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Welcome to midterm season – the part of the semester filled with a huge workload, overwhelm, stress, and anxiety! I know there’s no changing a midterm (which I’m about to go do… yikes), but assignments are a different story! 

It can be so intimidating talking to or even just emailing a professor, especially if you’re in your first year. Trust me on this though, whether it seems like it or not, they WANT you to succeed! They understand that college workloads can be hectic and are generally very understanding if you ask for extensions, as long as you aren’t doing it every time. With that being said, you still have to be respectful and professional when asking.

Firstly, put the class code and assignment name in the subject line so they automatically know what the email is referring to. Start the email by addressing them politely (e.g. “Hello Dr. Smith,”) and then begin a new paragraph.  

Start the email by saying something human to them – even though they may not seem like it, they’re humans too! Greetings such as, “I hope you had a wonderful weekend,” or “I’m really enjoying this part of the class,” or “xyz is so interesting to me because,” and any other form of small talk is good as long as you keep it short.

Next, get right to the point of the email. Professors are very busy and receive a lot of emails, so you want it to be brief: “I’m really overwhelmed with my workload right now; I have three things due in the same week and if it’s possible I would really appreciate an extension until __. Clearly state how long of an extension you need and when you are able to submit the assignment. However, remember to just be honest about why you are asking for an extension!

Finish the email by a conclusion along the lines of, “thank you for your time,” and “have a good day,” followed by your name and student number. You want to ensure that both the start and end of the email reflects positively on you as a student. 

Be respectful to your professors and they will be respectful back to you! School can be overwhelming especially when midterms and assignments start to pile up. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help. After all, you’re paying to be there, and everyone is rooting for you to succeed.

Virginia Howard

McMaster '24

Virginia is a first-year social science student! You can find her at home studying or playing with her two little kids, or out travelling the world or dancing!
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