Throughout your college journey, it is essential you practice appropriate email etiquette when corresponding with your professors. Using these standard emailing practices not only give a good impression of you to your instructor, but these will help you hone these important skills for the job market down the road.
Use a Professional Email Address
While clever usernames are a fun option for your social media accounts, professional emails to professors or job contacts should always be sent from a reputable sounding email address. For now, your school email address is your best option. When you go on the job market, you can make an email based on your name (i.e. JohnSmith@gmail.com or JBSmith@gmail.com). These email formats are professional, memorable and straightforward.
Always start with a salutation
It is impolite to start an email without some kind of salutation or greeting phrase. Remember, email conversations are still conversations—they should always begin addressing whom the email is for. Try “Good morning, Dr. Jones”, “Dear Mrs. Smith,” or “Thanks for your email,” as some common examples.
Be sure to put what class and section number you are writing about
As a general rule of thumb, your professor has far more students than you have instructors. It is important to identify yourself clearly in your emails. Be sure to include your full name, which course you take with that professor, and the section number or meeting time. Including this information shows your professor you value their time!
Always use a clear subject line
Use the subject line to let your professor know what the email is about. Try to keep these short, specific, and clear. For instance, if you are emailing to ask a question about your Calculus syllabus, you might have a subject line of “CALC101-02 Syllabus Question.”
Sign off with a thank you
Be sure to thank your professor for their time. These little niceties go a long way to ingratiate yourself, so always try to be polite! Remember, when you send an email, your recipient doesn’t have the benefit of hearing your tone of voice. If you want to convey your gratitude, you cannot just rely on your gracious manner; you have to say “thank you!”
Before you hit send, give your email a twice-over! Typos and misspellings look sloppy and give the impression of carelessness. Avoid this faux pas by taking an extra minute to read over your email at least twice before sending it!
Make sure all your attachments work
If you are turning something in via email, don’t forget to double-check your attachments. You want to make sure to attach the appropriate document, that your attachment opens correctly, and that you have confirmed that what’s attached is the correct file and format.
Taking a few extra minutes to craft a thoughtful email can help set you apart from your peers. Just be sure to take your time, be considerate, include all necessary information/attachments, and to proofread. And of course, you must remember that anything you send out is forever. Choose your wording carefully and read things over before you send them out. That’s the best way to avoid confusion, conflict, or miscommunication.