How To Write an Email To Professor
While professors across the world may stand divided in opinion, they unite on one common ground: finding emails from students annoying. No, this isn’t because you have caught them at the wrong time or are bothering them too much. Most educators are patient and want to help their pupils in every which way possible. So, what do you think in the email irks your professor? The answer is not following the conventions of email etiquette.
So, how do you write a fitting email to your professor?
Understand this: while you have to handle a few professors at a time, every professor in your school or college is dealing with at least a hundred students. So, they get thousands of emails every day. Among the pile, your email should hit all the right notes that compel the teacher to take notice and get back to you. If you want to make your email the one they don’t discuss in the faculty room, here are ten elements that you need to include in your emails from now on.
10 Elements to Write a Non-Annoying Email to Your Professor
Here are ten elements that you must pay heed to while constructing the email for a professor.
The very beginning of your email can throw your professor off if it doesn’t start on the right note. So, do not take the salutations lightly. This is where you get to establish the professional relationship that you have with your professor. While you can use “Dear,” that may sound too drab in the 21st century.
You can go with something less formal like a “Hello” or “Hi”. But please, DO NOT say hey. That can tick your professor off right there and you might as well bid adieu to the slim chances of getting a reply.
An honorific is a title that you use to convey your respect for a person’s position. You might not even know, but unintentionally you might just attack your professor’s Achilles’ heels with this one. Calling someone with a PhD just plain Sir can get you into your professor’s bad books. Again, not every professor has a doctorate.
Again, calling someone Mr or Miss or Mrs can be a mistake too if you are unsure about the marital status or gender representation of the person. So, the safestoption would be to address them as Professor.
3. The Name
On a scale of 1 to Dolores Umbridge, how annoying do you feel when someone pronounces or spells your name wrong? Your professors are human too, and therefore the same emotion applies to them as well. Getting your professor’s name wrong would signify that you have not been the least attentive.
So, look upyour syllabus book or the department website for the correct spelling of their names. Also, spell out their last name in whole, with the hyphens and everything.
4. Meaningless Nicety
Beyond the classroom, your professor is just a person very much like you. So, he or she expects and deserves the nice little things that all of us do. Students may feel that being nice would eat up your professor's time, but one line cannot hurt. Something like “I hope you’re having a good day,” or “I hope you had a great weekend,” willreflect the fact that you acknowledge your professor as someone leading a good life.
That said, do not cross the boundary of professionalism. What matters is how you put it. That means "great weekend" instead of using "chill scenes".
5. A reminder of how they know you
As mentioned earlier, your professor deals with so many students from so many grades. So, you cannot really expect them to remember your name or put together your face with your name. To help them recognize you, you can mention something distinctive that would remind them how they know you. This step will be mandatory if you are approaching the professor for the first time.
For example, you can include something like - “I had stayed after class to clarify notes for Hamlet that one time”. If you haven’t met them yet, explain what you look forward to, such as “I am interested in taking your class next semester.”
6. The real reason for your email
Once you have established how your professor knows you, get down to the center of the issue. Since the matter could not wait and you are emailing your professor, make sure it's a substantial reason enough. The key to hitting this nail right is by being concise and courteous at the same time. State what you need from the professor without going into excessive detail.
All the while, make sure that you do not sound like you are making demands. For issues that you cannot explain in a sentence or two, ask for an appointment to meet with the professor.
7. Crosscheck your queries
Other thane emailing etiquette, what annoys professors is the sea of emails seeking information that they have already communicated in the class. Understand one thing: Even if professors assert that you can reach out to them beyond class hours, you must not read too much into it. How would you feel if your professor called you after class hours and asked you about the status of your homework?
Therefore, before sending the email, check whether the question has been answered somewhere. You can even ask someone else from the class. But if you still have a doubt, then go ahead and contact the professor.
8. A polite restatement of your request
If you are asking a question in the email for which you need an answer, you need to be very polite while reminding your professor what the mail was about in the first place. You can say something like “I'd appreciate it if you could let me know as per your convenience.” If you want them to take any action, like write you a recommendation, sign a form or contact someone on your behalf, state that very clearly.
This way, your professor will put what they have to do on their to-do list and get it done without fail.
So many students feel that the salutation is the only thing to focus on since that is what the professor reads first. But like your assignments where conclusions matter, the sign-off is equally important. If you are not sure of what to write whenending an email, you can simply write “Thank you”.
You can say “All the best,” or “Sincerely”. But it is better not to experiment here after you have written the rest of the email perfectly. If you want an action from the professor’s end, you can write “thanking you in anticipation”.
10. The follow-up
You have to give your professor this one. He or she is all day busy taking classes, going through your papers, preparing notes for the next class, and the list goes on. So, it is completely normal for your professor to forget to respond to your email. If it is something VERY URGENT (like an approaching last date), a gentle follow-up will not be inappropriate.
You can write something like “Just following up on my previous email”. Now, coming to the time factor, you have to gauge when it is safe to send a follow-up reminder.
Now, after you have added each of these elements, the email to your professor should look something like this:
Hello Professor (Last-Name),
I hope you had a great weekend.
I’m in your World History classthat meets on every Wednesday. I wanted to know whether the altered syllabus includes the unit tests or not (or something more crucial). I have gone through the syllabus book as well as the website. I have also asked someone else from the class. Since I could not find the answer, I could not help but write to you. If you could let me know the answer, I would appreciate it greatly.
Thanking you in anticipation,
Your First and Last Name.Endnote,
Masteringtheart of drafting professional emails is a skill that you will benefit you in the long haul – while in school and as you step out of it. Now, professional emails go beyond just knowing which information goes where and the correct template. That said, writing courteous yet formal emails isn’t unachievable if you know the right tricks. So, make sure to tick each of these elements when writing to your professor the next time to avoid getting in the wrong lane with him or her.
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