Why communicating formally with professors is important

Why communicating formally with professors is important

Why communicating formally with professors is important
August 07
19:30 2017

In recent years, students have become more informal in communicating with their professors. Whether it be through email or in-person, the respect for our professors is lacking.

Due in part to our obsession with social media, the quickest way to get an idea across is often placed above the most formal way to express oneself. As college students, we have mastered the art of expressing our thoughts in 140 characters or less. In order to do this, we sacrifice appropriate spelling and substitute proper English for slang.

This is fine for social media – but once that vernacular spills into our communication with professors, there is a problem.

Professors are authority figures regardless of whether you like them. Just as we respect our elders and parents, we must apply this same respect to our professors. We cannot talk to professors the way we talk to our friends or the way we talk online.

Referring to a professor as “prof” or calling them by their first name is disrespectful. Professors have earned their title and their superiority.

Refusing to acknowledge this is rude.

Your professor is not your friend or a casual acquaintance – such titles protect them from being treated in such a way. Some professors even have to add provisions in their syllabi outlining the proper way to contact them.

In a study of the content of syllabi for sociology classes, it was found while just 14 percent of syllabi in 2004 addressed classroom etiquette, 33 percent did so in 2010.

Professors are having to teach their students how to communicate professionally. Instead of including just their email, they must emphasize they will not respond to email addresses that are not associated with the university or emails that are written too casually. It is ridiculous that professors must plead with their students to refrain from inappropriate language or abbreviations in an academic environment.

In writing emails to professors, it is crucial you remain formal. No professor wants to wake up in the morning to an email that resembles a drunk Facebook rant about your paper being late. This will not help you get an extension or win any points with your professor, should they even choose to respond to you.

Not only do formal emails show respect for your professor, but they also prepare you for the workplace. Knowing how to address the person you are emailing, using proper grammar and signing off professionally are all crucial to a well-written email in the workplace. Your employer will not take kindly to your unnecessary abbreviation and superfluous emojis, just as your professor won’t.

Preserving the superior teacher/inferior student relationship is crucial to a learning environment. Treating your professor like a friend diminishes their authority and creates an atmosphere where education is not the priority. Smudging this line can make communicating with your professor difficult and your grade could suffer.

Your professors are there to help you learn and as a student, you have chosen to sit for their class. The least you can do for a professor in exchange for their wisdom is to treat them with the respect they have earned.

Featured illustration by Samuel Wiggins

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Amanda Lee

Amanda Lee

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