Recommendations from people who know you, like high school teachers, are usually required for college admission. The various colleges to which you apply might have special forms for recommendations, in which case you will need to acquire these forms well in advance of their due dates in order to give the people filling out the recommendations ample time.
By all means, ask the potential reference if he or she is willing to write a recommendation before sending them a form. Bear in mind that people who think well of you may be apprehensive about writing, or unsure of their writing skills. You need to comb your network to narrow it down to people you think will write something valuable to you, in an accessible form, without undue delay.
When asking someone for a recommendation, give them a stamped envelope addressed to the college admission office. You had better politely check some time later to make sure the recommendation has actually been sent. Many otherwise strong college applications have been ruined because of problems getting recommendations in on time. Recommendations are probably the weakest link in the applications chain because you must depend on someone else to come through for you. Give this part of the process plenty of attention and plenty of extra time.
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