How to Write an Effective Email as a College Student

In college and in the overall professional world, email is the number one way to communicate with others. Learning how to write a respectful and effective email can be one of the best things you can do for yourself as a college student. I’ve made a helpful list of some tips that I’ve learned over the past few years. Keep reading to learn how to sound like an adult over the internet!

Tip 1: Stay respectful!

Simple things like proper punctuation and grammar show a professor that you care about them and their class. It’s always a good idea to do a once over proofread before sending. It’s just a common courtesy to make your email more readable.

Also, unless you get to be buds with a professor, it’s probably not a good idea to address them with their first name. Especially in a first email, Professor ___ is the best way to go. The professor might tell you later that they don’t need to be addressed this way and that first names are totally fine, but it’s always good to err on the side of caution to show that you respect the professor’s position.

Tip 2: Make sure they know who you are!

On any given day, a professor usually has a LOT going on. Some deal with upwards of 100 students, so simply saying, “Hi I’m George” is probably not going to ring any bells. Stating what class you have with the professor and what time the class is, or even reminding them of a previous conversation you had with the professor can be very helpful for them remembering who exactly you are. When a professor knows who you are and knows that you care about their class, it can be very beneficial for you down the line when you need to talk about a grade or ask for a recommendation.

Extra pro tip: Set up a profile picture for your email so they can more easily attach your name to your face!

Tip 3: Be concise!

No one likes receiving long, convoluted emails that don’t make any sense. Try to keep the email as focused as possible, and if you have a weird question or some abstract idea it’s probably best to use this email to set up a meeting time to discuss the topic in person. Don’t forget most professors have office hours! Use them!! They are there for you!

Last tip: Be persistent!

Don’t be offended if a professor takes a while to reply to your email. It’s not personal. Professors likely just have a ton of things to do and a ton of emails to answer came in before yours. If the email is urgent, it might be a good idea to wait about a week and send another one, or just stop by after class and politely check if the professor got the email. Some of my emails have ended up in professors’ spam folders, so they might have just not gotten it in the first place.

In general, just remember to be respectful and mindful of professors’ full jobs. The same goes for sending an email to anybody, just remember that we’re all human and things can get misconstrued so it’s best to be as kind as possible. Thanks for reading!

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