How to Email Your Professors

College with EmmaGrace: Part 7

Happy Thursday! I hope you are all having an amazing week! I can’t believe Halloween is already this weekend. Fall has honestly flown by! I am so excited because I get to go home this weekend and see my family… and hopefully do some Halloween-themed activities;) I know people can’t really trick-or-treat this year, which is so sad to me! I am still going to dress up and get in the spirit!! I think it is so cool that my neighbor actually made a chute to send candy down if he gets any trick-or-treaters. I love the creativity and positivity he has in these hard times!

Anyways, today I wanted to share with you a few quick tips on how to email your teachers/professors.

5 steps to writing an email

1. Start with a solid subject line

When you are emailing a professor, or even anyone, you want to start with a subject line. That way when they see your email amongst 100s of other emails they know exactly what is it about and see that it is important. Also, make sure that the subject line is clear and concise. I actually have a professor who makes us write our subject lines in one specific way, starting with the class and class section, and then what the email is about. I don’t think you necessarily have to do this, but you do want to make sure they know exactly what you are talking about in a few words. Here are a few examples:

CorrectIncorrect
Test on 10/27Trying to understand why I got a C- on my test from 10/27
Upcoming education essayWondering how to start my education essay that is due next week
DNA replication questionWhy does DNA replicate only in the 5′ to 3′ direction

2. Address them and yourself

Start with a “Dear Professor (whatever their last name is)” line. If you know you can be a little less formal with them, you can say hi or hello professor. Start the next line with your name and what class you are coming from. With so many students, you can’t always expect your professor to know who you are.

3. Get to the point

You don’t have to “dilly-dally” much when you are emailing a professor. They don’t have a ton of time in their schedules (just like you) so get to the point right after you introduce yourself. Also, be concise with your question or comment. In the past, I have added too much extra “stuff” in my emails to professors, and they never ended up answering my question. Make sure your questions are very clear as well so they know exactly what you want/need.

4. Review for errors

Check through your email or even use Grammarly. You want to come off as professional to your professors, which means not having the wrong too vs. to. Even when you proofread, mistakes still happen sometimes and that is okay! Take my blog for example; I read through each post before making it public, but I still have errors!

5. Sign off

Finish your email on the right foot! Here are a few examples:

  • Best (more formal)
  • Respectfully (more formal)
  • Sincerely (more formal)
  • Regards (more formal)
  • Have a great day
  • Thanks so much
  • Have a great weekend

Things to remember

How well do they know you?

  • Do you need to start off every email introducing yourself or do you think they know you well enough? This really depends on the size of the university you go to and how much your professors care to get to know you. Chances are if you go to a large university with 500 kids to a class, they will not recognize you by the name on your email address. If this is you, it’s extra important that you start by addressing yourself. If you go to a smaller college, or if you talk to your professor a lot, you may be able to skip that step.

What kind of professor are they?

  • I have one professor who actually wrote a sample email for us at the beginning of the year. If you do not follow that exact formal, he will not respond. I have another professor who signs her email “hugs.” These are two totally different extremes and you really just have to know what your teacher is expecting. For some, you may be able to get away with a simple email with no subject line, and for others you may have to be completely formal. Either way, make sure you stay respectful and let them know you appreciate their time.

What time of day/what day of the week is it?

  • I would recommend staying away form emailing your professor really late at night, or especially on Sundays. If you do email them at these times, do not expect them to respond right away. I think anytime before 8PM is respectful, but if they don’t respond until the morning you have to understand that. Furthermore, try to start all your assignments ahead of time so can avoid emailing them at the last minute. Trying to ask a professor late Monday night about an assignment due Tuesday morning is not a good idea. They will likely not respond until well after the assignment is due. In my experience, most professors routinely check their emails throughout the day during the week. If you email them in the morning, you will LIKELY get a response by that night. Just remember that this is not always the case so you must be patient.

Did you look for the information yourself first?

  • There have been many times where I emailed the professor and figured out my exact question ten minutes later. This is a waste of their time AND yours. Make sure you look at the syllabus or any other resources you have before sending an email. If you have a question about when something is due, it is most likely in the syllabus. If you can’t figure out why you got a question wrong, try to look at your notes first. Finally, if you really can’t seem to figure it out, THEN email them.

SAMPLE EMAIL

Subject: ADHD lesson

Dear Professor Henderson,

My name is Jillian Belk from EDU 130. I had a question about the lesson on ADHD from Thursday; how does the hyperactivity-impulsivity type differ form the inattentive type? Does the student only show signs of one of the two types or can they show both?

Thank you,

Jillian Belk

I hope this helps relieve some stress about having to email your professor. Have an amazing rest of your week, and feel free to reach out in the comments if you have any other questions or tips!

As always,

with love,

EmmaGrace

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