Let´s be honest, emailing professors is always an intimidating task. Writing an appropriate email to your college professor doesn’t precisely have to be a complicated thing; but to many students, it sounds like an arduous task. The right words naturally don’t come; there is the fear of sounding too informal or, on the other hand, overly formal; the sign-off appears forced… In case you often find yourself struggling whenever you have to email one of your university professors, don’t freak out anymore! In this article, you will find some useful pieces of advice that will help you write more efficiently and more appropriately to your professors.
If you’re going to email one of your professors, it is best to use your own university email account. Nowadays, most universities in the world provide their students with one of their own, so that communication between staff members and them becomes easier. Furthermore, the chances are that if you use your university email address instead of your personal one, your message will be noticed sooner. Because do you really think your professor would bother opening a message sent by firstname.lastname@example.org?
After typing the recipient professor’s email address, don’t forget to add the subject. This may sound really silly but, surprisingly, sending an email without a subject is quite a standard slip, especially since we students often have our minds elsewhere and want to get over with things quickly. Sending an email with no subject can create a slight to moderate negative impression on your professor, because they may think that you are a somewhat careless person who doesn’t proofread what you write and gets tasks done just for the sake of doing so.
Therefore, always check that you have added a few words that give your professor a clue about the content of the message. Keep it short. If you’re writing because you would like to ask your professor about a concept which you didn’t understand very well in class, you can type something such as “A little doubt concerning Descartes”; or in case you’re emailing professors to confirm a presentation date, you can simply write “Presentation” as the subject.
This part is often regarded as a tricky one. Should you use Mr./Mrs./Miss? Is it okay to address them by their first name, or should you appeal to the last name? Would that sound too informal or would it rather be too formal? The best idea is just to address them using the formula: Dear + Professor + their surname. Only use your professor’s first name if he or she correctly requested so during one of your lectures.
After addressing your professor, make sure you let them know who you are, especially if it is the first time you’re contacting them. Since college professors often teach various subjects to several different groups of students, indicating that you are (First name) (Last name) from the Contemporary French Culture class is already a great help for them.
It will become easier for them to associate the circumstances of your message. You may not need to repeat this step after you’ve first contacted him/her, for they will possibly have become acquainted with your face from class and your email address.
This is the most important part of your whole email message. Therefore, take some time to write it. Don’t do it quickly to get over with it: you may end up making orthographic mistakes or forgetting to ask something you intended to. Try to be concise and get directly to the point of your query, don’t go into excessive details.
In case you are writing to request something from them, make sure you do it in a tactful way that doesn’t make you sound arrogant or imperious. For instance, if you’re requesting them a tutorship because you’d like to review with them an exam mark, an excellent example of words to use could be: I am writing to ask if you would be available for a tutorship concerning the revision of the last exam we took. I would like to see which areas I have failed so that I can do better in the next one.
Keep in mind that you’re not messaging your friend, classmate or pen pal. Also, according to Netiquette (Internet etiquette code), using all caps to write to someone means that you are… well… yelling.
This small sentence never fails to make a good impression. Furthermore, by maintaining a courteous tone throughout your email message, you’re much more likely to receive the type of response you desire. And also, all the emails you write during your college years will help you be more prepared for the future when you need to regularly email possible employers, bosses and work colleagues.
After you’ve thanked your professor for his/her time, the best idea is to conclude your email with “Regards,” “Sincerely,” or “Best wishes,” followed by a coma and your full name below, for there can be several people with your same first name in your class.
Make sure you haven’t forgotten anything you wanted to mention, and that the sentences are coherent and with proper orthography. Remember that once you have pressed the “send” button, you can’t take your email message back to retouch it.