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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 both useful as a skill in itself and transferrable to talking with professors in-person. Before we dive into some example emails, try considering KNOL[these tips] on email etiquette.

  • Don't be too casual until you know that it's okay to be casual. This 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).

  • As with making requests, don't ask the professor to do more work in responding than you've already done to send the email.

  • Use your Puget Sound email address

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?
Figure 10.1.5 Sorry I missed class
Our advice for this email
Figure 10.1.7 Sample Email

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 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!