The Art of The Thank You Note

By now you’ve probably heard back from some of your REU’s. Once you formally accept your REU offer you are likely to start looking at flights or maybe get to work on the journal articles that you’ve been assigned.  But before you do those things be sure to let your recommenders know that you’ve been accepted to the summer research program.

Although you might think getting an REU is the finish line it’s not the finish line at all.  In fact, its just one of the hurdles that you’ll encounter that will get you to the finish line.  Since you’ll probably be applying for REU’s for next year (or maybe even graduate school) you’ll want to be sure to keep your support system in the loop. Be sure to let your recommenders know that their letter made a difference. So how do you do this?

I remember several years ago a colleague saw a photo of a student with her research poster on the website of a well-known undergraduate research conference.  Not only did the student not thank him for writing the letter but he had no clue that she had even gotten into the program.  Although it might seem minor taking the time to give gratitude to those who have helped you out along the way can pay huge dividends. 


Send individual emails to all of your recommenders.  In your email specifically thank them for taking the time to provide letters of recommendation and let them know where you’ll be going this summer and what you’ll be doing.

A Better Way

Write handwritten thank you cards and mail them individually to all of your recommenders.  Although it might seem old-fashioned receiving a hand written card is a nice touch. 

Here’s an example:

Dear (Name of Recommender),

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to write me a letter of recommendation for my REU program.  I’m excited to let you know that I have been accepted to the (name of REU program) this summer. I will be at (name of school/site) working on (research area) under (name of PI).  I appreciate your support and guidance.


Your First and Last Name

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