Thank you notes

A funny article appeared October 9 in the New York Times (

The point has received a lot of discussion on some other blogs and on the admissions list serv, but I know you are on holding your breath awaiting my input – wait no longer! Please don’t send thank you notes as some kind of big strategic effort – it’s just as likely to backfire, or at least end up a source of ongoing amusement and mockery for the admissions staff. In general, however, I think a thank you note is great when appropriate. A note to your tour guide, if they were really terrific, will make their month. If you have an interview, whether with an almnus or an admissions officer, why not send a note to thank them for their time? Isn’t that just polite. Some basic tips: a thank you should be personal (although I really don’t mind the ones that come in by email) and should have some idea of why you’re thanking the person. In other words, using the thank you note a sneaky way to submit an extra admissions essay isn’t being polite, it’s cynical and a bit slimy. If instead you use it to truly thank a person for doing something valuable to you, that’s just being polite, and maybe even a nice thing to do.

PS – my personal favorite is when someone sends me a note regarding a staff member that did something nice for them – a great high school visit, a wonderful tour, sage advice – and sends a copy to the person as well, noting that they sent one to me. Even the most cynical admissions person is likely to get a lift out of knowing their boss got a ncie note about them. I’m NOT offering this as strategic advice – so please don’t all flood deans, directors, and presidents with fluffy but contentless notes. But if someone really helps you…for instance, providing an incredibly helpful blog but expecting nothing in return…

Be seeing you!


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