According to a recent New York Times article, thank-you notes have become a new frontier in the admissions process. Stories abound lately of prospective students sending not just a standard ‘thank you’ message, but that of kitsch – M & Ms in school colors with a quirky message, eye-catching stationary, and even ones from applicants’ parents.
So is the use of a thank-you note – creative or not – going to give you an inside edge and land you an admissions offer from your target school? We asked a couple of our consultants their opinions on the matter.
Senior Consultant Anne Williamson says it should be a routine part of follow up from an interview. “I recommend it to my clients,” she says. “It shouldn’t be elaborate, should remind the addressee of something positive about the interview, and should arrive within a few days of the meeting” so that it’s there when the committee meets to discuss all the interviews of the prior group. “However,” she cautions, “it probably has quite a minimal effect.”
Doctor Wayne Shelton, another Senior Consultant, disagrees on that point. “It may be harmful if the note itself isn’t tactfully written. I do feel an appropriately crafted ‘thank you’ can be a nice touch to cap off a positive interview experience,” he says. “It can register a final positive impression. However, he also cautions, “if the applicant did not make a positive impression during the interview, a follow-up note will make no difference.”
Thank-you notes should be short and to the point, according to both consultants. It should “express genuine gratitude for the recent interview and interest in the possibility of attending the school in question,” says Wayne.
Anne agrees. “Short and sweet,” he comments. “Don’t waste the interviewer’s time.”
Remember, however, that any time an applicant reveals something about themselves “they are being evaluated in terms of their fitness to be medical students,” says Wayne. The best approach? “Express a genuine interest in the school and how its curriculum and areas of interest match your own interests and goals.”