Ahh, the end of senior year: time to sit back, relax, let ‘em hate and watch the (scholarship) money pile up. But please, while you’re lounging by the pool listening to the greatest rapper alive, take a minute or two to write a few thank you notes to the sponsors of your scholarships.
I know the applications sucked. They were tedious, boring, repetitive, time consuming, you name it; but these people are literally throwing money at you! They deserve some recognition! Whether it’s a specific person, a local organization, the school you’ll be attending, or a multinational corporation, they should all be receiving a personal letter of gratitude. Now for some pointers:
1. Avoid Being Generic
Although it may be tempting to hand them a note as mundane and superficial as their application forms were, it’s not worth it. Show these sponsors that their funding is going toward a good cause, that their money is being spent on a caring and creative individual. If you can find what you’re writing inside a cheap Hallmark card, then you’re doing it all wrong. Give them feeling! Passion! Remind them what it is you will be studying, which college you will be attending, and hint at some of your future goals and ambitions. Give them a reason to be excited for you!
2. Be Prompt with Your Delivery
If you were awarded a scholarship in June and wait until the week before you leave in August to acknowledge their philanthropic service, don’t even bother mailing it. An apology note might do a little more justice at that point (okay, that was harsh, but I’m being hyperbolic in order to prove a point). The Lions Club just gave you $1000! You don’t know what the Lions Club is but you’re getting money! A speedy yet thought out delivery of a thank you card will probably do more to show them your gratitude than the words inside it. Assure them that you truly are thankful and that this isn’t just a last ditch effort at being polite.
3. Get Like…a Chill Card
This one is just an extra step, and it might just be me; but those gaudy, gross, over-the-top dollar store cards were always kind of obnoxious. I used these really plain, simple note cards that were fitted with a decent quality photograph – simplicity is elegance (and it makes you look kind of artsy?).
4. Don’t Know Who to Address Them To?
Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to get a scholarship sponsored by an individual person. In these instances, it makes your job much easier because 1. You now have a living, breathing human being to address your letter to, and 2. It feels far less weird writing a personal note to them (even I admit that addressing “McDonald’s” in a sentimental way can seem pretty odd).
If you’re getting money from an organization or school, however, then you need to do a little research. Let’s go back to the McDonald’s example. First, you’re going to want to find the specific branch of this corporate monstrosity that deals with scholarships. Once that’s done, look for a director/head of the branch or program. Address your note to “So-and-so (the director), the scholarship committee, and the McDonald’s corporation,” or something of the sort. If you’re receiving a significant scholarship from your university of choice, then the process is much the same. Find out what branch is taking care of the scholarship – usually this is the Office of Financial Aid, but in my case it was the Honors Department – then look for the head of the department, and repeat the steps mentioned above.
5. Should Anyone Else Be Receiving Thank You Notes?
YES. A list of people/things to thank after all is said and done in your college application process: your guidance counselor, whoever wrote your letters of recommendation, anyone who helped you edit your college essay in a significant way, all of your college interviewers, the sponsor of a book award you received (usually junior year), and any school that offered you a big scholarship which you ended up turning down. You’d be surprised how far a simple thank you can go. My chemistry teacher was nearly moved to tears after reading my handwritten thank you (she had written me a rec), while the local sponsor of the book prize I received actually called my high school to get my contact information (she guided me, reassuringly, through my application process to her alma mater). Small acts of kindness truly have a great impact, as insignificant as they may seem.
Now stop reading this thing and get on those thank you notes! Oh, and I really do recommend throwing some Kanye West on while you bang these cards out – helps pass the time (just make sure it’s old school cause Yeezus is a huge disappointment of an album).