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How to Email Professors in College

Email etiquette is always important in your life, but also key to making sure you land the right grade from a professor.

By
Richie Frieman,
August 17, 2015
Episode #352

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They say college is the best time of your life, and unless you got kicked out, the saying is most likely true. Well, unless reason you were “shown the door” was because you loved it a bit too much. Either way, even though college is a blast, you still have to work your tail off, and show your professors that you mean business. After all, a recommendation from a professor could lead to a future job.

With that, one way to remain on the good side of a college professor is to use proper email etiquette when corresponding with them. Be it the way you present yourself, your tone, or your timing, properly understanding how to email your professors is essential. So, before you press SEND (or REPLY ALL!) check out my top three quick and dirty tips on how to email college professors:

Tip #1: Remain Professional

When I was in college, I had some pretty wild professors. In fact, one art teacher was so “out there,” you would even find him at the bar shooting pool (which I did) then in a stuffy teachers lounge. However, even though he had a very laid back approach towards the “formalities” of higher education, at the end of the day, he was there to teach. Yes, he would bet you a beer on a game of darts, but if you didn’t show up with your assignment, on time, he wouldn’t be so friendly. I admired him for that and respected his professionalism. As well, it taught me one rule; professors are NOT your friend. Friend-ly, yes—but “besties”? Eh, not so much. With that, when you email your professor, it’s always proper to keep everything professional and remember that what you type is being reviewed intently.

Now, if you think I’m being harsh by saying that all professors can’t joke around with the students, you’re missing the point. You can be cordial, and not come off like an amateur. I mean, this is not the military and you’re in boot camp. But always remember, there is a thick divide between professional and friend. So when you email your professors, remember that they don’t want to know about your social life like your college friends. With that, don’t mention that you are “so beat” from the night before, that you had a hard time studying. Remember to spell check and speak properly since your email voice is still your voice. Also, do not use “teenage or college slang” like “Bro,” “Sup,” or “Peeps.” I know some of you may say, “Come on, we all know that!” but even if you are a super polished student, the frequency in email makes some people drop their manners over time. We’re all guilty of it; as interactions go on, you get more familiar, you get funnier, shorter in length and can sometimes slip up. But in this case, slipping up, could leave a lasting and improper impression.

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