There always comes a point in the school term where it becomes necessary to email your professor. Whether you missed class, are confused about an assignment, or need to reschedule your test, emailing your professor may seem like a simple task, but many students quickly find it intimidating and overwhelming. Below are some simple steps and tips to help you out!
Step 1: Find their email address- You should be able to find your professor’s email address on your syllabus. If you can’t find it there, look for a “contact me” or “about me” through your college’s online interface (like Blackboard). If you can’t find it there, on your college’s website, look for the department that your professor teaches in. You may be able to find their email under a faculty directory.
Tip! Make sure you are using your school email. That is how your professors and all college staff will contact you. Plus, it’s more professional than using a personal email address.
Step 2: Create a specific subject line- A lot of professionals get A TON of emails everyday. Make sure you have specific subject line other than just “hello” or “question,” otherwise they might just skim over it. Use something like “question about the reading for PSY 201 for class wednesday” or “Need to reschedule test 2 for BIO 101 ASAP.”
Step 3: Use “Doctor” or “Professor” in the greeting- Your professors went to school a long time to be able to teach. Using “Dr. Jones” or “Professor Smith” is a sign of respect for those years they worked to get to their title.
Tip! Don’t stumble over using “Dear” or “Greetings.” Just start with “Professor Jones,” and then go into your body of the email.
Step 4: Start by saying who you are and which class you are in- Some professors are teaching hundreds of students. Your first sentence should follow this format:
“My name is Bob Jones and I am in your History of Western Civilization class, Section 03.” (If you don’t know your class section, say the days and times you have the class)
Step 5: Be specific about the question you have- Don’t say “I’m confused about what were supposed do for this paper.” Be way more specific. Say, “I’m looking for some clarification on our paper over about Existentialism. Do you want us to use information outside of our textbooks and what we discussed in class? Also, is 3-5 pages including a title page and works cited page?”
Step 6: Sign off with your contact information- This is the easy part. Just sign off saying “Thanks” with your name and how to contact you, such as your phone number.
Step 7: Check your grammar- Another easy part. Spell check and give it a quick read-over.
Step 8: Press send!
Remember: Try not to become too “in your head” about emailing your professors. They are just people too. Sometimes they make typos. Maybe some of them stayed up late, and their directions for the homework was really unclear because they were tired. A professor’s job is to help you learn, so never be afraid to email them to ask for help if it’s going to help you learn.