Thank You Notes 101

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Congratulations, Seniors! Today is May 2nd, so in addition to being that much closer to graduating, by now you have sent in the deposit to hold your spot at your dream college. Now its time to start shopping for dorm accoutrements and getting ready to take your campus by storm!

But, you know what else it’s time to do? This may be less fun than taking your campus by storm, but it is no less important: You need to sit down and write some really good thank you notes to all the people who helped you out along this weird and stressful journey that was the college application process.

If you listen to pretty much any adult anywhere, you’ll hear them lamenting the fact that texting and social media has RUINED the English language. You’ll also hear that “kids today can’t write.” Prove them wrong when you write the best and most thoughtful thank you notes ever to your teachers and recommenders.

Our Do’s and Don’ts list will help you with this endeavor:


  • Print out a mass thank you note that looks generic.
  • Wait too long to send your letters. (Right around now is the perfect time…what are you waiting for?!)
  • Use any old piece of paper from your notebook.
  • Spell your recipient’s name incorrectly.
  • Be embarrassed to be earnest. Heartfelt is appreciated.
  • Use cards from last Christmas or Halloween or a Get Well Card.


  • Choose an attractive card or piece of stationary. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just appealing.
  • Address your recipient by name: Dear Mrs. Bates, Hi Mr. Crawford…
  • Let your recipient know what you are thanking them for specifically: “I really appreciate all the times you worked with me after class to help me get my Math scores up this year.”
  • Indicate that you are excited about the future and note the role the recipient played: “It means so much to me to be going to Swarthmore next year. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
  • Include well wishes: “I hope you have a great summer and that you aren’t too sad to see the Class of 2013 leave. Next year’s students will be lucky to have you.”
  • Remember to sign your note and include an appropriate closing: Thanks, Best, Take Care, Warm Regards, Your Affectionately, etc.
  • Hand deliver your note if possible. (We don’t mean show up at someone’s house. But perhaps drop it by their classroom or office if appropriate.)

Here’s a sample to help guide you as you write your way to etiquette fame:

Dear Mrs. Bates,

I can’t believe high school is almost over! I feel like just yesterday I was a freshman, terrified of all the upperclassmen. I just wanted to thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me over the past few years. In addition to being a letter writer for me, you were also an amazing teacher and mentor. I feel lucky to have had the chance to take two classes with you. I’m so happy to be going to Syracuse next year, and you were a big part of helping me to get there. I’ll miss our class together and wish you all the best.

Suzie A. Sample

Now that you know what to Do and what Not to Do, all that’s left is to just sit down and do it. People really, really appreciate the few moments that it takes to write-out a thoughtful and personalized thank you. Thanks for reading! It means a lot to me that you took the time to…see, thank you writing is addictive!

Jamie Oldham is a college admissions coach for Just Start Applications, and a pretty great gal, too. While her interests are varied (she does have a higher degree in Liberal Arts, after all), one of her great life’s passions is helping students and parents through the admissions process, doling out great college and graduate school admissions tips along the way. Check out her full bio and contact us today to get her on your team.

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