Using Email to Communicate with Professors

Sometimes your only mode of communication with professors is through email, especially if it’s an online course. So it’s important to know the best ways to communicate online. Use these tips to make sure your emails come across well, and your reputation stays in high regard. You don’t want your professor to think poorly of you when it comes time for giving grades.

Be Respectful

Your professor has a lot of education and experience and deserves to be treated with respect. Yes, professors can make mistakes, but you should always be respectful when communicating with them, even when they are in the wrong.

Here are some ways to be respectful to professors:

 – Be careful of tone: Body language plays a big part in communication, so make sure your email message is not going to be taken the wrong way since it doesn’t have body language to back it up. One tip is to avoid slang words in emails.

– Address your professor with his or her title: Unless you are on a first name basis with your professor, always include his or her title at the beginning of your emails. This is respectful and shows the professor that you value his or her title.

–  Don’t expect quick replies if you are emailing your professor at 2:00 in the morning: Your professor has a life outside of school, just like you. So, never send a follow-up email unless 24 hours have elapsed without a response.

Be Responsible

You are responsible for your own education, not your professor. Your professor is just the facilitator, so be responsible for your own learning.

Here are some ways to be responsible:

– See if you can find the answer to your question on your own before emailing your professor: Never ask a professor what you are going to talk about in the next class or other silly questions that can be answered by the syllabus. There are also tons of resources on the Internet to answer material questions.

– Don’t wait until the day before an assignment is due to ask questions: This is because your professor may not be able to get back to you on time, and your assignment won’t be as good as it should be when you procrastinate, anyway.

– Discuss grades through email: If you have a grade discrepancy, always discuss this through email instead of through online discussion boards. Your professor will have a quicker response through email and the rest of the class won’t have to know what is going on.

Be Professional

When you take online or in-person university courses, it’s more important than ever to be professional. This shows you take your education seriously.

Here are some ways to be professional:

– Proofread your emails: Never send an email before using spell checker and reading through it a couple of times to make sure it makes sense. Your professor may not give a thorough reply if he or she doesn’t think you took the time to think through your question(s).

– Be clear and concise: It really isn’t very nice to send a five page email to your professor. He or she doesn’t have a lot of time to read and respond to emails and probably won’t be in a very good mood after reading your lengthy email. Get to the point right away and eliminate any filler content.

– Don’t “Friend” your professor on Facebook or stalk them online: Your professor is not your friend, which means you don’t need to know about each other’s personal lives. Plus, some of your Facebook pictures might damage your reputation with your professor. For instance, you might have pictures of yourself drinking at a party or acting irresponsible in some way.

Communication plays a big role in your reputation, so make sure you use this advice when sending emails to your professors. It can save you from awkward moments and help you get better responses.

Natalie Bracco is a freelance writer and an amateur baker. When she’s not busy in the kitchen, you can find her writing about technology and education. She believes when you take online university courses it’s important to learn how to communicate effectively in email. Follow her @NatalieBracco.

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