By: Susanna Cerasuolo, M.Ed.
College application season is in full swing, and today I’d like to take a moment to remind all Seniors of the importance of saying “Thank You” to the people who are helping you get your applications together: your teachers and your counselor.
Why you should say thank you to these people:
1. You can’t get into college without their letters
You need recommendation letters from two teachers and one counselor to submit your college apps. The counselor letter is almost always required and the teacher letters are often required. You will want to thank your teachers and counselor for helping you with this necessary portion.
2. They are not paid to write these letters on your behalf
Students need to understand that teachers and counselors are not paid to write any of these letters. They do this out of the kindness of their hearts on Friday and Saturday nights, because they know you need their help. I wrote these letters for many years, and kids should be aware that it takes 1-2 hours to write each one.
How you should say thank you:
1. A handwritten note
Teachers and counselors love receiving a heartfelt thanks from you. Handwritten is always best. You can get a small card or even just use a piece of printer paper and decorate it. Include a note saying how much you appreciate their time and help and how much you loved being in their class and how you will always remember them, etc etc. (Teachers save these!)
2. A small gift
It is always a nice gesture to give your teachers something small to say thank you. This can be whatever your budget can afford. You can make a book-marker for them or some cookies or pumpkin bread (yum!). A popular gift is to give them a Barnes and Noble or Starbucks gift card since teachers like to read and they love coffee and tea. If you give a gift, try to go before or after school so the teacher doesn’t have to accept the gift from you in front of others, which can be awkward for shy teachers. If you give a gift card, then put it inside of your thank you note and you can give that to them anytime since it just looks like a card. 🙂
3. Go back and tell them where you were accepted
Please remember this step! So very few kids come back and tell us where our letters helped them go. We LOVE to celebrate with you, so please come back and share the great news. And then stay in touch!
When you should say thank you:
1. In October or November
A week or two after you ask the teachers and counselor to write your letters, you should go back with your thank you card. This serves two purposes: it lets them know you respect their time and it also reminds them to finish up the letter if they have not already done so.
Who else you could thank:
Whatever your parents are able or willing to do to help you in the admissions process, be sure to say thank you. Often parents have to pay for a lot of things like test scores and application fees, so be sure to say thank you since they are doing that on your behalf.
If you are lucky enough to have a mentor from the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, the College Success Foundation, or any other community-based organization, be sure to thank them for their help, support, and encouragement. Our mentors really inspire us to become all we can be, so be sure to say thanks.
Your coaches may have made a lot of phone calls or written a lot of emails on your behalf, so be sure to thank them for their time and energy. Coaches also provide very valuable guidance about which schools and teams might be best fits for you. Their input makes your process easier, so it’s nice to let them know you appreciate all they have done.
Saying thank you is a life skill that you will need to start practicing now. It will serve you well in all you do, and believe me, you will always be in need of people’s advice and assistance, so learning to be polite, respectful and professional is a very important career skill.