- Wendy Levey founded a premiere NYC preschool and now consults parents on getting their kids into top programs.
- Levey strongly recommends sending a thank you note after touring or interviewing.
- She advised using a formal tone, focusing on the school’s mission, and making your names clear.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Levey, who founded a premiere preschool on the Upper East Side in New York that she directed for 45 years and now consults parents on how to get their kids into top programs, told Insider that one of the best ways parents can make positive, memorable connections with admissions directors — besides nailing the interview — is through follow-up notes sent after attending key events at the school.
“Writing notes after each tour, interview, and visit is important,” Levey said.
She added that if the tour of the school and interview with the child are within two weeks of each other, one note suffices. If they’re spread out, which is more common, then you’ll want to send two letters.
Also, if you’re not planning to accept an offer at a program, you should still send a thank you note as a show of goodwill, Levey noted. She shared key pointers about style, substance, and etiquette for these essential letters, and a couple examples of letters she’s received as an admissions director that stood out.
This year, send your letter via email rather than snail mail
In normal times, Levey said thank you notes should be sent by mail on stationery. But because many admissions staffers are working remotely as of late, email better guarantees your letter will get into the right hands.
Parents can also consider sending their letter as a document attachment, which allows them to have their address information on it as a header. Alternatively, you can write a letter on stationery and scan it into your email.
“It does not need to be fancy engraved stationery, just something with your name and address so the school can track your notes easily,” Levey said. “When using stationery, it should be simple card stock with a border, no polka dots, no family crests or hoopty-doopty script lettering that is unreadable.”
Make your name and contact information clear
You should include your child’s date of birth as well as your contact information in the letter.
“You want to be sure that they put the letter with your application,” she said. “If they have to work at deciphering the name, it will just go in the trash.”
Try ending it with the following: “Susan and Jack Schmiddleheimer (parents of Lily Schmiddleheimer, DOB January 4, 2016).”
“That way, if they have several families with the same name or several children named Lily, they won’t get confused,” Levey said.
Use a formal tone
Thank you letters should always be formally addressed, Levey said.
“Dear, Mr., or Ms. — never ‘Hi Allison,'” she said. “They should be signed with Best, Best regards, or Truly yours — certainly not ‘love’ or ‘from.'”
Consider separate notes for each contact
Typically, these letters should be sent to the director of admissions, referencing within the note anyone else met along the way, from tour leaders to assistants.
“Or you can write separate notes,” Levey said. “Many people do that, but in large group settings — like a tour for 40 people or an open house for 100 people — it’s not necessary.”
Nail the small details — and don’t have your kid write it
Levey highlighted that parents should be sure to get the details right, such as spelling names correctly.
“And be sure not to get one school confused with another,” she said. “For example, one year one family wrote one school, but used the director’s name for another school.”
If applying to an all-girls school, it can help to have the father write the note, stressing how important he feels it is for his daughter to have a voice and become a leader, which is a hallmark of all-girls schools. But “do not have the ‘child’ write the note saying, ‘Mommy and Daddy think this is the perfect school for me,'” Levey added. “It is contrived and frankly ridiculous.”
Reference what you talked about and why it made a positive impact on how you view the school
In terms of the substance of your thank you notes, Levey said it’s a good move to showcase positive points you noticed about a school, as well as your knowledge of a particular school’s mission. Another savvy tactic is to leverage connections and commonalities that you have with the admissions director.
“When you feel you connected with the admissions person you interviewed with — for example, you both went to the same college, or you share a love of baseball, or you talked about a book, or musical theatre is both of your passions — use that in your thank you note directly after the interview,” Levey said.
The point is to jog the memory of the interviewer as to who your family was and be remembered favorably.
“If you knew a family who went to the school and the parents were very involved or the child went onto a wonderful school and you are so impressed with that child’s character, mention that, too,” Levey added.
You could also send a book or article link to something you talked about or think the admissions person would enjoy based on your conversation. Levey added that parents should keep copies of everything they write to avoid repeating themselves.
Levey shared that one past client of hers was a children’s book illustrator and decided to hand-draw the outside of her thank you card with a picture of her daughter in a garden. This kind of subtle creativity can pay off.
“It was just exquisite and the schools were very taken with her magical work,” Levey said.
Examples of successful thank you notes after a preschool interview or tour
It was a pleasure meeting you on Thursday. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us about [name of school]’s excellent program. We are excited by the school’s focus on community service and sharing and separation as the foundation for educational growth. We were particularly fond of your anecdote about the apple collage, in which students were encouraged to find the best materials for their project through trial and error. We appreciate that you gave them the opportunity to reach their own conclusion, and that you had such considered reasoning behind your choice to do so.
[Name of tour guide] gave an excellent tour of [name of school]’s facility. It was very helpful to learn about the school and the community. Her leading the tour also exemplifies the commitment of [name of school] parents and their excitement for the continued success of the school. We would be pleased to continue the strong parental support of the program through similar efforts.
Thank you again, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.
P.S. My husband “dated” the woman who gave us our tour, Terri, when he was in 3rd grade! Small world.
It was a pleasure meeting you the other week. [Name of child] is still industriously making cappuccino (she never forgets a compelling idea) and is now serving it with all pasta orders.
We really like [name of school]. It feels smart and open and infused with a kind of well-organized chaos. It feels a lot like New York.
[Name of child] would be happy to go to school here. No one minds taking the crosstown bus.
What to send if you’re rejecting a preschool offer
Although [name of child] will not be attending [name of school] in the fall, I wanted to write you a short note to let you know how impressed [name of parent] and I were with you. During this wonderful process of selecting a nursery school, we met a number of directors/heads of schools who were quite competent. No one struck us as you did with your poise, confidence, and being simply “together” — qualities which we’re certain are instilled in the children at [name of school].
Ultimately, we chose a school that had an elementary school, primarily because neither my husband nor I had any desire to undergo this process again (at least not for another 10 years) or have [name of child] do so. Perhaps as an educator (and as a parent) you may understand our difficulty with “the process” in Manhattan, one that may not necessarily result in parents having their children attend schools of their “choice.”
Wishing you and [name of school] continued success.