Writing an email to a professor is a very common way to get information about a class, a grade or an assignment. Posting to networking sites and class portals is also becoming routine. It’s so common that it is easy to forget you are writing to a teacher and not a peer. Here are some things you should keep in mind when communicating with a professor electronically.
No yo! Teachers need a little respect. Even the most casual professor would prefer a complete sentence when you are contacting them. Structure an email to a professor more like you would a paper than a text message. Writing in formal English also makes you more direct and clear about what it is you are trying to ask.
Check your tone! It’s really easy to sound short and demanding when you are asking for something. As corny as it sounds to say, it is always a good idea to temper a request for anything with a please and thank you.
Turnaround time. Your professors are professionals and busy professionals at that! When you contact them outside of class you are entering into a relation with their professional space. So beyond common courtesy and tone you should be patient. A response may take a few days, even to a time sensitive question. It may be unreasonable to expect a response to a question before the next class!
Netspeak is a foreign language. Even simple emoticons may not be in a professor’s lexicon. Remember that these shorthand structures are context specific and without the experience of online gaming and rapid-fire interchange, many of these shorthand gestures are unintelligible 🙂