by Annie Rose Stathes
Published June 7, 2013
A thank you letter is a great way to convey your appreciation for a person’s willingness to spend time helping you accomplish a personal or professional goal. It is a powerful way for you to follow up on a formal interview, or informal meeting. Your ability to compose a well thought out thank you note may help you impress your graduate admissions committee. An added bonus is thank you notes are a great way to remind the interviewer of you and your graduate school intentions.
1.Begin your thank you letter with greetings and salutations. Greet the person you would like to address by an appropriate title (Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., etc.) and their last name.
2.Thank him or her for meeting with you. Keep in mind most people working in academia are busy. Thank the person with whom you met for generously sharing their time.
3.Remind him or her of your conversation. It’s possible the person with whom you met has also met with dozens of other people. Remind them of the key points of your conversation. Help them remember who you are.
4.Tell them what you liked about the program. Explain why you want to attend that program; why does it stand out? What seems to make it unique? Why do you like it?
5.Explain why you would be a great fit for the program, what you intend to achieve in the program, and how you will contribute to the program. In short, describe the ways in which your presence and scholarship will help the school, department, and program meet their goals and mission. The point here is not to “kiss up” or prove your worth, but rather to make it clear the relationship between you and the program’s mission and staff will be mutually beneficial.
6.Once again, thank them for their time and interest.
The following is an sample of a thank you letter:
Dear Ms. Wright,
First and foremost, thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me. I very much enjoyed our conversation, and am even more convinced that the International Studies program at Imaginary University is perfect for me.
I deeply enjoyed our discussion about the international political economy and the ways in which local economies are positively and negatively impacted by international governmental agencies such as the United Nations, especially in Lesotho, Africa. I believe developing more meaningful ties between the UN and NGOs in Lesotho, Africa will help address issues of joblessness and starvation, especially amongst the elderly. I appreciated your insight and passion about the subject.
After learning more about IU’s International Relations program, I recognize its curriculum would be the perfect fit for my research interests. By specializing in “international political economy” and assisting Professor Smith with her research in the area, I feel I can truly make a difference for people affected by the crumbling economy in Lesotho. I also believe by utilizing IU’s academic staff, many of whom have conducted research in a similar area, I will be better able to design and implement a research project serving the interests of people in Lesotho, and IU’s Department of International Affairs. In short, I believe I can work in partnership with IU to implement a research project that is beneficial to all.
Thank you again for meeting with me and allowing me to make my intentions, both as an academic and steward of improved international relations, more clear. I do hope IU will give me the opportunity to participate in its dynamic International Relations program.
Title (if appropriate)
When writing your letter, remember to consider audience (the personality of the person with whom you met and the climate and atmosphere of the department and program to which you are applying), and write using an authentic tone (one that captures your personality but is still appropriate to the audience). Also, after writing your letter, conduct a full edit prior to popping the letter in the mail or hitting “send".
The following is a checklist to use when editing your thank you letter:
I’ve used the correct names (name of person with whom I met, program, college, etc.)
I’ve used correct grammar and spelling
My sentences are clear, concise, and make sense
My letter is orderly, short and concise, and easy and enjoyable to read
I’ve used a professional and academic tone and style (which means not using contractions, slang, or too casual of a tone, for example)
In general, ensure the presentation of your thank you letter, whether via post or email, is clean, sharp, and professional (make sure your stationary is professional; and your email address is not “email@example.com”)
About the Author: Annie Rose Stathes holds a B.A. in International Affairs and an M.A. in Political Science, from the University of Colorado, Denver. She is currently an instructor of writing at Fort Lewis College in Durango Colorado.