Writing an Email to a Professor: 101

By September 23, 2016Writing about Writing

As a new student do you find yourself at a loss when it comes to writing an email to a professor? As most freshmen students find themselves interacting with college professors for the first time, they might be nervous when it comes time to send them emails. Communicating with professors and instructors through email might be a completely new experience for new college students, and that might be a little scary. Well, fear not! The UCWbL is here to help.

 

Craft an Appropriate Subject Line

The first thing you should focus on when sending a professional email is the subject line. The subject line is the place where you can communicate with your professor exactly what you are reaching out to them for. It is in this field that you set the tone for the rest of your email. If you write “Questions for WRD 103 Assignment,” your professor gets an idea right away what the email is going to be about. But if you send an email titled “Don’t Get It Dude,” your professor will not only be offended by the overly casual tone of the email, they will also have no idea what you are asking about. Having the subject field filled out just right sets you up for a successful email.

 

Greet your Professor

Another thing to keep in mind when writing an email to a professor is the introduction. Never just jump into the content of the email without formally acknowledging the person you are emailing. When in doubt of what to call your professor, always address them as Professor. Start your email off with “Hello Professor,” or even just “Professor.” This small acknowledgement sets the right tone moving forward.

 

Introduce Yourself

The next thing to do is introduce yourself and let the professor know which class you are in. Your email may not give away who you are upon first glace, and it is unfair to expect the professor to dig around trying to identify who each email is from. For example, if someone was to send an email from their personal email —cooldude98@gmail.com—and did not provide their actual name in the email, how is the recipient to know who “cooldude98” actually is? Also, professors tend to teach multiple classes, and sometimes even multiple sessions of the same class. Be sure to identify which class you are in to make sure your professors knows exactly who is reaching out to them.

 

Using these tips, the beginning of an email from “cooldude98” should look like this:

“Subject: Questions for WRD 103 Assignment

Hello Professor,

It’s John D. from your WRD 103-101 class. I have some questions about the reflection paper that is due on 9/28…..”

 

By following these steps in the beginning of an email, you set yourself up to have a great, professional correspondence. To review, be sure to have an appropriate subject line, acknowledge the recipient, introduce yourself, and provide the class information. Get in the habit of writing your emails this way, your professors will thank you for it.

 

Side note: If your email is “cooldude98” you should probably consider getting a more professional email, maybe an email with your actual name in it.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Emily Po. says:

    Thanks for this post, Kyla! I think this is really useful—especially for students who aren’t used to reaching out and communicating with professors in a formal way. I also think the way you talk about specific things to do when you write the email makes the doing it less intimidating. Your explanations make the process seem more intuitive than it might feel like at the beginning. Also, I think using the example to demonstrate all of the recommendations you’ve made is effective. One thing I would remind students to also do is sign off appropriately. You know, something like:

    Peace, Prof. ✌️
    -Em

    Sent from my iphone

    …Just kidding 😜