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Emailing a professor for the first time can be intimidating. You don’t want to leave a negative impression on your instructor but know that a concise email is better than a long-winded one.
Maybe you have emailed a professor but don’t feel good about what you wrote. It’s never too late to start having more straightforward, more respectful communication with your instructors.
If you need to email your professor but have no idea where to start, don’t fear. We have your simple guide on how to email your professor in a way that’s sure to impress them.
You want to start your email on the right foot with a brief but respectful introduction.
If you have a professor with the last name “Smith,” you don’t want to begin your email with the phrase “Hey, Smith.” That would be way too casual.
On the other hand, you don’t need to start with “Your Honorable, Respectable, Scholar, Professor Smith.” That’s too much.
A suitable greeting starts with a professional salutation followed by the professor’s title and last name. For the above examples, a good introduction would be, “Dear Professor Smith.”
If your professor has an additional title, like “Doctor” or “Esquire,” put those words around their name as it appears on your syllabus or online directory.
Other proper salutations include “Hello,” or “Good Afternoon.”
It’s easy to assume your professor will know who you are by your email address, but that’s not always true.
Remember that if you go to a large college, your professor could have hundreds or thousands or students. You’re wasting your professor’s time if you make them search to figure out who you are.
Providing an identification after your greeting is an easy way to ensure your professor knows who you are right away, so they can better understand the context of the email and don’t have to search for you.
State who you are and what class you are in before you ask questions or address any concerns. If it’s pertinent, you can also state your year and major.
If your name is Steve Rogers, you can type something like, “My name is Steve Rogers, and I am in your 10 a.m. English 101 class.”
Your Purpose for Writing
Once you’ve greeted your professor and told them who you are, you can move on to why you’re writing.
While stating your purpose, be sure to use proper spelling and grammar. If you have a question, you can provide some context before asking to refamiliarize your professor with what happened in your class.
For example, if you have a question regarding an upcoming guest lecture, you could state the following. “I am writing regarding the guest lecturer you are hosting next week and am interested in attending the event. Would you please provide me with the time and location details?”
Make sure all the information you wish to provide is present in your purpose of writing. Once you’ve written everything down, review it and see if there are any words or sentences you can eliminate to make your statement more concise.
Once you’ve greeted your professor, introduced yourself and stated your purpose for emailing, all that’s left is the closing.
Similar to the greeting, you’ll want to provide appropriate closing words before you sign your name.
“See ya” is not a respectful way to sign off an email, but “Best regards, my might, most gracious professor,” is overkill.
“Sincerely,” “Best regards,” and “Thank you” are all appropriate ways to begin your sign-off. It’s also a good idea to provide your full name and student ID afterward to identify yourself once again.
Putting it All Together
Now that you know all the pieces you need to send your professor a great email, all you have to do is combine them.
If we use the above examples, the email will look like this:
Dear Professor Smith,
My name is Steve Rogers, and I am in your 10 a.m. English 101 class. I am writing regarding the guest lecturer you are hosting next week and am interested in attending the event. Would you please provide me with the time and location details?
Student ID: 00000001
Emailing Your Professor
Emailing your professor can be intimidating, especially for the first time. However, with respectful, concise writing and proper identification, you can email your professor confidently.