Recently the New York Times published an article titled Thank-You Note Enters College Admission Game. The article offers some very good advice about writing thank-you notes to college admissions officers. Karen Arenson points out a thank-you is not mandatory but is the “new Frontier” in distinguishing one applicant from another. We certainly agree, particularly with the quoted advice from Patrick J. O’Connor, a director of college counseling: “…every contact with the college contributes to their perception of you.”
But, what we bristle at is the idea that creative, tricky, cutesy, and contrived thank-yous are valuable. College Basics stresses the need for sincerity in thank-yous (See How to Make the Most of Your College Visit).
If you feel you were treated well on a college tour, if you found a new way of looking at the college because of your visit, if someone gave you some extra help or good advice, then a thank-you is in order and can be written with sincerity. Admissions professionals are not dumb; they know when they are being scammed and when a student is really appreciative. It is a true feeling and the true self the student should want to reveal, and the thank-you is only one vehicle to covey that.
And don’t forget, thanks-yous might be appreciated by others who have helped you apply to the right college: teachers, recommendation writers (see How to Ask for a Recommendation), guidance counselors.
Genuine thank-yous can leave many open doors to knock on when you need help in the future.