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5 Email Templates to Communicate with Your Online Professors

Pre-Written Email Templates That Make it Easy to Get the Help You Need

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Email templates can help you communicate with your online professors quickly and professionally.

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When I meet with online professors, one of their most common complaints is that their students aren’t communicating with them. Professors either receive short, text-like emails lacking necessary detail (which many instructors actually view as insulting) or they receive no contact at all until it’s too late to help.

If you want to be a successful student, learning how to stay in contact with your online professors is essential. Unfortunately, getting your point across through email can be more of a challenge than asking for help face-to-face. If you’re struggling to find the right words, give these email templates a try.

Email Template 1: When You Are Starting an Online Course

Especially when you’re enrolled in a smaller online course (fewer than 40 students), it’s often a good idea to drop your professor an email during the first week. An introductory email can help the professor get to know you on an individual level and make it easier for you to communicate if problems come up later in the course. This is a good time to give a bit of background information about yourself (although don’t overdo it) and ask a quick question.

Hello Professor X,

My name is [name] and I’m excited to be in your course this semester. [Give one sentence explaining any relation to the subject or relevant background. For example: “I actually interned for a newspaper last summer and am looking forward to improving my writing.”] One quick question: [insert question regarding expectations / upcoming assignments]. Thanks very much for your help.

Sincerely,

X

Email Template 2: When You Need Extra Help

If you get to a point in an online course where you are stuck, communicating with your professor is essential. Don’t delay – too many students put it off and fall too far behind. Ask for help while your professor is still able to give it. The following email template is direct and makes it easy for your professor to find a way to assist.

Hello Professor X,

I’ve been enjoying (whatever you’ve been enjoying about the course), but I am having a very difficult time with [what you’re struggling with]. To figure this out, I have [list what steps you’ve taken on your own]. However, I’m still stuck. Would you be willing to help me [meeting in person / phone conference / etc]. Please let me know what works for you.

Thank you,

X

Email Template 3: When You Encounter a Technical Problem with the Course

Your campus probably has a department that is dedicated to technical support, so contact them first. However, if a problem still persists, make sure that your teacher knows about it. A few sentences (and a screenshot of the offending assignment, if possible) should do the trick.

Hello Professor X,

I just wanted to let you know that [overview of technical issue]. I contacted [name of campus technical support department], however the problem is still there and I thought you’d like to know about it since [the deadline for this assignment is tomorrow / the peer groups can’t communicate / etc.]

Thanks,

Student X

Email Template 4: When You Need Extra Time to Complete an Assignment

Online instructors are often more likely to extend a deadline if you ask before the due date. Here’s a graceful way to ask for more time while making it easy for your instructor to give the go ahead. (Notice you’re specifically indicating the requested deadline so your professor doesn’t have to work that out).

Hello Professor X,

I know that the [name of quiz / essay / etc.] assignment is due [date it’s due]. However, I’m struggling to meet that deadline because [reasons that you haven’t been able to complete the work]. Would it be possible for me to take some extra time with it? If so, could I be permitted to turn the assignment in by [time] on [day] instead? Thanks very much for your assistance.

Sincerely,

X

Email Template 5: When You Want to Challenge a Grade

Here’s a template you hopefully won’t have to use much. But, if you feel that you’ve been shortchanged in the grade department, it’s best to speak up. Try to be direct rather than defensive / aggressive. A logical and polite argument will work best in this situation.

Hello Professor X,

I noticed that I received a [grade] in [assignment / the class]. I’m a bit confused about the grade I received because [detailed reasons you deserve different grade]. Is there a way I can request a grade change from you? Or, would it be possible to discuss my concern with you through a phone conference? My number is: [phone number]. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sincerely,

X

Email Template 6: When You Are Finishing an Online Class

Once the semester is wrapped up, it’s a kind gesture to thank your professor. This will also keep you in his or her mind when it comes to things like writing grad school recommendation letters or selecting students for special projects. A couple sentences is just fine, but concrete, specific compliments are always the most appreciated.

Dear Professor X,

I wanted to thank you for an excellent course. I learned a lot this semester and particularly enjoyed [whatever you happened to enjoy, try to be specific]. Thank you for being an excellent instructor.

Sincerely,

X

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