A guide for properly emailing university professors

Students complain professors never respond to emails professionally. However, they are your professor, and they really can answer however they choose.

professor email illustration
Samantha Ford/THE REVIEW
The Review is here with a guide to not sounding silly in emails to professors.

Managing Mosaic Editor

A new college semester has started, and so have all the questions students may have about correct etiquette when it comes to emailing a professor.

First-year students, this is new to you, but there are also still some upper-division students who struggle with the concept of professionality when it comes to a school setting. Many students complain the professors never respond with the same amount of professionalism. However, they are your professor, and they really can answer however they choose.

To help with these questions, we’ve created an essential guide, with a list of do’s and dont’s for addressing your professors.

– Address the email properly. “Dear Professor _____” is a good way to do it, but it’s also okay to scrap the “dear” altogether.
– Write something kind at the beginning, like how you’re enjoying their class so far, or are looking forward to one of the assignments they have listed on the syllabus.
– Keep it short and to the point. These are busy people, and they probably don’t have all the time in the world to read an email about how confused you are with every aspect of the syllabus. Mention the main problems, quickly and briefly, and keep it at that.
– Come with solutions, such as meeting for office hours. Bring your ideas and throw them out there.
– Have a straightforward subject line. Sometimes it helps to add which section of the course you’re in, especially if the professor teaches more than one course and/or section.
– Sign off your email with your full name. You can add an automatic signature to all of your emails. We recommend that you input your name, major(s) and minor(s), important organizations you belong to on campus and any current internships you’re holding.

– Write to your professors while under the influence of any alcohol, drugs, prescription painkillers or anything else along those lines. You will regret it in the morning when you go back and read all the mistakes you made, including those slang terms or textspeak.
– Write just one sentence. “Won’t be in class, see ya,” doesn’t show any care or respect for the professor’s work, and it also looks like you are throwing your money down the drain.
– Talk to your professor like a friend. No matter how friendly you are, or how much you guys enjoy the same subject area, they are at a higher level than you.
– Email after 8 p.m.—almost nobody is checking their email at midnight, and if you send one too late, it looks like you were procrastinating and that you don’t care about the class.
– Have an “@udel.edu” email address that is something like “butterflycakes.” This is your professional email, one that you are going to be using to contact people for the next four years of your life. Employers, professors and countless other opportunities are going to judge you significantly if your email is anything other other than a variation of your last name and initials.

These are just the basics, but they’re some of the most important things that people don’t think about when they’re writing an email. You want to create a good appearance of yourself, one without any worry about unprofessionalism coming back to haunt you.

Now get out there, and show your professors who’s professional!


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