The Importance of Professional Emailing as an Online Student

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Posted on February 11th, 2011

Online learning consists solely of electronic communication. Because of this, professional email etiquette is a must. Your online professor gains an understanding of who you are partially through the way in which you speak in your emails to them. Learning to write clear, concise, and professional emails will help you become a more successful online learner and prepare you for electronic communication in your future career.

The first step to an effective and professional email is writing an appropriate subject line. The subject line of an email is, next to your name, the first thing the recipient sees. It is important to convey a message in this line that is clear and concise. Give the recipient the bottom line of the message they are about to read without summarizing the entire thing. Be precise and include details that allow the recipient to identify what you are talking about quickly and unambiguously. As a student emailing an online professor, be sure not to leave the subject line blank. Professors (particularly online ones) receive dozens of emails a day. Some may not even open emails without subject lines.

Another essential aspect of professional emailing etiquette is a writing a proper greeting. Be sure to include a greeting that is both courteous and official when conversing with a professor. Always address them with the appropriate level of formality and, although it sounds silly, be sure you have spelled their name correctly. Do not address them as you would a friend (i. e. do not simply right “hi” or “hey”). Always address your professor as Dr. (if appropriate), Mr., or Mrs. if you are unsure of what to call them. If your professor replies and has used his or her first name only, then it is safe to assume you can call them by their first name.

It is important to remember to use good grammar and spelling in emails, especially to professors. Slipping into an overly conversational tone can be easy with email. While informal emails are fine when conversing with friends and family, you should always talk with your instructors in a professional manner. Use the spell checker and re-read your emails before pressing send. An email with poor grammar and bad spelling will simply not be taken seriously.

Writing a professional email in the world of online education is equivalent to speaking politely and professionally during a professor’s office hours. Do not distract your instructor from you legitimate questions and insightful thoughts with careless spelling and inappropriate greetings or subject lines.

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