Via Dr. B’s blog, I found this post on Orange Crate Art: “How to e-mail a professor.” SOLID solid advice; in the near future, I’m either going to point out this entry to my students or I’m going to write up my own version of this advice (referencing Michael Leddy’s post, of course) and pass this out.
I for one like to communicate with my students via email (though I have colleagues who either would rather not have their students email or who even go so far as to say that their students cannot email them), but I do think it can be a problem. I get a lot of email– at least 100 messages a day– of various levels of importance. I get a lot of spam and junk of course, and while my “junk filter” works relatively well (I’m using the Mail software that comes standard on the Mac nowadays), I also get a lot of junk and spam in my inbox, all mixed in with some mailing list mail, important school mail, student mail, advertisements, mail from friends, etc. And the “student mail,” too often with a subject line like “hey,” can disappear into the mix in the inbox, or, far worse, be determined by my software to be “junk.”
Anyway, the advice offered by Leddy is pretty darn good, the sort of “common sense” that sometimes needs to be directly taught in order to be realized.
4 thoughts on “"How to email a professor"”
Sometimes it helps to use different email addresses for different purposes. At least that way you know what to expect when you go into each.
With my developing writers, I care more that they email at all, so I don’t make much of the address names–except to point out that if their email name is different from their real name, like say, “2hot4U” belonging to Fred Student, that they need to sign their messages with their real name.
* Actually, I have three or four or so different email accounts, but I still get so much mail (and much of it is junk) that it can be tricky keeping track of it all. Especially the mail from students because I get a lot of email from students….
* And while I don’t teach much at the developmental level, I think I would actually give my students in those classes some very specific instructions, too. I think it might be a useful “teaching moment” in terms of audience and how you have to tailor your message to the reader you’re trying to reach. Something to think about.
Oh, I have thought about it, but there is so much going on at the start of the semester in terms of getting them used to college life, that I just ignore it. If they were freshmen, I’d probably grab that “teaching moment,” and use it, but I’ve always assumed that requiring a new email account might put them (or me) over the edge. On the other hand, the more tech-savvy students become, the easier it might be for them to create new email accounts. Hmmm.