One of my favorite professor is a very gentle, kindhearted, and extremely-well-teaching man who wrote a recommendation letter for me back in February 10th or so. Well he is super nice to all people and is extremely skillful teacher, making him a favorite teacher to all people, but when I asked for a recommendation letter for a scholarship I could tell that his letter was very good, just by judging from how thick the sealed envelope was - probabily at least three pages, if I am not mistaken. I told him thank you right after getting his sealed letter, but have not had the chance to say thank you to him after that.

The result for scholarship came in July 30th and I found out I wasn't selected. But given the factors like: (1) the professor has a liking on me and put pretty decent amount of time for my letter, (2) I will probably ask him for another letter for grad school, and (3) I didn't get the scholarship, and (4) the date I last talked to him (about the scholarshio, in particular) was about 5 months ago, should I write an email/note telling him that I thank him for the letter and let him know of the bad outcome?

If yes, what things/how should I write such a letter to him? A rough template and/or an example letter would be great - not trying to copy but to get a sense of things

Also do you think an email is fine? I'm like over 2000 miles from the campus so if I decide to go for an actual hand writtrn thank you card, I wouldn't be able to do that until the beginning of next school year, like September 22nd or something, although an actual thank you card shows more thankfulness than an email. So I guess my second question is: would a quick email or 2-month-later hand-written thank you card be better?

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    "Should I do [a nice thing] for someone who did [a nice thing]?" Signs point to yes.
    – Veskah
    Jul 6, 2018 at 23:50
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    Your last paragraph seems to imply that you think the only possibilities are email and in person. I can think of other possibilities, such as telephone and postal mail. I don't know whether it would be appropriate to telephone him, as this seems to vary with culture and the ages of those involved. But surely a short personal handwritten letter sent by postal mail would be better than sending an email, or am I missing something? Jul 7, 2018 at 7:48
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    @DaveLRenfro, a handwritten note is definitely to be preferred if possible. Some people want to do this in a purchased thank you card, but a letter is fine. Send it to the university address if none other is available.
    – Buffy
    Jul 7, 2018 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


Absolutely. He probably feels bad that you weren't selected. Not as bad as you, of course, but he will want to know that you are ok in spite of a setback. Moreover he may be in a position to help you in future so you will want to make sure you keep lines of communication open.

Beyond that, however, a professor who thinks enough of you to write the letter in the first place, probably is the sort of person who wants to be kept in the loop as your career progresses. He will greatly appreciate your thanks, I assure you.

I once had a mentor in grad school. He was not my advisor, but I always used him as an example of a great professor, just as you describe your professor.

Many years after I graduated I had occasion to revisit the campus, where he was still teaching (Dept Chair, I think). I told him how much is model of a professor and his mentoring meant to me, not only at the time, but over the intervening years. He thanked me and also said that professors don't hear such thanks very often. That saddened but also surprised me. He died not long after that, so I've been happy that I was able to express that to him in time.

As for the words to use. Thanks is enough, but fill him in on your current plans and what has happened to you since you were last his student. Wish him well.

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