For class of 2023, is now (Feb) too soon to solicit letters of recommendation for MOC noms? MOCs similarly ask for 3 letters (one MOC specifies one from a teacher). Since Nom package is due in November, would letters written and dated now look “stale” or begin to lose there “expiration date”?
Do not be shy about having the applicant contact your MOC service academy rep to see what timing they prefer. I have found that they appreciate being asked. We have gone through the nomination process three times with three different kids and three different Representatives (due to a retirement and redistricting). Each gave different answers on timing, but each appreciated being asked their oreference.
Also, allow more time than you think it will take because you cannot predict all the bumps in the road. For example, my DS's counselor refused to write him a letter of recommendation (which was required to be from a counselor) not because DS was not a great kid, but because she is a rabid anti-war crazy person who refused to assist making another "baby-killer." Luckily my DS started asking in the spring of his junior year. If he had waited until fall, it would have been an even bigger mess. Remember, you are entering a world where on time is late.
I asked my teachers and a coach in April of my Junior year. They all were very supportive and enthusiastic, and they agreed to have the letters ready at the beginning of my Senior year. However, if you are applying to more than one Service Academy, you will find that each academy has different requirements. For instance, USMA didn't require LOR's (Letter of Recommendation), but it did require 4 SOE's (School Official Evaluation), one each from a math, science, English teacher and a coach/PE teacher. USAFA required SOE's from three teachers, but also asked ("optional" according to portal instructions, but not optional) for LOR's from two sources separate from your teachers. Additionally, my MOC's all had different requirements for the LOR's. One senator required three sealed letters, one required four which had to be sent electronically, and one just wanted three letters in his package.
My counselors had zero experience with the service academies, so this site was invaluable to me. I provided a package to each of the individuals I asked to send referrals on my behalf. Included in that package was a letter of transmittal, resume, 2 page essay that explained the service academies (what they are, what they look for in a candidate, and why I would be a good candidate), a copy of a USAFA SOE form, and a list of addresses (there were about 10 of them) for each letter. You will need email addresses for the people you ask to provide these LOR's and SOE's because the portals use their email to send a link and password directly to the teacher; the teacher then sends the form or letter directly to the Academy. My teachers were kind enough to give me their phone numbers as well, so we could text over the summer, if necessary.
Tell your teachers up front that this process will be more involved than a normal Letter of Recommendation. All of my evaluators allowed me to see their letters before they were sent, and I was truly amazed at how they used the information I provided to write outstanding letters that were geared toward a Service Academy rather than a normal university.