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Now that you’re in college, you might need to send your professors an email now and then. Figuring out what to say and how to say it can be a challenge. 

Properly communicating with your professors is crucial throughout your college years. Life is full of unexpected situations, and the best way to prevent them from affecting your academics is by communicating effectively with your professors. 

Whether you catch the flu, have a question, or need help with the assignment, let them know in the most effective way possible. Here’s what to say in your email for every possible scenario.

Missing class

You might miss class for medical reasons, personal problems, or even a job interview. From my past experience, professors like to receive at least 24 hours notice if you’re going to miss class. 

If you have a scheduled appointment, you should let your professors know ASAP. Be sure to include the reason why you’re missing class and ask if you make up the work. 

Missing an assignment 

You missed the 11:59pm deadline, and need to email your professor?

First, we suggest you start your email with an apology. It could be anything like, “I’m sorry for missing the deadline and creating an inconvenience.” 

Then, ask if they are okay with you submitting the assignment late. We have to warn you that some professors might not let you submit assignments after the deadline. If they do, they might deduct some points for tardiness.

Regardless of their decision, be sure to thank them for their time at the end of the email.

Asking for help

Sometimes when asking for help, we don’t give enough detail. The best way for your professors to help you is if your questions are specific and clear. 

If you think you need to include a lot of information to get your point across, we encourage it. The more information they have, the more assistance you’ll receive. 

Be clear and direct

The best way to get your questions or email addressed on time is by

providing as much information as possible to your professors. Be courteous and clearly state what you need. If possible, provide a direct reference. 

For example: If you’re asking about chemistry homework, be sure to provide the homework question number and any supporting details that might be necessary.

Essentially, the more direct the email, the faster your professor will be able to better assist you.

Don’t email your professors as if you’re texting your friends

When texting our friends, we tend to use a ton of slang and abbreviated terms. For emails, we encourage you to refrain from doing the same. 

To start, you should properly address them by Professor (Name). Your professors are professionals and should be treated as such. Additionally, your email should be formal, with no abbreviations or slang terms. 

Once it’s written, double-check all spelling and grammar to ensure there are no errors. 

Then be sure to thank them for their time at the end. 

Keep a positive tone 

Although your email should be formal, you can still carry yourself with a positive and

friendly tone. For example:

 

Hi Professor (Name),

I hope all is well! 

I have some questions regarding homework #13 and would like to confirm your office hours for this week. Do you have office hours availability on Monday, Wednesday and

Friday from 10:00am to 2:00pm? 

I look forward to meeting with you?

Thanks! 

Kind regards, 

(Your name)”

 

The example above is short but effective. There’s no rule about how long or short an email should be, but make sure your thoughts clear and concise. There’s no reason to over-explain if there’s a chance you’ll be able to address the issue in person.

You can use the above example as a reference the next time you need to write an email.

Customize your email signature

This tip is not a requirement, it’s more of a preference. Since emails are considered a formal method of communication, it’s only right we take it all the way.

Take a look below for an email signature idea:

Your full name

Your major | Your school’s name 

Your email: 

Your phone number:

We know emailing your professors can be a bit nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be. These guidelines should be helpful should you need to email your professor in the future.

Remember to keep a positive tone and try to provide direct and clear information in every email you send. These tips should come in handy when you’re emailing your future employers.

We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.