How to Email a Professor the Right Way

When we arrive to college, it’s a whole new world.  If you’re coming to college right out of high school, it’s a huge adjustment.  You will go through a lot of changes, and there are several things you will have to do that you’ve probably never done before.  Have you ever had to write an email to a teacher, leader, or employer? If not, you’ll have to get ready to handle that part of the collegiette lifestyle.  I’m here to give you a few easy steps on how to make that email to your professor look a little more professional (like you didn’t just type it while laying in bed wearing your monkey pajamas watching Netflix).  

 

  1. Have a greeting:  Whether it’s “Dear Dr. Salamander” or “Hi, John!” if you’re on a first name basis with them, it’s a habit to get into to always put something at the beginning of your email before jumping right into the message.  Leave a blank line between the greeting and the body of your email.  One of the weirdest parts about college is that you might have a professor that you can reference by their first name and go out to the local coffee shop with, while another professor might say that they insist going by “Professor Smith” no matter the context.  It will all depend on your specific situation, so use your best judgement.  For example, if you’ve never spoken to Dr. Roberto outside of class but you need to send them an email to ask about homework, it’s better to keep the email as formal as possible for that good first impression.

  2. Use details:  No matter what the subject matter of your email is, don’t leave any information out.  Always address anything and everything you need to talk them about in a clear, up-front manner.  If you feel that the body of your email is getting a little too lengthy, just separate in into two or three small paragraphs.  

  3. Always sign off: Never write an email without a closing signature.  If you have a gmail account, there’s an option in your settings to create an automatic signature that attaches to every email you send so that you don’t have to worry.  Even though I have this signature set up, I will still put my name at the end of an email if it’s a more casual conversation.  My signature has my full name, so in more casual emails, I’ll sign off with a simple “Anne” so that they know I’m giving them my full attention and regard to their email.  

Following these simple steps will ensure that your emails always look professional and well-mannered!

Until next time, HCXO!