The Life of a Student

The life of a college student includes many things, such as spending late nights in the library (or in my case, the business school breakout rooms), eating dining hall food that is less than appetizing, and sending a lot of emails.

And I, as a college student, am no different. While I definitely receive more emails than I send out, I do write my fair share of emails, especially to professors. This is because emails can serve a multitude of purposes, from conveying a question in need of clarification to alerting the professor of a particular circumstance to setting up appointment times.

But since there exists the teacher-student power dynamic when emailing a professor, certain writing conventions need to be followed that do not necessarily need to be followed when emailing your peers or other people with whom you have a close relationship. Some of these conventions include always including a formal greeting at the beginning of the email, emailing them at appropriate times, and avoiding using any sort of emojis or slang.

I first learned about these conventions years ago when I began to start writing emails to my teachers. My mom and/or my older brother would always read over my emails and give me advice on how to make my email more appropriate and professional. Without them, I would have realized the many conventions for emailing professors much later on in my life.

Because the audience of the email (i.e. the professor(s) to whom you are sending an email) is most likely expecting these conventions to be followed, not following them can put your reputation at stake because they may assume that you do not care enough to show due respect to your professor(s).

I begin most of my emails very soon after I think of something that I need to ask or inform a professor about. They do not tend to be long-thought out pieces of writing. I only spend enough time writing emails to ensure that I clearly conveyed what I wanted to and that I made sure to follow the various writing conventions associated with emailing a professor. Because of this, I can write emails almost anywhere my phone or laptop has internet connection, but I do usually prefer writing emails when I am sitting in my own room.

But while the process of writing emails to my professors usually looks more or less the same for me, what I am feeling as I write them depends on the content of the email. For example, the most recent email I sent was to my Chinese professor, in which I told her that I had completed an assignment and had attached it to the email. Because I was checking something off my to-do list, I felt a sense of relief as I hit send. However, if I had been emailing her about a potential problem, I might have been feeling worried instead. But, with the number of emails students send to professors, the entire range of emotions will probably be covered sooner or later.

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