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College Admissions: Thanks and Stay in Touch

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

 

Hooray graduating seniors! In just a few more weeks you will be tossing that graduation cap in the air and moving on to the next phase of life. If you are headed to college in the fall, you didn’t get there on your own. A lot of people helped, and now is the time to say thanks.

Who should you thank? Here are some suggestions:

  • All your high school teachers, with a special recognition to the ones that wrote you college recommendation letters 
  • Your high school counselor
  • Your athletic coach, choir director, robotics mentor—anyone who supported you in discovering your talents and interests throughout your high school years
  • Your school administrators, including the secretaries who sent out your transcripts
  • Your school support staff including the cafeteria workers and custodians
  • Your boss at work or supervisor at a place where you did volunteer work
  • Any tutors or test prep folks who helped you be academically successful
  • Any organization that gave you a scholarship
  • Your independent college counselor (if you used one)
  • The friends who supported you throughout this crazy year and through all of your high school ups and downs
  • Any adult mentor who has not been mentioned
  • Your parents

 

Emails and verbal thanks are normally okay, but for this big moment I actually want you buy a pack of printed thank-you cards and hand write notes to people. In case you don’t have much practice at this, here is some advice, and here are some phrases that are nice for teachers.

All of these people care about you. They were invested in your success and your heartfelt expression of gratitude will be deeply appreciated. Don’t be surprised if you visit years later and still see your card pinned on a teacher’s bulletin board.

Thank you notes are a short term assignment, and I am also going to suggest a long-term task. Make the effort to stay in touch with some of these people throughout your time in college (and perhaps beyond that.) For this purpose email is an excellent tool. Here’s the easiest way to update multiple people about your journey through college. Create a group contact list. Name it something easy to remember like “College Update List”.  At the end of each semester write a message that lets folks know what you have been up to. (Come back for next week’s column if you want to see a sample update from a student.)

In addition to being polite, staying in touch can have tangible benefits. One of my students included the local chapter of the Elks Club (which had given her a small scholarship) in her updates. Because the members were older and many did not have computers, she printed her update each semester and mailed it to the lodge, where it was promptly posted on the bulletin board by the entry. Last I heard, all eight of her updates were still posted (four years’ worth!) and donations to their scholarship fund increased during the years she was communicating. Another example is that when my daughter decided to apply for prestigious international fellowships for the years after her college graduation, she got a recommendation letter from a Spanish literature professor who had been her instructor while she was in high school and taking an enrichment class at Lewis & Clark College. He was able to write with confidence and provide specific examples of her achievement, because she had been regularly in touch with him during the intervening six years.

If you get in the habit of thanking people and being a good communicator, you will feel comfortable using this skill set in your career and throughout life.

Jodi Walder-Biesanz is the founder of Portland, Oregon-based College Admission Coach LLC which helps students identify and gain admission to right-fit schools where they will thrive academically and personally. Contact her at [email protected].

 

Related Slideshow: 30 Famous College Grads From Oregon

Who are some of the most famous people to graduate from Oregon schools? Here is a list of a few of the most interesting or surprising alumni you probably didn't know came from Oregon.

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Mike Richardson

Portland State University, Class of 1977

Founder of Dark Horse Comics, the third largest comic-book publisher in the U.S., and founder of Dark Horse Entertainment, which has produced over two dozen films and television projects.

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Signe Toly Anderson

Portland State University, 1960-1963

Lead female vocalist for the band Jefferson Airplane, jazz and folk singer, and member of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.

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Katie Harman

Portland State University, Class of 2002

Crowned Miss America the same year she graduated from PSU.

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Carolyn Davidson

Portland State University, Class of 1971

Creator of the Nike Swoosh. 

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Jordan Senn

Portland State University, Class of 2007

Two time Academic All-American for the PSU football team, who signed on as a free agent with the Indianapolis Colts, and also played for the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears.

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Barry Hansen

Reed College, Class of 1963

Nationally renowned radio show host Dr. Demento, with weekly show of "mad music and crazy comedy." 

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Barbara Ehrenreich

Reed College, Class of 1963

Award winning essayist, political activist and author of New York Times Best Seller, "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America." 

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Earl Blumenauer

Lewis and Clark College, Class of 1970 and 1976

U.S. Representative for Oregon’s 3rd district since 1996 and a leading proponent of livable communities.

