I’d like to thank the Academy

While I was in college, I’d receive the same voice mail every November like clockwork. “Hi, Linda! This is Betsy from Development! We’d like you to come by and write a thank-you note to the donors who made your scholarship possible! OK, thanks!” (Yes, some people can only be punctuated with exclamation points.) So, every November like clockwork, I’d find myself walking across campus and up three flights of stairs to scribble the same four sentences of gratitude for my Presidential Scholarship or Ivan Allen Endowed Scholarship or whatever the Financial Aid Office decided to name my scholarship that year. To me, a thank-you note was a small price to pay for a college education–smaller than tuition.

But thank-you notes are not a new invention. For generations kids have been writing thank-you notes to grandparents, aunts, uncles, second cousins twice removed and neighbors for birthday, holiday and graduation presents. However, students are now using these well-honed skills to send thank-you notes to college admissions counselors, tour guides and alumni. In her New York Times article “Thank-You Note Enters College Admissions Game” from October of this year, Karen W. Arenson explores this rising trend. Students are taking gratitude to a whole new level. Who needs personalized stationary when you can send personalized candy?

While thanking someone for their time or advice is polite, the general consensus seems to be that elaborate thank-you notes will not give you the edge over some less gracious applicants. Patrick Winter, Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Georgia, agrees. “The notes are not included with a student’s file, nor would they be utilized in any way in the admissions decision. UGA does not measure the student’s “desire” to attend as a factor in the decision process.”

Though heartfelt thanks and tasteful stationary might not tip the scale in your favor, this exercise in politeness would be good practice for the future. The business world is just as competitive as the academic; sending a thank-you note after an interview is a great way to keep your name in the running. Besides, it’s just good manners. I believe Emily Post would agree. Wouldn’t you?

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