How to write an email to a professor

How To Write An Email To a Professor

Many professors are increasingly getting annoyed because their students do not know how to write professional emails. Professors are concerned that their students don’t follow the email etiquette that can make their emails get the responses they desire. Are you among the students who do not know how to write an email to a professor? Writing an email to your professor can be tricky because you have to get it right the first time. First, ask yourself why you need to write an email to your professor, then come up with the best and most professional way to do it. In this article, we will show you how to write an email to a professor.

Writing An Email To Your Professor

Your professor isn’t your friend or a member of your family. He is someone whose relationship with you is and must always remain professional. That’s why you need to be careful about what goes into your email. Here are the factors you need to consider when writing an email to a professor.

Salutation

Salutation is the part of your email that shows you recognize your relationship to be professional. You can use the word “Dear” or “Hello.” You can also use the word “Hi”, but with caution; that salutation puts off some professors. 

Honorific

The honorific is where you poke right at your professor’s ego. Show him you recognize and honour his academic achievements and position in the university. Even if you don’t respect your professor, using an honorific is the best way to get a positive response from him. 

Addressing him as Professor X is better than just mentioning his name. If your instructor holds a PhD, address him as “Dr.” If you aren’t sure whether he holds a PhD, it’s safer to refer to him with the title “Professor.” Avoid words like “Miss” or “Mrs.” in your emails. 

Name

There’s nothing that annoys professors other than addressing them with wrong names or misspelling their names. After writing your email, confirm the name is correct before you hit that send button. 

Always use their last names and spell out the whole name. If there’s a hyphen anywhere in the name, make sure you put it correctly. 

How To Write An Email To a Professor: Some Niceties Would Do

Though your relationship with your professor is professional, there’s no harm in using expressions like “I hope you and your family are doing well” or “I hope your weekend was enjoyable and relaxing” in your emails. 

These niceties will show your professor that you understand he has a life outside the lecture halls. What you say here doesn’t matter, provided you write it in a way that shows some polite interest in his personal life. 

Remind Your Professor How He Knows You

It may be difficult for a professor to know all the students he interacts with. So if there’s an interaction you had with him that can help him put a face on your name, remind him of that. 

For example, you can remind him of your role in his class, the colour of your hair, where you normally sit in class, or anything that can jog his memory to remember you.

If you had never interacted before, explain how you desire to relate with them in the future. For example, you’d say that you want to join their class next semester or consider him to help with your research work. If you are 100% your professor knows you; you can skip this part. 

The Reason For Writing The Email

Once you’ve done with the above steps, you now have to come to the reason for your email. This is the key part of the email. It is advisable to make it brief and to the point. 

State clearly what you want/need from your professor without beating about the bush. One or two sentences should suffice unless it’s something that requires you to explain further. Whether you want a response via email or set up an appointment, let him know. 

Remember this. Don’t ask your professor about something you can research on your own and get answers. So before you ask your professor about anything, go online or to the library and find the answer to your question. You can also check the syllabus or the university/class website for answers to your question. Asking your professor about something you can get by researching will show him you aren’t a smart student, and your email will never get a response.

Signing-Off

Before you sign-off, remind your professor that you need some response from him. You can then sign-off using words like “Thank you”, “All the best”,, “Best”, or “Sincerely.” The word “Thanks” is important to show some level of gratitude for his effort to respond to your email.

Why Is This Important? 

Writing an email to a professor is a skill that can help you, not only in the university but also in the workplace. A thoughtfully constructed and courteous request is more likely to get a positive response. 

Remember, professors are human beings with varying moods and feelings, and you must treat them as such. Sometimes you might think a professor who’s annoyed by students’ emails is lazy or oversensitive, but the problem could be you. Most professors are paid for the time they spend in lecture halls, and any work they do after that is out of their goodwill. 

A professor may have over 100 students sometimes, and if even half of them email one professor, he can get overwhelmed. That’s why a kind, respectful and well-structured email will be more likely to get a good response.  For more tips about College, read more about “How To Be Successful In College”.

What Should An Email To Your Professor Look Like? 

Here’s a sample email that illustrates how to write an email to a professor.

Dear Professor Thompson,

I hope you had a good day in college today. I am a student in your Philosophy class, section number 507, that meets every Tuesday and Thursday. You once helped me with a question on (Write the topic) when we met in the library.

In my studies, I came across this problem (state the problem), which is a challenge to me. I have checked my notes, textbooks online and even asked my colleagues, but I have not found a good explanation.

I am requesting you to help me with an explanation of this problem, if possible before we sit for our next class text.

Thanks.

Your Name 

Conclusion

In writing an email to your professor, use the above steps as a checklist. Ensure you touch on each part. The sample shows how to write an email to a professor. From the sample, you can see, all the steps have been taken care of – from salutation to signing-off. 

If your professor takes long to respond, you can send a reminder and tell them how important the response is to you.