WRITING THANK YOU NOTES TO YOUR RECOMMENDERS / ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL PORTFOLIO DEVELOPMENT
By Architecture School Review Staff
One of our students’ most frequently asked questions is whether they should write thank-you notes to their interviewers, and if yes, what would be the correct approach. Many of them are used to the handwritten approach, which to them shows a personal touch, and care. Others are pretty adamant about sending a blanket email, simply to get it done.
But why is sending a thank-you note so important for your application? The answer is that it is not! However, you have to reflect on what the point of the application is to begin with, the answer being that it is a process you must go through to get into a good architecture or design school and begin a (hopefully) thriving career in the field of architecture or design. Therefore, anything that you do during this process, must help advance your overall career, and certainly must not damage it under any circumstances. Not sending a well-written, thought out thank-you note to the people who took time out of their busy schedules to do the same for you, is a recipe for burning bridges with important connections in the field, who will be essential to you down the road. Therefore, even if you do not have time, find the time to write personalized letters.
So, which is the best way to write a good thank-you note for an architecture school recommender?
At Architecture School Review, we recommend that our students break their letters into three parts. This is the best way to do the least amount of writing, while easily personalizing the note.
The first part should be the same for all recommenders, and should be about you, not them. It should begin immediately with you thanking the recommender for the time and effort to write something of substance for your application to architecture schools, which is not the easiest thing to do. Take a few sentences to acknowledge the fact that they have been essential to your application, and that you are sure their input will help the admissions committees at the architecture and design schools you are applying to, make informed and correct decisions. Take a sentence or two to remind them of how significant this moment is for you and your architectural career, and how much difference it will make in your life if you manage to get into a great architecture program.
In the second paragraph, try to be more personal and more about them. Remind them of what you should have told them already prior to them recommending you, which is that you value their mentorship and friendship, and that they are extremely important to you as friends or mentors, or whatever you consider them to be, for many reasons, including the fact that you know you can count on them for a reference. Remind them of specific moments that you have spend together, and try to show them appreciation but also emotion.Limit your second paragraph to no more than 250 words. It is the most important one, so try to work on it carefully, but do not overdo it with too much content, because it may end up being tiring or sounding patronizing to some people.
Finally, in the third part of your note, Take three sentences to end the note, thank them for one last time, and explain to them that if they ever need you for anything, they should not hesitate to contact you.
Your overall language and style of the letter should be selected based on your relationship with this person. A note to a professor of yours whom you still call by his last name and do not feel very comfortable with, should sound very differently from a note to a colleague of yours who is the same age as you.
An Architecture school application can make or break your career in a big way based on whether or not you make it to good architecture schools. A thank-you note for your architecture school recommenders on the other hand, can affect your career in smaller ways, like losing the bridge with a person you may not consider to be that important to you. However, over the course of an entire career, bridge-burning may turn into a terrible habit of not expressing gratitude for other people’s time and effort, and I have found that the best thing to do is develop this positive habit of thank-you notes as early as possible. It will make an enormous difference.