It's been two years since I graduated from college. Since then, I've secured a job at a company I trust and believe in, made new friends, and pursued a few creative passions that I always held myself back from out of fear of failure. And now it's time to thank a few people for helping me become successful.

I decided in November that I would send letters to past professors who I invested the most time in, but I didn't write the letters until five days before Christmas. It was important to me that I did it before the holiday because I wanted my words to be understood as a gift from a friend. I wanted my words to be alongside a holiday that emphasized remembrance and care for those around oneself.

When I started the task, It was important to me that I hand wrote my letters. I wish I could explain why. My handwriting isn't even good. It's never improved since third grade. But if I could somehow make it legible to someone other than myself, maybe it would mean something more. Maybe it would seem kind of retro too—sending a letter, you know?

Finally, I sat down, and I started. I won’t say everything that I wrote down or who I wrote to, but I will give some personal tips that I think others should try and do when they write their letters.

Write from the heart.

Sure, it might sound a little cheesy, but in the end it’s not hard to tell if someone is being genuine or not.


If you don’t care about writing a letter, why do it anyway? Save the money you’re going to use for stamps use it for something else instead. If you really care, though, then it should be easier to write not only what you want to say, but what you should say.

One thing that I felt was necessary for me to write to certain professors was that I truly valued their time and that I am forever grateful that they were never judgmental when they allowed me to share personal issues I was having back then. For me, this was and is a big deal, and I knew it was something I needed to share with them in my letter.

Be specific.

This isn’t absolutely, 100 percent necessary, but it will help them truly understand what’s going through your mind as you’re writing your letter. I mean, sure, they’ll remember who you are, but they will never know what really affected you in their classroom.

What I did for one professor was I talked about all the energy they exuded in the classroom. I brought up a certain book that was my favorite and how I intended to reread it just because it was so fun and fascinating. I also said that I missed learning the subject that they taught.

This was all true, and that’s what was important.

Talk about yourself, but don’t be braggy.

Don’t be afraid to humblebrag.


In the end, your professors care about you, and they’re happy to see you succeed, especially when it’s because of the skills that you learned in their classroom. Even so, I would suggest leaving out anything dealing with incomes; no one really cares about that.

When I talked about myself, I kept it to a couple sentences. What I really wanted to focus on was how I felt like I was succeeding because of them, and if that’s true for you, maybe you should share that too.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what time of the year you decide to write to your professors. From my experience, they’re always there ready to listen.

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About the Author

Michelle Goldchain '14

Michelle Goldchain is a media professional based in Washington, D.C. She works as Editor of Curbed DC where she writes about real estate and development in the D.C. area. She is also a Freelance Photographer for On Tap Magazine. Her writings and photography have been published in seven Curbed sites, Street Sense, On Tap Magazine, Whurk Magazine, Quill Magazine, Tagg Magazine, Luri & Wilma, Prince William Living Magazine, The Farmville Herald, and Longwood University's newspaper, The Rotunda. She has also been a guest on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show.

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