If Ariana Grande has the time to write a song thanking all her exes, then you can definitely fit a few thank you notes into your schedule, boo. No one makes it into college alone. There were teachers along the way who inspired you, coaches who wrote raving letters of recommendation, and counselors who helped you navigate the whole dang thing.
But if you’re not used to handwriting thank you’s (emails and texts don’t really have the same effect) it can feel a little intimidating. That’s why we’ve got advice + a fill-in-the-blank style note for you to use.
Tip #1 – Be brief
Don’t pressure yourself to write a lengthy letter. You’re more likely to put off (or never write) that kind of thank you and no one is expecting that from you anyways. You want to express your gratitude in a genuine way, without taking up too much of the recipient’s time. Quickly get to the point of why you’re writing, offer your thanks, wrap it up, and then deliver it.
Tip #2 – Be mindful
A thank you note is always well-received, but there’s a big difference between a generic note and one that becomes the highlight of the recipient’s day. While still keeping it brief, you should still be specific about how this person helped you and what that means to you. Express those two things in the letter and they’ll feel special instantly. Other things to be mindful of are proper grammar, spelling, and legible handwriting.
Struggle with words? Splurge on a cute card instead to make your thank you more memorable.
Tip #3 – Deliver it ASAP
It’s never too early to thank someone. Perfect example: your letter of recommendation. If you send a thank you note after your teacher has agreed to write it, but before she has actually drafted a copy, you’re proactively conveying gratitude. That will give her the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with being appreciated, and she’s more likely to take extra time writing your letter of recommendation now. (Yes!) Thanking someone promptly definitely has its perks.
Tip #4 – Don’t expect anything in return
Now that we’ve told you how thank you notes can spark reciprocity, it’s important to say that you shouldn’t expect anything in return for a thank you note. Even if you spend hours picking out the perfect gift to say thank you, that gift is still a thank you for what they initially did for you. Don’t expect a thank you in return or even acknowledgment. Just be satisfied with the fact that you’re sending gracious vibes into the world. We all need more of that.
Tip #5 – Casual can be cool too
Depending on the on the situation, your thank doesn’t have to be a handwritten note, but it should always be more thoughtful than a text. If you want to say thank you to your parents for proofreading your latest college essay draft, a simple post-it on their bathroom mirror may suffice. Want to thank a friend but feel weird about it? Grab her a coffee and have the barista write “thank you” where her name would normally go. Small displays of gratitude can be just as meaningful as a formal note.
Still feeling like you can’t find the words to express your gratitude? Use the fill-in-the-blank style thank you note below:
Thank you so much for ______________________ [writing my letter of recommendation / being the best water polo coach I’ve ever had / inspiring me to pursue medical school]. I really appreciate you taking the time to ____________________ [give prospective colleges a better idea of who I am as a student / focus on technique and make me a better athlete / be my mentor and answer my endless list of questions about organic chemistry]. You went out of your way to help me and it fills my heart to know that you care so much about me as your ______________ [student / athlete / mentee] and I just wanted you to know how grateful I am.