Professors check emails in the summer

So, email your professor and you will get a quick response

Photo from uniinnsbruck

Professors are some of the busiest people. They are required to give lectures, meet office hours, work with PhD students and colleagues, attend conferences and other public events, and conduct, publish and present research. Even if time is short, there are ways to communicate with them via email and get a timely response so you can get back to work with fewer setbacks.

Give the name a face

It is ideal to meet your professor in person before you send this first email. Introduce yourself in the first week of school. Let your professor know about your interests, questions, or something else unique. If you show that getting to know them is important enough to you, encourage them to respond to your requests in a timely manner. The better the impression you make, the better they'll remember you.

When it comes time to send that first email, if you have any questions about an assignment, your professor can match your face to your name. This helps them put your emails in context. If they have successfully communicated with you in the past, they are more likely to be willing to communicate again without hesitation. And maybe they'll already trust you to be a serious student.

Use a detailed subject line

The subject line is everything when it comes to getting a timely response to email. When people receive email from senders they don't know, they first look for clues in the subject line. They can delete emails that appear to be spam or just unimportant to them.

Now professors are required to respond to student email for administrative and class related matters. However, the subject line is still important in getting to your professor quickly. Put a subject line together so that your professor will open and read it right away, rather than submitting it for later reading. (The next goal is to design the email so that your professor responds immediately after reading it, but we'll cover this in a later section.)

So before you send your email, limit it to its specific purpose. Include this purpose in the subject line as directly as possible.

Specifically, instead of using "I want to register for your class", include the class name and how they can help you register:

The more specific you can be, the easier it is for your professor to do it. A very specific headline shows you at a glance what is expected of you.

Be polite and formal

Once you've used a good subject line, you need to make sure your opening doesn't prevent your professor from reading the full message. You don't want to say "Hey" and then move on with your message. This sets an unprofessional tone that can hamper effective communication. You want to err on the side of politeness.

Write your message as politely and respectfully as you can, even if it means allowing for some inaccuracies. For example, let's say you take a community college course over the summer to meet general requirements. Your lecturer isn't technically a professor, but didn't start teaching part-time until this year.

You still want to address her as a "professor" because it is formal, polite, and shows that you want to establish good communication. Err on the courtesy side until corrected - if your instructor insists that you refer to them as "Mr. Bob or Joey.

Here are a few other ways to keep your message courteous:

  • Always log out with your name - preferably first and last when there are many students in the class.
  • Conclude with a sentence or phrase that demonstrates your appreciation for reading your message. It can be a sentence before you sign your name, e.g. B. "I am pleased that you look at this Professor John." Or simply a "Thank you" followed by your name.
  • Stay on topic; Using tangents means you are not really keeping your time as they likely have hundreds of other emails to access.
  • Don't assume they'll do whatever you want to request. There are a few things that professors need to do for students such as: B. Permission to take a course if you meet the requirements. But still don't assume that they will do whatever you ask. You don't want to show disrespect or give them a reason to rethink how and if they want to help you. So ask politely and make as few assumptions as possible.

Use the correct names and terms

As previously described, use the correct labels in your specific subject line and politely refer to your professor. Make sure the labels, numbers, date and time are correct. If you are unsure of a meeting time, or inadvertently refer to the wrong test, your professor will have to spend extra time reviewing you and possibly re-emailing you. This is a potentially quick response to a conversation that spans multiple emails.

Stick to it

If you go down a tangent in an email or reveal more (personal) information than is necessary for the task at hand, you end up wasting your professor's valuable reading time - and your own time too. Sticking to this point is one of several ways to reduce the time it takes to send emails and the need to write additional emails for clarification.

Cross out unnecessary words and phrases such as "I was wondering if" or "Do you think you might ..." Instead, just ask the question. It may be intimidating to be so frank with your professor, but in practice it won't be that way for long. Because you learn to convince in a professional way, and that builds trust.

Here is an example of a message that takes longer to read and that is more distracting in its longer form:

As you can see, the condensed form conveys the message more effectively:

Keep it short

In short, it's similar to getting to the point. Ideally, you don't want more than three to four sentences in a paragraph. And you don't want to fill a message with too many paragraphs. Unless you share feedback or a personal story that will help your professor get to know you and better understand how they can help you.

Make a direct request

Even if you have a great subject line, you still need to track yourself in the message. You do this by submitting your request directly. It can be clearer if you phrase the request as a question. Or if you use the opener of "Please ... [request here]". Remember that if you email your professor to get their opinion on a subject, it is still a request as you are asking them to take the time to share what they know.

Make your request so clear that your professor will have no questions about what to ask of them. If you can complete this important step, you can help your professor take action immediately after reading your email. And not only will you get a quick response from them, but you'll also join this waiting class much sooner.

Follow up

Even if you apply the above successfully, following the principles of email notification to your professor, you will not receive a timely response. Your professor may not have received your email or may be unavailable for a period of time. Don't worry about the reasons, just politely contact us if you haven't heard from them within two days. Different sites have different guidelines or cultures (even if they are not written) for a timely response. They can therefore vary depending on the institution or context.

Apply the example principles listed above to your email below. If for whatever reason you still can't get through, another follow-up email may be appropriate after another three to four days (again depending on the situation). Or it is time to speak to your professor in person. If so, make sure you learn the best way to communicate using email.

Communicating effectively with your professor as needed greatly improves your chances of success in a particular class. Ensure timely, smooth, and productive communication so you can focus on your work.