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Subsection 10.1.5 To Send or not to Send

A large portion of the communication that you have with professors will be over email, which means that knowing how to write emails to professors is useful as a skill in itself and is transferable to talking with professors in-person. This section addresses emailing professors, but you can learn more about email etiquette in general by reading Section 11.1.

List 10.1.6. Strategies for Sending Professors Effective Emails
  • Don't be too casual until you know that it's okay to be casual.

    “Not being casual” means using a professor's name rather than starting with “Hey” and generally trying to spell words correctly and use full sentences.

  • Be clear and brief.

    Nobody wants to read long, confusing emails (or anything else that's long and confusing).

  • Don't ask the professor to do more work in responding than you've already done to send the email.

  • Use your University of Puget Sound email address.

Problem 10.1.7. What's Wrong with this Email?

Can you figure find all the reasons you would not want to send this email to a professor?

Hey, Sorry I missed the exam review yesterday. It's been a super busy week and I had to finish a paper for another class. I'm worried about the test tomorrow because you gave me a bad grade on the last one, and I want to know what I can do to do better this time. Did you post any notes from the review session on Moodle? Can we meet tomorrow before the test to go over the material?

Professors have different preferences and policies on what they consider respectful or acceptable communication, and often, it's easy to be familiar or informal with University of Puget Sound professors because they are approachable, kind, and often genuinely interested in knowing and talking with their students. Depending on the professor, being addressed informally or having a student ask them for an exception to a rule might not bother them at all; however, they're also professionals, which means that even if they are annoyed, they might not tell you. Nevertheless, if a student does something that they perceive as disrespectful many times, intentionally or otherwise, they may start to associate the student with negative interactions, which isn't good for anyone!