How to Email your Professor Like a Boss
Sending an email sounds simple, but so many students make mistakes that leave their professors shaking their heads. Here are some ways to avoid the common blunders that plague student-professor email interactions.
- Use your university email account. Use their university email account. That second tip should go without saying; however, I have had students send emails to my personal Gmail account. It is creepy when that happens. Plus, we don’t always check our personal email regularly.
- Subject line: Include the course number and the section with short reference to what you need.
- Example: “GEO 2000-003 Question about fossilization and petrification.”
- Salutation: Use the correct title and last name.
- Do NOT use Hi, Hey, Wassup, or any slang. Do NOT use first names only or Miss, Mrs., Ms., or Mr. or any combination of these (i.e., do not attempt to use any of the following Miss Amy, Ms. Nguyen, Mr. Bill; if they do not have a Ph.D., you may use the appropriate title, but you will never go wrong with Prof.)
- Good example: “Dear Dr. Smith” or “Dear Prof. Smith.”
- The body of the email: Keep it as short and sweet as possible. Use capitalization, punctuation, and grammar correctly – or at least attempt to do this.
- Do NOT use emojis or textspeak even if you are sending it from your phone. Be sure to thank them (in advance).
- Good example: “I was reviewing for the upcoming exam for our next class meeting. I am confused about the difference between fossilization and petrification. Can you help me understand the difference? Thank you.”
- Closing: Any of the following are good options with academic emails: Thank you (if you didn’t use it in the body, you could use it as a closing), Sincerely, or Best regards
- Do NOT use Cheers, Best wishes, or informal sign-offs such as “See you soon!” or TYSM
- Good example: “Sincerely,”
- Sign off with the same name that you registered with at that school.
An Example of a Good Email
Subject: GEO 2000-003 Question about fossilization and petrification
Dear Dr. Kim,
I was reviewing for the upcoming exam for our next class meeting. I am confused about the difference between fossilization and petrification. Can you help me understand the difference? Thank you.
An Example of a Bad Email
Subject: Quick QUestion
How are U? What is the difference between fosilization and petriffacation?