Teaching any large course inevitably creates an influx of email. Sorting through those messages takes much longer when students don’t provide complete information. Consider sharing some of email these tips with your own students, inspired by Professor Michael Leddy’s guidelines you can find here.)
- Use your official University email address. This can make determining who you are significantly easier to the professor you are writing to, and makes it less likely that your message will be marked as spam. This guideline is particularly important if your personal email address is something slightly “less that professional” in connotation. (Past “legitimate” student email I have received came from such wonders as bootychaser@ and darkjedimonster@)
- Sign your messages with your full first and last name. This simply makes it easier to keep track of who you are. If the email is about something administrative, such as course enrollment, including your student ID number may also be helpful. Most faculty receive a lot of email and talk to a lot of students each day; not having full names just asks for confusion.
- It is always a good idea to check the resources you have available before asking a question; particularly on logistics and administrative issues (i.e. have you read the syllabus recently?)
- Include the course number in the subject line of the email and a provide brief summary of the question/issue you are writing about. (ie CS 391: question about the guidelines for assignment #5.)
- Avoid sending attachments unless asked to, as they can quickly fill up email inboxes. Either wait to be asked for a file or learn how to use UDrive to send links to files in a way that doesn’t clog people’s inbox.
- Try to keep your messages clear and concise. Again, faculty get a lot of email. The harder it is to figure out what question you’re really asking, the less likely you are to get a prompt response.
- Use appropriate tone, spelling, and grammar. Depending on the professor you need not be exceptionally formal, but sloppy grammar and spelling or a complete disregard for punctuation looks lazy and careless at a time when you want to put your best foot forward.