E-Mail Netiquette – Before Sending that Note to Your Professor

Wednesday, Nov. 12th 2008 7:09 PM

With the convenience that e-mail offers, there may well be times when you want to send a note to your professor. However, your professor is not in your peer group nor is she in debt to your interests.

Three Don’ts

First, remember there is a formal relationship between you as the student and your professor. In jotting a note, address him or her with respect and use their proper title. Also use full words. Those cute little acronyms simply have no place in an interaction between student and professor. And those adolescent nicknames that form the basis of much of your high school correspondence do not gain you any credibility with your professors.

A definite no:

TO: Professor Barowski
FR: deltagammagirl@aol.com
RE: 2Day

FactoryJoeHey Dr. B,
I can’t remember like 3 of the 5 main points from today’s class. I was running late and forgot my notebook and had to take most of the notes on my ITouch. My BFF’s kept like texting me and stuff so I missed most of the lecture.
TTYL,
Lexi

Don’t ever email a professor asking for notes or handouts – if you are going to miss a class ask a classmate to pick up any relevant materials. And never email your professor to ask about, complain about, or even mention a specific grade on a test or paper.

Another no-no:

TO: Professor Barowski
FR: flipcuppin@msn.com
RE: Need the Notes

Doc,
I’m not going to be in class today. No worries, not sick just need a day off…you know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout ;). But i REALLY NEED the notes before Mondays test, i can’t get lower than 75% or you’ll be seeing me again next semecter.
Peace out,
Kyle

And, do not sign with first name or nickname, use your full name and note the specific class you are taking by adding the title and section after your name (Biology 101, Sect. 2). Watching your tone also means waiting for a response. Don’t expect your professor to respond immediately as he or she may not even have access to the necessary materials to respond. Twenty-four hours is to be expected and forty-eight hours is actually a reasonable turnaround time.

Don’t even consider:

TO: Professor Barowski
FR: futurepresident@comcast.net
RE: Haven’t Heard From You

Richard,
I thought the approach to the lecture yesterday was a bit off. I e-mailed you my thoughts right after class but I guess you must have been “busy” since I haven’t heard from you yet. Meet me 10 minutes before class so I can tell you my views.
Derek

Two Dos
tmbg47Before hitting the send button, read your email from beginning to end to look for missed words as well as spelling and grammatical mistakes. When you are satisfied that the note is error free, read your email once again from beginning to end for the tone it conveys – ask yourself if your email denotes an appropriate level of respect.

As part of that deference, remember to always thank your professor when you receive a response. The basic standard is simple, the less powerful person always must write back.

Second, in today’s internet era, email may well be the primary way your professor forms an opinion about you as a person and as a student. Those professors will be the ones that you will one day ask for a recommendation, whether it be for a scholarship, graduate school, or the world of work. Every interaction with them, including the world of email, contributes to the overall impression they have of you. So read that email a third time to be sure it conveys the impression you want to send.

Flickr photo courtesy of factoryjoe and tmbg47.


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