not personal in nature, and that instructors do not need to remember you to write them. All the materials that you give the instructor (see question #2) should be enough to remind them of your merits as a student and the professional qualities you possess.

Getting letters in order before you leave school

Getting letters in order at the time of application

      You know where to find the instructor.

       The instructor remembers you.

     You will have had time to clarify the specific field you wish to study.

     The information you give your letter writers will be different from that which you would have given senior year.

     The letters will be more customized to the specific field and programs you have chosen.

If you do not waive your right to see the letter, you may ask a letter writer if they will write a letter now and then refine it later if you copy it on a disk and give it to them when you know more specifically to which programs you will apply.

Thank professors who write you letters of recommendation.
Write a warm, sincere thank you letter to each professor who has taken the time to write a letter for you.