The proper way to email your professor (or anyone on campus)

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Marissa Atilano
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As students begin college, a new chapter of adventures, discoveries, and experiences begins. They have the ability to develop relationships with many different people, including both peers and professors. In recent times, digital communication has become more important than ever before. Here are a few items to consider when establishing a professional and respectful line of communication with someone.

Utilize Accessible Resources

Anyone who has stepped foot on a college campus (or logged into a virtual class) has likely heard the phrase “check the syllabus”. It is important to refer to your accessible resources before emailing a professor directly. Often, the question can be answered by reading through a rubric, asking a friend, or reaching out to a teaching assistant. If this is the case, take advantage of these alternative methods before directly contacting your professor. Like many of us, professors have busy schedules and an overwhelming amount of emails to read. By using available resources, it saves both you and your professor valuable time.

Crafting an Email

If using available resources does not suffice, it may be necessary to contact professors directly. Professors expect professionalism in conversations and proper email etiquette from students. In all emails, it is important to include a proper greeting such as “Good morning”, “Dear Professor/ Dr.”, or even “Hello Professor/Dr.” to create a respectful relationship with the recipient. Be sure to use the proper title and the correct spellings of their name. Next, include your full name and a reference to how they know you. This can be the class session you are in, the organization they sponsor, or the conference where you met.

To begin the body of the email, clearly state your question or reason for contacting them. After this, explain the action you are looking for as a result of the email. Some examples include: asking for a response to your question, requesting an appointment, or expecting an adjustment on a class assignment. Finally, include an appropriate signature which contains an expression of gratitude, your name, title, and contact information. Always be sure to include a subject and verify the email address before sending.

Building a Relationship

Contacting professors can be nerve-wracking to a student. The dynamic and expectations greatly differ from those in high school, so it is important to remain respectful and professional when contacting anyone on campus. Writing an email can be a great way to engage with your professor outside of class. Building a relationship beyond the classroom can lead to great connections and opportunities, like research positions or internships.

In times where face to face conversation can be limited, digital communication is a great way to continue expanding your network.