How to Thank Your College Recommenders

(Source: Adapted from ideas provided on the following website:

The best part about asking a teacher, coach or mentor to serve as your recommender is that you get to thank them afterwards. Knowing this makes asking for their help a bit easier – if you have a good plan in mind to express your thanks for their effort and kind words, you will feel less demanding and can present your best points confidently to your recommenders, knowing that they will remember you long afterwards for your exceptionally warm thank-you. While the college application process can seem to be all about you, the adults in your life are – to paraphrase Isaac Newton – the giants on whose shoulders you stand! Don’t allow yourselves to forget the sacrifices they must make in order to spend an hour of their precious free time to find the right words and tone to “market” you to your colleges. Don’t leave your recommender feeling this way:
“If there’s one thing missing from all the great SAT scores, the high GPA’s and the meticulously prepared applications, it’s manners”. (Actual quote from an instructor with whom I spoke recently.)

Not only should you remember to thank these important people. You can also consider paying it forward. I’d suggest a good rule of thumb would be to perform at least three ‘random acts of kindness’ to others in your daily life for each letter of recommendation you receive, selecting strangers and close associates alike for your generosity.

No act of kindness should go unacknowledged – thank your recommenders!

Here are some ideas of how to show your teachers and other recommenders how grateful you are for their time and help.
(Remember that these suggestions are for after the recommendations have been written and sent – you don’t want to do any of these things beforehand as this may seem as though you are trying to influence the quality or content of the recommendation!)

  1. A promptly written thank-you is essential!!   The best is writing a hand-written thank-you note expressing how they have helped you. No one ever gets hand-written letters anymore. This is perhaps the nicest thing you can do. No matter how you thank your teacher, be sure to also include a hand-written note.
  2. Even if you must send an email “Thank you” – don’t delay.
  3. Write a ‘letter of recommendation’ for your teacher and give it to him/her.
  4. A simple bunch of flowers would be a nice touch. Or a little plant for the desk.
  5. Maybe bring in a small plate of homemade holiday cookies when you thank them.

There are many ways to thank your recommenders. You can get creative! Remember, your teachers are rooting for you. They want you to do well. So don’t be afraid to ask them for help. And don’t forget your manners!

Remember to notify recommenders after you receive your college admission results and tell them about your decision.  Thank them AGAIN for their support in getting you where you want to be!

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