You've Got Mail

Who ever knew there was a protocol to emailing your professors? Most students think if they have an instant concern or problem that they can e-mail their professors. You can but there is a proper way of doing it. Talking and emailing with your professors was the lecture topic on Sept. 24 in the Math Complex 8. The lecture is apart of the student service workshop series.

The lecture was given by Tina Feiger, psychology professor and SMC's ombudsperson. Feiger works in the ombuds office where students can complain about virtually anything school related. Feiger said, "The objective is to find out what are the students options? What are college policies and help with students needs."

An intimate group of students came together to listen to Fieger break down the do's and don'ts to communicating with your professors. The idea for the lecture came about when Feiger and Lucy Jones, a fellow ombudspersons, noticed the complaints that would come into the ombuds office about the lack of communication between students and their professors. Some students don't know that there is a proper way to e-mail their professors if it's not explained at the beginning of the course or put into the syllabus. Estella Avalos said, "I had no idea that there was a format or organized way to e-mail my professors. I just address them formally to be courteous." Not all students take into consideration that they should be polite or courteous.

During the meeting Feiger passed out "Guidelines for effectively communicating with your professors," a paper that listed the appropriate and inappropriate way to communicate with faculty members. The best advice on the list is always planning your time and place wisely and remember to always be respectful when approaching a professor about a complaint.

According to the list and Fieger, students should not bring their complaints to the teacher in front of room full of students. This can cause a scene and it usually doesn't get the students the results that they want or need. E-mail is a better way for professors to give a thought out answer or set up an appointment for a one on one discussion. But if that is the method students settle on to use there are proper ways to do it.

Students are becoming too relaxed with their professors and contacting them as they would a friend. Using color font, bold lettering, smiley faces, fancy backgrounds and the infamous exclamation point. Leave the graphic design for some other occasion. Keep it simple and straight to the point. Avoid using abbreviations, texting language and slang when talking or e-mailing your instructors. Some students' approaches can be disrespectful to the professors. Calling a professor or faculty member by their first name or not using their title such as Dr. can be offensive.

Professors who have earned their doctorate have been through years of hard work and study to earn that title and have a sense of pride in it. Other things that are listed in the guidelines are to avoid using bold, all capital lettering and inappropriate punctuation. Remember that the person reading the message can't see you and misuse of font and font style can come off as shouting on-line.

Feiger said students should always be considerate of a faculty member's time. Remember that they are not on-line all day waiting for students to contact them.

Do not expect an instant response over the weekend. Professors have lives, families and times for recreation just like everyone else. The best thing to do is proofread and spell check your messages and don't e-mail while angry. If all proper procedures are taken and have failed, the problem should be brought into the ombuds office.