In just a month we’ll all be gathered around our respective dinner tables, passing mashed potatoes (yum) and creamed onions (eww) and waiting, inevitably, for Dad to pose the question, “What are you thankful for this year?” …at least this is what happens at my house. I’ll complain about this corny Danny Tanner moment, but then I’ll play along. When it’s my turn, I’ll have plenty to be thankful for: my good health as well as that of my family and friends, a stable job, the Sox winning the World Series (hopefully), and of course, the greatest objects of my affection, my sister’s babies, Jack and Caroline. What will you be thankful for? Will your proclamation of thanks be related to your recent college search? Do the people who have helped you (parents/teacher/counselor/mentor) know that you appreciate them?
There was an article in this week’s NY Times that addressed the role of the thank you note in the college admissions process. The article detailed how some colleges appreciate a letter of thanks for a tour, interview, or day visit. Other colleges shred these expressions of gratitude which, to them, serve only to fill already overflowing recycling bins. The article suggests that more and more students and parents are writing notes to college admissions counselors as a strategic ploy for gaining them an edge. When was the last time you heard of a student being admitted based on the flowery cursive, elevated diction, or artistic stationery of their thank you note?
It’s pretty simple: if you appreciate getting a thank you note, write one. If you were impressed by the student/teacher/counselor/alumni with whom you interacted, write one. A thank you note does not get you into college. Does it demonstrate that you’re thoughtful? Yes. Does it show us you’re interested in the college? Yes. Do we like to see that you took time out of your busy schedule to write a thank you note? Yes. This is not an ego trip, however. We do not paper our walls with laudatory notes, and no matter how many compliments you bestow on us, your note will never be the deciding factor in an acceptance. Similarly, there will not a gaping hole in your application if you don’t send one. Bottom line: don’t send one if you don’t mean it.
So this Thanksgiving, let those who have helped you know that they are appreciated. Your guidance counselor, parent, teacher will be happy you did.
Allison P. Rose ’06