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Matt Wuerker

Lewis and Clark College, Class of 1979

Winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for editorial cartooning, as well as a finalist for the award in 2009 and 2010, and one of the founding staff members of Politico.

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Heidi Hitkamp

Lewis and Clark College, Class of 1980

Hitkamp was the first woman ever elected to represent North Dakota in either the U.S. Senate or House. She has been a Senator since 2013.

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Matt Biondi

Lewis and Clark College, Class of 2000

Winner of 11 Olympic medals in swimming and one of the most decorated American Olympians of all time.

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Greg Behrendt

University of Oregon, Class of 1991

After starting out to study business, Behrendt went on to become a script consultant for Sex and the City, as well as a standup comedian and author.

Photo Credit: Facebook: Greg Behrendt 

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Walter Brattain

University of Oregon, Class of 1926

Inventor of the transistor, “the most important invention of the 20th Century,” and co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1956.

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Neil Everett

University of Oregon, Class of 1984

ESPN Sports Center anchor

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James Ivory

University of Oregon, Class of 1951

Director of several films, including Academy Award winners A Room with a View and Howard’s End, and founder of Merchant Ivory Productions.

Photo via IMDB.com

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Renee James

University of Oregon, Class of 1986

President of Intel, after a promotion to the two-person executive team in 2013 and ranked 37th on Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

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Linus Pauling

Oregon State University, Class of 1922

The only person ever to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, Pauling was the leader of his time in chemistry. One of his Nobel Prizes was for peace, after his efforts to end atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.  

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Mercedes Bates

AKA Betty Crocker

Oregon State University, Class of 1936

Head of Betty Crocker Kitchens at General Mills, and the first female corporate officer for the company, Bates also developed the Betty Crocker character, turning it into a national icon.

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Julie Bentz

Oregon State University, Class of 1986

The first female officer in the Oregon Army National Guard to reach the rank of general. Bentz is now a member of President Obama’s National Security Staff.  

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George Bruns

Oregon State University, Class of 1936

Music Director for Walt Disney Productions for over 25 years, wrote the “Ballad of Davy Crockett,” and music for “Tony the Tiger” and “Pillsbury Doughboy” ad campaigns. Burns directed the music for “Sleeping Beauty,” “Robin Hood,” and the Mickey Mouse Club TV show.

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Vance DeBar 'Pinto' Colvig

Oregon State University, Class of 1911

Mostly known as the voice for Disney’s cartoon “Goofy” for over 20 years, Colvig also voiced "Sleepy" and "Grumpy" in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Colvig also wrote the song "Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf," performed all the sound effects for Jack Benny’s 1930s radio show, and was Capital Record’s first Bozo the Clown in the 1940s.

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Timothy Leatherman

Oregon State University, Class of 1970

Inventor of the Leatherman multi-tool.

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Dick Fosbury

Oregon State University, Class of 1972

Revolutionized the high-jumping sport by jumping over the bar backward--coined the “Fosbury Flop.” He won a gold medal in the event at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968.

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Alan Hart

OHSU, Class of 1917

Born as Alberta Lucille Hart, Hart became one of the first female-to-male transexuals in the United States, after graduating from the School of Medicine. He also was a pioneer for using radiology to detect tuberculosis.  

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R. Bradley Sack

OHSU, Class of 1960

Internationally recognized for his work with oral rehydration therapy (ORT) which became the worldwide standard for treatment of dehydration and diarrhea.

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Oscar Frederick “Doc” Willing

OHSU

After receiving a degree in dentistry from OHSU, Willing went on to become one of the top American amateur golfers of the 20th Century, and is one of 15 indvudals undefeated in U.S. Foursomes and Singles Matches in the Walker cup.

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Harry Glickman

University of Oregon, Class of 1948

Founder and president emeritus of the Portland Trail Blazers. 

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Norma Paulus

Willamette University, Class of 1962

Former Oregon Secretary of State, Paulus was the first woman to hold a statewide elected office in Oregon.

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Patrick Carman

Willamette University, Class of 1988

New York Times best-selling author for his children's fantasy series The Land of Elyon, Atherton, and Elliot's Park. 

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Shelley Beattie

Southern Oregon University, 1988

Professional bodybuilder who won third place in Ms. International and Ms. Olympia, a member of the first all-female America’s Cup Team, and an actress on the TV show “American Gladiator.”  

 
 

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