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Before You Send an Email to Your Professor

I haven’t taken a Netiquette 101 course recently, so I think it’s time to give some tips about sending emails to your instructors.

1. Always assume that you should be more formal.

2. Address the person in the email with a hello or even a “dear.” Avoid, “hey. And, use your full name, as your instructor might have many students who share your first name.


Dear Instructor: I am emailing to find out information about your Fall class. Do you suggest any prerequisites for the class? I’d also like to talk with you about a paper topic that I have. Do you have any time to meet this Summer?

Thank you,

Student X


Hey, I’m going to enroll in you class. Should I be worried about your feminist bias?


3. Never send an email that is incoherent. This is email and not a text to your best-friend. Type out all words, use punctuation, and proper spelling.

4. Never send an email when you are mad. This goes for all emails. Send yourself the email and then wait a few hours or overnight, and then send the email that you won’t later regret.

5. Be honest. Understand that your instructor might say that this conversation needs to take place face to face. Some conversations really need that human interaction.

6. Do not be offended if the instructor corrects your use of their first name or some policy. Most of us will be kind and say–we have a 24 hour policy with emails after work is handed back and it’s in the syllabus or I expect students to call me Prof. Schmitdkins.

7. Read the syllabus before sending the email. Perhaps the syll answers your question or notes that you should take the time to write a coherent email noting who you are and why you are emailing.

Overall, treat email with the same integrity that you would treat an office hour visit. And, yes, I do get lots of emails that start off with “hey” and have been asked about my feminist bias…

10 thoughts on “Before You Send an Email to Your Professor

  1. Great post. I remember you and I had conversations about this. In all of my syllabi, I *always* emphasize to my students: “It’s Dr. Pacheco-Vega” or “Professor Pacheco-Vega”. Never “hey” and definitely, NEVER “Hey Raul”.

    • Thank you! Yes, I had my feel of a week’s worth of winners and then recalled some great ones last term. Yes, I have information in the syllabus, but that doesn’t stop them. Then, add the students who aren’t in my classes, but seeking advising help…

  2. Respectfully, i think you are setting the bar too low. I tell students that they need to use their communication with faculty to reinforce their profile as a student. They need to write well, appear/be interested in the material, be respectful of faculty time, ask questions that demonstrate they are keeping up with the course, and otherwise make a positive impression. #oneadvisor’sopinion

    • Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure if you share the same role that I do. I’m faculty, too, and I have to bear this in mind when I’m instructing and mentoring. The bar is set low for good reasons. This is where so many of the students are. Many don’t think or care about making a good impression.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate the feedback.

  3. Pingback: Email Etiquette « roarsandramblings

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