How to Write a Thank-You Card

The Art of Appreciation

The Art of Appreciation
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In Making the (Reference Letter) Ask we delved into the importance of making the “ask” for a reference letter and steps to ensure that it is as awesome as you!

This is a follow-up on what to do AFTER you have gotten the reference letter of your dreams.

The art of appreciation is something that is applicable to both college and life—one of my goals in my writing is to provide readers with insights that are meaningful now, specifically addressing important advice for college students, but also important as you move into life beyond the classroom.

This is one of those topics which his often overlooked.

During the course of our educational and life journey, we encounter a small group of people who go out of their way to inspire and encourage us.  They might be professors, student affairs professionals or even peers.

As you read this, there is likely someone who has come to your mind who has made a significant impression on you.

Did they challenge you to be better than you could have imagined?

Did they recognize your dedication and sacrifices?

Maybe they inspired you to achieve more than you would have otherwise?


Have you taken the opportunity to thank these individuals?

If not, I want to challenge you to spend a few minutes in the next week crafting a thank you letter.

I know that writing notes of appreciation might seem dated and even corny, but I can tell you there is nothing better than receiving such a message!

For those who have invested in you, no greater compliment can be paid than a token acknowledging your appreciation.

Higher education professionals, faculty and staff, are re-fueled and affirmed by these messages, knowing they were able to help you on your path.

If you can, you should consider handwriting this note and giving it to the individual directly.

Emails are wonderful, but they do tend to get lost in the shuffle.

They get the exact same space on an inbox as every other message.

Make yours standout and go the extra step to make it special!


There are no magic rules to writing a thank you note, although I will offer a few tips:


1.  Don’t rush it! 

If you can’t find the words to express you appreciation at this exact moment, set down the pen (or close the laptop) and start again later.


2.  Be specific

in what you are thanking the person for—think of the reference letter they provided and reflect on what it’ll mean as you move into your internship, graduate program or career.

Making the effort to personalize the message will mean so much more than saying “thank you for all that you do.”


3.  Start simply.

If you are stuck on how to start the letter, try this…

Dear _____, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for what you have done for me…”

No need to agonize over the appetizer, get right to the main course!


I genuinely believe every great mentoring relationship I have ever had has begun with an expression of gratitude.

Take this opportunity to expand your circle of (potential) mentors by sharing with someone how meaningful they are to you and your educational and life journey.

It doesn’t take long to do, but the return can be substantial.

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Casey J. Cornelius, Founder of ForCollegeForLife, is a writer and speaker who is passionate about student success. He has spent more than a decade as a faculty member, advisor, administrator and mentor. Feel free to connect on his Facebook page, ForCollegeForLife, or on Twitter @4college4life. His work can be found weekly on UndergradSuccess and he serves as an educational expert and content contributor to GenYize.

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