The Pony Express

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Brian Naples wants you to communicate effectively.

Brian Naples wants you to communicate effectively.

Brian Naples wants you to communicate effectively.

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What is the most effective method of communicating with your college professors through email? This is a question every college student should consider. The formalities of written communication are frequently neglected in the modern age of electronic communication. The loss of formality often results in miscommunication between the instructor and student. It further results in a misinterpretation of “tone” and quickly becomes a source of contention. If you would like to communicate with your instructor effectively, efficiently, and successfully here are a few tips to consider.

First, do not communicate in “Textese.” Using abbreviations and slang terms like “u”, “ttyl” and “thx” maybe an efficient form of communication with your close friends but it is inappropriate with your professors. Keep your communication professional: spell out complete words and sentences.

Second, properly address your professor in the message. Email has become so easy that we often forget it’s still a letter. By simply addressing your instructors by their proper title, you set a respectful and cooperative tone. This goes a long way with your professor.

Third, proofread your email. It is easy to send messages “on the fly.” But quick messages often leave unchecked errors which can dramatically alter their meaning. Your professors love a message which is intelligible and free from grammatical errors.

Fourth, if you have a question about a particular assignment, be sure to address the assignment by its title and due date. This will allow your professors to immediately review the assignment rather than spending time attempting to interpret your specific review request.

Fifth, do not start your communication under the assumption that your professor is in the wrong. It is true that professors make mistakes. But if you start an email by immediately placing the burden of proof upon the professor, you are setting the stage for a fight even before time has been taken to review the issue. It is best first to ask your instructor if they can review the problem before you begin with the accusations. It will more than likely avoid an unnecessary fight.

Sixth, understand that emails/messages with your professor become property of the college. These messages are archived in case issues arise. You should carefully discern what you write before you send it. Think to yourself, “Do I want this to go on record?”

Finally, don’t be “that” student. Avoid at all costs blitzing your professor with emails. Search through the syllabus and assigned material for the answer to your question before you write to your professor. Nothing makes your professor happier than knowing their students are taking advantage of the resources he or she gave you.

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Before you press the send button