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Thank you letter Question


mohanji

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Hi guys,

I am applying for Psychology PhD for Fall 2016. I recently went to several campus visits. I know that I am supposed to write thank you letters to professors that I have interviewed with. I sent them handwritten letters (which I personally think is better than emails). Should I tell them via email that I have written such letters so they might expect the letters show up in their mailbox (and in case USPS lost my letters)? Thanks guys.

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Okay, here's the way I did it:

1. find a good thank you letter template

2. make a basic letter

3. using basic letter, create multiple personalized letters

4. convert file from .docx to .pdf

5. Compose a short email to each recipient, with the .pdf letter attached to the email. (I did it this roundabout way on the advice of multiple grad students in that program. I wouldn't have thought to do it this way otherwise.)
Below is a watered down example of the contents of the email, not the actual letter.

"Good afternoon, Dr. ___,
I've attached a letter of appreciation for being able to participate in Interview Weekend and to better express my gratitude for the opportunity to interview with you. Interview Weekend was an experience that I value highly, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you again for the opportunity and experience.
(insert email signature)"

What I'm trying to say is that, yes, I think an email could be appropriate. Keep it short and sweet-- it's just informative. This way, they'll know very quickly that you're an awesome and thoughtful person before they even get the letters. I don't know when your AdCom is meeting, but if there's any chance they'd get the letters AFTER meeting, the email would have already arrived. 

 

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I would say to either send an email or a handwritten note, but not both. In my opinion, there's no point emailing to say that a snail mail letter is coming (because, why not just say the thank you right there?).

My advice for handwritten thank you notes is to actually bring the note cards and envelopes with you to the visit/interview. At the end of visit, write the notes to the people you want to get them and then mail them while you're still in the University's city before you leave. Or, you could even leave them directly in the faculty members' mailboxes on your last day. That way, they will likely receive them within 1-2 days and you will not have to worry about forgetting to do them when you get home (especially if you are traveling to another school before coming home). 

I would personally advise against the PDF attachment thank you note. Few things are more annoying, to me, than to have to open an attachment just to read a message (especially if that message could have been in the email body itself). Just write the brief thank you note in the email body so that the busy reader can just see it, feel a brief moment of appreciation that you took time to thank them, and then move on with the rest of their inbox.

Of course, you should do what's normal in your field. It sounds like the PDF attachment thing might be normal in Psychology as other students advised @bugabooo to do it this way. It would not be a good idea to do this in my field, mostly because we don't have interviews for grad school positions. But we do interview for post-PhD jobs and the norm is either a nice email or a handwritten card, not a PDF attachment.

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26 minutes ago, TakeruK said:

I would personally advise against the PDF attachment thank you note. Few things are more annoying, to me, than to have to open an attachment just to read a message (especially if that message could have been in the email body itself). Just write the brief thank you note in the email body so that the busy reader can just see it, feel a brief moment of appreciation that you took time to thank them, and then move on with the rest of their inbox.

Of course, you should do what's normal in your field. It sounds like the PDF attachment thing might be normal in Psychology as other students advised @bugabooo to do it this way. It would not be a good idea to do this in my field, mostly because we don't have interviews for grad school positions. But we do interview for post-PhD jobs and the norm is either a nice email or a handwritten card, not a PDF attachment.

Honestly, I thought the same thing about the PDF. I still find it super weird, but after a handful of current students separately all told me the same thing, I did it their way. I guess it protects against formatting issues, and a .pdf can be opened on nearly any device, but it's a lot of steps to go through for one simple act. I got really positive responses from each one I sent (a total of five), so I guess it was the right thing to do. Really involved and I think too complicated, but it seems to have gone over quite well. Personally, I think a nicely composed email would/should have been fine. A handwritten note is probably nicer as long as you have good handwriting!

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@bugabooo Thank you for your advice. I decided to write actual letters instead of emails because I am certain there will be a few weeks until the AdCom make a decision. The letters will arrive before they meet. The PDF attachment is kind of weird, but I guess current graduate students know better. 

@TakeruKI thought it would be weird too if I send emails just telling them that I wrote a letter. I am simply afraid that the letters will be lost by USPS. I lost a few letters and packages in the past five years. 

And thanks for you input, @rising_star.

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