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traditionalthankyouThe 2013-2014 application season may be winding to a close for the most part, but there’s still one important task left for many applicants: writing thank-you notes. While some probably wrote and sent such notes long ago, now’s the perfect time to send them if you haven’t yet done so.

Now, I’m not using this post to launch a moral crusade about the dying art of the thank-you note; rather, I think it’s important to recognize that now more than ever, applying to college, business school, graduate school, or any other educational institution is in many ways a collaborative process. Between researching dozens (if not hundreds) of schools, preparing for and taking standardized tests, securing letters of recommendation, authoring multiple essays, paying fees, and completing financial-aid paperwork, it is virtually impossible to complete an application today singlehandedly. One applicant may receive vital assistance from multiple teachers, parents, guidance counselors, and coworkers, among others.

A thank-you note does not have to be a lengthy or over-the-top statement of gratitude. Instead, it should adhere to many of the same guidelines we give regarding admissions essays. All a thank-you note needs to succeed is clarity, honesty, and a personal touch. Here are a few points that should help you incorporate those elements into your thank-you notes.

  1. Mention what you’re thanking the individual for. This will emphasize that you noticed and appreciated his or her unique contribution to your application, whether a letter of recommendation or proofread of your final essay draft, and that you’re not just sending out generic notes to a large group of people.
  2. Make your statement of thanks genuine. Don’t just say, “Thanks for X.” Instead, take a sentence or two to elaborate on why you appreciate what that individual did for you.
  3. If you’ve made an admissions decision, feel free to share. While this is not required, most individuals who contribute to an application are interested in hearing how the process turns out. You can use your thank-you note as an opportunity to share where you’ve decided to attend. Just don’t whine or complain if things didn’t turn out precisely how you hoped they would.

Now, let’s put these points into action and turn a rather bland statement of thanks into a much more compelling thank-you note. First, the original:

Thank you for helping with my application. I really appreciate it.

And now, a more personal statement of thanks.

I sincerely appreciate the time you spent helping me proofread my essay. Writing has never been my strongest attribute, and your guidance made me confident that my essay was technically sound before I sent it. I’m excited to say that I’ve been accepted to X University and will be starting there next fall. Thanks again for your help!

That’s all it takes. And remember, even if the individual’s contribution was small or something most take for granted, a brief thank-you note is never a bad idea. Given the complexity and competitiveness of admissions today, we at EssayEdge sincerely encourage you to formally thank those who have helped you navigate that challenging process.