There are two ways to write a thank-you note. One is to get it over with, to say the basics, keep it short, and send a quick email (capitalization optional). Those notes sound like this.
Dear Mr. Gerard:
Thank you very much for writing my letters of recommendation for
college. I know that you were very busy at the time and I appreciated
your help. I hope you have a good summer, and thank you again for your assistance.
Sending a thank-you note like that means you’ve accomplished one thing–you’ve made sure nobody can accuse you of not sending a thank-you note.
Don’t get me wrong. Sending any kind of thank-you note is better than sending nothing at all. But if someone deserves to be thanked, don’t they deserve to be thanked well?
Put some effort into your thank-you note. Show the person that you recognize the fact they did a favor for you, that you sincerely appreciate the effort made on your behalf. Write it on stationary (not over email). Use capitals and punctuation (seriously, use capitals and punctuation).
There’s no formula for what to say; the key is to just be sincere and take the time to give a proper thanks.
It makes a difference.
Dear Mr. Gerard:
Now that the college admissions process is officially over, I wanted to thank you again for taking the time to write my letters of recommendation. I can only imagine how many letters you must have written for students this fall (I know that most of my friends planned on asking you to write their letters, too), but I really do appreciate the time and effort that you took for me.
I also wanted to tell you that I’ve decided on Hamilton College and I’m planning to major in history. I’m not sure I ever would have considered studying history in college if I hadn’t taken your class, but after I did that oral report on the Hamilton-Burr duel in front of the entire class without passing out, I’m sure I’m ready for whatever college history throws my way.
You’re a good teacher, Mr. Gerard, and I always looked forward to going to your class every day. My younger sister, Jenna, is a freshman this year, and I’ve told her to do whatever it takes to get into your class. She’s a much better public speaker than I am, by the way, so she won’t be prone to fainting when it’s time to do oral reports.
I’m so excited to go to college, and I’m sure I would not have had as many options as I did were it not for your help. Thank you again for everything you’ve done for me, and have a wonderful summer.
All my best,
Hamilton College, Class of 2014