Stylish Academic’s Guide to Contacting Professors

Stylish Academic's 4 Step Guide to Contacting Professors.png

Hello, World.

I’m completely unconvinced that October begins Sunday. For starters, it’s still 80 degrees, sometimes 90, on most days. I have yet to be able to wear a sweatshirt comfortably. Though my fall candles are working wonders for convincing me it’s fall, the weather and mother nature has different ideas. However, we are well into the school year, so I guess fall is here? Regardless, I thought now would be a good time to offer my top four tips for contacting professors. When I started college, I believed that I should go to office hours, connect with my professors, and get to know them. Professors are great people (most of the time), and they enjoy when students try to meet with them and show an interest in the course. However, some professors are difficult to locate. They have office hours, but each time you arrive at their office during the specified hours, they are nowhere to be found. How do you combat this issue? I’m so glad you asked. Talking to them after class is usually a starting point. However, shooting them an email is usually a good way to start if they’re also one of the professors who peace out right when class ends. If you have a professor who is really bad at email — this happens more than you think — try a carrier pigeon or handwritten letter… Just kidding. If that is the case, tracking them down right after class is usually most effective. If they leave quickly, catch up with them, and talk until they reach whatever their destination is.

If you have a professor who is really bad at email — this happens more than you think — try a carrier pigeon or handwritten letter… Just kidding. If that is the case, tracking them down right after class is usually most effective. If they leave quickly, catch up with them, and talk until they reach whatever their destination is. In this situation, cut the small talk and lead with the purpose for talking to them (i.e., “I’m thinking about writing about the intersection of passivity and the tension between freedom and confinement in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but I’m having trouble reconciling…”). This way, they can answer the question quickly because you aren’t asking just as they have to say goodbye.

Now, let’s turn to email. Email is the most common way to contact professors. Whether you’re communicating solely over email or you’re attempting to schedule an in-person meeting, there are 4 tried and true steps to make sure the professor is available, for setting up a meeting and fostering a relationship with them. Cultivating strong relationships with professors is important because they will be your letters of recommendation for continuing education or for jobs upon graduation. Additionally, if you’re as lucky as I was, your professors are also awesome people who share a common love (i.e., your major/passion/hobby). So, how do you contact them?

Step One: Say hello, introduce yourself if necessary (if you’re in a really large class and your professor doesn’t know you and won’t recognize your name).

Step Two: Explain why you’re contacting them. Would you like to set up a meeting? Would you like him or her to offer feedback on your paper topic? Would you like them to review a draft (if they’ve offered this)?

Step Three: Reiterate that you enjoy the class and are hoping to learn more. 

Step four: Close with a suggestion of when you would like to meet or when you would need the answer to your questions. So, if your paper is due Friday and you email them Monday, say, “I hope to receive your feedback by Wednesday evening so I have time to incorporate your suggestions into my final draft.” While this may seem pushy, professors are busy people, so a little nudge or time limit is helpful for both you and them. If they know it’s pressing, they will prioritize it better. There’s nothing worse than them giving you feedback that you don’t have time to include. When they read your final they will likely point out the lack of whatever they suggested.

Here is a sample email to a professor. This is an email I would send to my college professors if I wanted to meet with them. Emailing professors is especially important if their office hours conflict with your schedule. This email assumes you are in a big class or it is very early in the semester. If you clearly know your professor, you can forgo specifying which class you are in, and instead jump into the body of the email. The email also assumes your professor is difficult to meet with, but if you know they’re willing to meet with students, you can give an abbreviated summary of your paper and issue. The summary of what you want to discuss is important for two reasons. First, the professor could (in theory) prepare for the meeting better if he knows what you wish to discuss. Second, if they are hard to reach, you cut out back and forth emails. If they respond that they cannot meet, the can at least answer your questions in the same email.

Hello, Professor James, I am Callie Coker and I am in your Tuesday%2FThursday Intro to Literary Criticism course. I am working on my paper that is due Friday, and I had a couple questions that I would like to discuss w.png

So, there you have my steps for contacting a professor. I think it’s important to show that you care, that you want to learn, and you aren’t asking them to help you because you’ve procrastinated and are now panicking.

How do you contact professors? Have you ever felt nervous or scared to reach out to a professor?

Truly,

Callie leigh

 

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Inbox Management

Hello, World.

You know what’s super stressful? When you open your inbox to 34 unread emails, and you don’t know where to start. Some of the emails are bound to be junk, some are important, but you’re scared that you’ll open them and then forget to respond, and some are emails you can just read and then move on from. Email management can be a somewhat daunting task, but sometimes it’s just about sitting down for a few hours, getting your inbox cleaned up, and then maintaining the cleanliness.

inbox managementI’ve compiled a little How-to cheat sheet for tackling your inbox, keeping it at 0, and feeling accomplished and like your business is done at the end of every day.

Forward all emails to your main email.

I have three email accounts: my old Gmail, my blog email, and my college email. Right now I forward all emails to my college email. This can be bothersome, but it is important to remember that you’re going to be filtering emails. This will keep all emails in one place, and ensure you’re not missing any important emails. It also reduces the hassle of checking three separate accounts everyday.

Filter Emails.

Try to apply a really strong, really great email filter. This will ensure that junk is being sent to the junk folder. You don’t want to open your email and have to sift through hundreds of promotional emails from your favorite stores to get to an email from a professor or employer.

Schedule a Time.

Whether it’s for fifteen minutes when you first wake up, or for thirty minutes before you go to bed, schedule a time each day when you overhaul the day’s emails. I prefer to check my email in the morning because this way I receive emails about classes being cancelled, deadlines changing, etc. I also am more likely to know about meetings or other RA things if I check in the morning. There is nothing worse than checking as I’m about to crawl into bed, and then I realize I missed a meeting (actually, I’ve never done this, but I imagine it’s terrible).

Star Emails.

So, I’m notorious for checking an email en route to class, then promptly forgetting to respond right away. If you have this issue, then welcome to my world! Want to know my biggest tool for combating this? Starring emails! If you star an email it marks it as read, but then adds it to your starred emails folder, where you can access those emails during your designated time and respond to them. Starring emails is seriously underrated. Also, by starring it, it will be ‘read,’ which keeps your inbox at 0.

Unsubscribe.

Sometimes the retail stores, or jewelers, or whoever send too many dang emails in a day. If I get more than two emails from a company, I slowly begin to loathe them. I usually mark their emails as read, then delete them. I HATE getting many emails from one person. So, if you’re being bombarded by these emails, unsubscribe immediately. There is no need for this unnecessary clutter.

How do you keep your email looking glamorously organized?

Truly,

Callie leigh