Likely, you’ll be emailing professors and teachers assistants many times throughout your post-secondary experience. When doing so, you’ll want to ensure the email is both professional and polite. This will make it more likely that you’ll get to know your professor or TA, and that they will answer your email politely with all the information you’re requesting.
The email subject should be reflective of what you’re going to be asking the professor for. For example, if you’re emailing to ask questions about your upcoming term paper, you could “Term Paper – GEOG 162.” This indicates to professors what you’re going to be discussing in the email and they can start thinking about their response.
The first impression is the most important. In the case of an email, that’s the greeting! Make sure you’re starting your email with a professional salutation such as “dear” or “hello.” This should be followed by either Professor or Dr. and then their last name. After writing their last name, make sure you add a comma or colon! This punctuation is important. Use a colon if you’re writing a formal email, and use a comma if the email is less formal. The level of formality is up to your discretion. Be aware that not all professors have Ph.D.’s, so you’re better off using the title of professor. Additionally, one perk of using Professor or Dr. is that you don’t assume the gender of your professor, which if you had could be a big mistake.
Before delving into the actual content of your email, start with a polite and unrelated comment. This could be something like “Hope your summer is going well!” or “Hope you had a great weekend!” Both of these comments demonstrate to your processor that you understand that they have a life outside of teaching. Additionally, it shows you value their time if you are choosing to email after a weekend instead of on a Saturday or Sunday. No one likes checking and replying to emails on the weekend, so start with “Hope you had a good weekend,” and send out that email on Monday!
Next up is to let your professor know who you are. Simply introducing yourself and telling them which one of their classes you’re in should be enough. If you’re following up with them about something you discussed in class you could mention this too. Overall, introducing yourself is very necessary so your professor remembers who you are in the future.
When getting into the actual reason for your email, make sure you present the information concisely and clearly. It’s in your best interest to write an email that makes sense to your professor, especially if the content is time-sensitive. Your content should be able to be summed up in about 3 sentences. If this isn’t the case, consider booking a meeting with your professor instead. In the three sentences try to avoid making excuses or demands, just clearly illustrate what you need in a succinct fashion.
Make sure you sign off with “sincerely,” or “best,” followed by your name and if you’d like your class number or student number!
That’s all! Emailing your professors can be made easy if you follow all of these tips and all general writing tips. Another idea for ensuring everything is all good with your emails, use spell check software such as Grammarly. Once you’re done, do a final check and send off your super professional email, hopefully, your professor will appreciate your email and prepare a thoughtful response!