Becoming a college student is probably the first time in your life that you’ll be treated as an adult, and expected to act like one, too! This can be a strange development and it’s sometimes difficult to know how you’re expected to interact with your professors and advisors.
While some professors can seem very friendly and down to earth, maintaining the proper formal etiquette is important. Email is now one of the most popular ways for professors to interact with their students, so learning the right way to respond will help you establish the correct tone, and will carry you through into the world of work.
Use The Subject Line
Even if you’re not sure what to title your email, make sure you put something in the subject line. This will prevent the email from landing in your professor’s spam folder and never being read.
Use Your College Email
You have a university account for a reason, so use it! Not only will this help your professor by indicating who you are, it will allow you to compartmentalize your correspondences into formal college emails and informal chats with friends.
Open And Close
Make sure you address the professor directly at the start of your email, as in, “Dear Dr. Jones”, and close with a polite sign off like, “Thanks for your time”, and your name. You probably wouldn’t do this with your friends or parents, but it’s the necessary format for emails with professors.
Check It Over
Before you hit send, run a quick proofread of the email. You don’t have to spend hours agonizing over detail of grammar, but ensure that basic spelling and punctuation are covered. Your professor will appreciate the effort, and it won’t look like you rushed the email out on your phone (even if you have).
Keep It Brief
This is especially difficult if you’re trying to extend a deadline or explain a problem, but try not to ramble on too much. Professors tend to be busy people, so a brief and succinct messages will get your point across without wasting their time. If you need to explain things more fully or are dealing with a complicated problem, ask to arrange a meeting to speak in person.