You finished your college interview and it couldn't have gone better. You give yourself a mental high-five as you take in the moment and realize you did your very best. You can now rest and wait for the results, right? No, not quite.
There is still one more task that needs to be done if you genuinely care about:
The interviewer(s) time and effort
Leaving a positive impression (show your respect for others, professionalism, value, integrity, sense of appreciation, and more)
Being selected for the opportunity you've just interviewed for
This simple and meaningful act could make a drastic difference between whether you're accepted to attend your dream school or not. With thousands of students applying for acceptance to colleges and universities across the country, standing out in the crowd requires putting in a little more work for a potentially larger payoff.
Why even send a letter?
Everyone's time is extremely important, and highlighting how you are grateful of the time a college admissions interviewer took to meet with you will go a long way. Also of equal importance is the fact that by sending a thank you note, you will create an opportunity to put your name in front of him or her one more time. This will typically prompt a reflexive, momentary recall of the interview session, your qualifications, and your suitability for the college community, to name just a few.
Electronic message, hard copy letter, or phone call?
There are a few ways you could express your appreciation:
Electronic message (email or text)
Physical, hard copy letter (Thank you card or letter)
Electronic messaging: If you prefer to send an email, consider using "(your last name) Interview: Thank you!" in the subject line. For example, "Jones Interview: Thank you!" By indicating your name and purpose, including the fact that it's to show your gratitude to him or her, the interviewer will more likely open and read it sooner rather than later. A key benefit to emailing your thank you message is the efficiency in which your message is received. You can send it immediately after you leave the premises or you can send it the next day or week. If you haven't had email communications with the interviewer in the past, though, choosing another method would be best to prevent it from potentially ending up in the spam or junk folder. As for text messaging, unless you have no other way of communicating with the interviewer, do your best to not use this option. The casual format, lack of subject line space, and option for the receiver to scroll through messages quickly, do not create an ideal atmosphere or experience for academic or business matters of this magnitude.
Physical, hard copy letter: If you wish to send a physical note such as a letter or a thank you card, be sure to use your very best penmanship so every word you write is clear and legible. If you type your message, remember to leave space for your signature. Your actual autograph in black or blue ink is sure to reflect utmost professionalism. Though hard copy thank you cards may seem old school for some, they do offer a heavy dose of your personal touch from being handwritten to being willing to pay for the card, envelope, and postage stamp. If you know that the selection decisions will be made quickly such as within the next day or two or as soon as they find the right candidate, this may not be the best option unless you drop it off in person. Another benefit to an actual letter or card is the fact that you'll be able to trigger more of the recipient's senses--instead of just seeing your letter on a computer monitor, she or he will be able to touch it. Especially if it's made of cardstock or high quality paper, triggering multiple senses can result in stronger memory. Plus, since it is rare nowadays, it's very possible your thank you note will be talked about and shown to others. Your name may travel, talk of your application and interview may occur, and ultimately, the impressions you make may be far-reaching.
Phone call: Lastly, you can pick up the phone and verbally thank the interviewer. If she or he is not available when you make the call, leave a voicemail or call back at another time. With busy schedules and many people attempting to multi-task while on the phone, consider a different option so you know you have his or her full attention when you're expressing your gratitude. If you find that choosing between these three options is difficult, rely on your research of the college and your memory of the admissions officer who interviewed you. If all or most of your prior communications with the recruiter was via email, then it'll be a safe decision to continue with that method. If phone calls were the primary mode of communicating, choose that option. For all situations, though, a hard copy thank you letter or card can get the job done efficiently and effectively; you'll just need to determine whether to deliver it in person or to send it by mail. Don't hesitate to go the extra mile to provide your personal touch.
What should be in the letter?
The obvious answer would be to thank them for their time, which you should, but it can also add a deeper layer of personal touch to point out something that you learned or experienced during the interview. Did the admissions officer clear up any concerns you may have had or point out details you would not have been privy to? Did she or he leave you inspired to attend their college and to do or be more than you are today? Keep your thank you message short and to the point, but don't be afraid to say that you've discovered something that you would have missed if it wasn't for him or her. Remember, like all people, college recruiters will appreciate when someone takes the time to notice the hard work they put into their jobs. Be careful not to just randomly pick anything to praise, though. Authenticity is the only thing that will work here. Sincerity will show that you truly valued their time and expect nothing in return.
Why are you a good candidate?
If at all possible, try to convey why you're excited and how their institution will meet your needs and goals. If, in a subtle way, you can express why it would be good for them to choose you over other applicants then all the better. Be careful here: you don't want to come off as arrogant, but excited that you may have the possibility of joining their college community.
When is the best time to send a thank you letter?
Immediately! Do not drag your feet on this. Right after your interview ends, take notes of the experience. The sooner you document what transpired, the better your recall of the experience, and the easier it'll be to write your message.
Check before you send
Throughout the entire process of applying for college admission, checking the quality of your written words should be top priority. The proofreading and editing of your thank you letter is no different. Be thorough and make sure everything is spelled correctly, especially the interviewer's name. Also, double-check that you used proper grammar and punctuation throughout.
Here is an example of a thank you letter. If you use it, be sure to add your own personal touch so your sincerity shines through.
------------- Dear Mr. Smith, Thank you for taking time out of your day to interview me for acceptance to (name of educational institution). I was pleasantly surprised to learn about (enter relevant details here) because (explain why). Throughout the application and interview process, I've realized that (name of educational institution) is definitely a school I want to be a member of and is a campus I'd like to call my home. I'm excited about the possibilities to not only grow personally and academically, but to contribute hand-in-hand with and to the college and local community. If there is any additional information you need to evaluate my candidacy for acceptance to (name of educational institution), please do not hesitate to let me know. I look forward to hearing from you! Sincerely, (signature in black or blue ink) Michael T. Crane (988) 688-7288 -----------------
When you should not send a letter
A letter of appreciation for the time, attention, and effort college admissions officers provided to you can go a long way. When writing, keep in mind that you truly want to thank them simply because they gave you an opportunity that wasn't necessarily required. Don't expect anything in return. If you are sincerely thankful, make the effort to express this in your letter. If you are just sending the letter in hopes of getting an edge over other applicants, you may want to forgo this step. We are often led to believe that nice people finish last. Whether this is true or not, remember that you are working with another person--not a computer or robot--throughout this process. Showing who you truly are and how appreciative you are of other people's time and effort will come through in your letter. In today's competitive world, being genuine is a rare commodity--a commodity that colleges are looking for.
After all is said and done, a letter of appreciation is a good way to end your participation in a college interview. Whether you decide to send an electronic message, write a physical thank you card, or make a phone call, expressing your gratitude in a timely manner is, and will always be, commendable. A side benefit to being gracious is the likelihood that you'll add to the impressions made during your application review and interview. By placing your name in front of the admissions team and interviewer one last time before decisions are made, you'll be able to help them remember their time and experience meeting with and learning about you. Choose to be authentic in your words--written and/or verbal--and don't ever hesitate to show your gratitude and interest in the opportunities that come before you.
A final word…
Writing a thank you note after a college interview can present a number of challenges if you've never written one. It can be even more difficult if you're applying to a school you've been dreaming about for years. There are a ton of resources available online to help with this, including services and support we provide. If you're facing writer's block or don't know where to start, simply contact us here and we'll get back to you!