Thursday, January 12, 2012

How To E-Mail A Professor

Yesterday, I read a post from J Ben Deaton titled, "How to E-mail A Professor (And Make Them Want to Help You)".

In the article, he describes how students should write an e-mail to a professor in a professional manner.  It is advice that should certainly be heeded:

If you want to get awesome help, here is how to write a professional email to a professor:
  1. Write a descriptive subject line.
  2. Write a salutation: “Dear Mr. Deaton” or “Dear Ben” is great.
  3. Give some succinct context. “I’m a student in your MW COE2001 course. I’ve been working on the homework and am stuck on problem 3.14 (on page 56). I’ve tried methods A, B, and C.”
  4. Ask a clear question with a direct call to action. In other words, make it obvious what you want from me. Do you want to set up a meeting? Do you want a pointer on how to set up the moment equilibrium equation?
  5. Thank me for my time. I’ve got plenty on my plate, so this is common courtesy.
  6. Sign your full name.
This is a great list.

That is, if you are a student who actually wants help.

But what about the student who doesn't actually want help?  What about the scholar who simply wishes to get around doing the homework?   

Fear not.  I am here for you.

If you would much rather opt to show up to class the next day, armed only with a surefire excuse as to why you are empty-handed, here’s the e-mail you should send:

  1. Write a descriptive subject line.  This is very important.  Make sure that you barely include any details about the actual situation, while including many words having to do with shopping or sex.  Think: “Teacher?  Click Now For Free $50 Staples Gift Card!” or “Hot Young Schoolgirl in your Inbox.”  This is your first line of defense in making sure that the e-mail gets sent, but doesn’t get seen.  When offering your excuse in class, encourage the professor to open up his spam folder.  When he asks about the subject line, simply state that finding an answer was so important that you desperately wanted to grab his attention with promises of gift cards.  Be sure he knows that the gift card is off the table since he did not respond in a timely manner.
  2. Write a salutation: “Hiya!” or “Yo prof!” will suffice.
  3. Give a succinct excuse.  Describe a fake problem or ailment using two words or less.  Everyone knows that a liar gets caught up in too many details, so keep it short and sweet.  “Car broke,” “Apartment burnt,” or “Diarrhea explosion” are good starting points.
  4. Ask an unclear question with an impossible-to-decipher resolution.  In other words, make a vague statement that clearly demonstrates everything and nothing at different analogous times.  See what I did there?  No?  Good.  The key is to sound intelligent, dense, and emotionally unstable, all at the same time.  The importance of this step is that it serves as a backup plan in case the teacher is dumb enough to think he can get a Staples gift card or lonely enough to check out the “hot young schoolgirl” in his inbox.  Since you aren’t smart enough to figure out the answer to the question, it is likely that you are also incapable of generating an intelligent question to ask.  This is why you must talk in circles and come to an impossible-to-decipher resolution (IDR).  To determine if you’ve written an acceptable IDR, you can use your dumb roommate as a litmus test.  Say, “Read this and tell me if it makes sense.”  If he has to read it three or more times to come to the conclusion that it does not make sense, then you’ve got yourself a great IDR.
  5. Thank the e-mail service for its time.  Literally hundreds of e-mails are sent throughout the world every day.  It is important to thank the people at Gmail or Yahoo! Mail for providing this free service, and allowing you to get out of your homework.  It requires tons of manpower for them to read every single e-mail sent every single day to determine which e-mails go to your spam and which go to your inbox.  Take a quick second to thank them.  Your good manners and thoughtfulness might impress your teacher.
  6. Sign your stripper nameAs if you didn't already.

Follow these easy steps, and you will be getting out of homework in no time.

You’re welcome.

Actually, don’t thank me.  Thank Hotmail.

-Youngman Brown

P.S. I understand that you are lazy.  I am lazy, too, so I know.  But if you require extra help and reach out to a teacher, and they grant you that extra help (responding to e-mails, setting up meetings, giving you an extension because of your explosive diarrhea...) make sure you take the time to thank them, and let them know that you appreciate them going out of their way to help you.  They don't have to.  But in my experience, they always want to.  That kind of inherent kindness is something that you should be envious that you don't possess, but at the same time thankful that it is given to you.

Wait for it....

Ahh... there it is.  The sweet nectar of knowledge.

1 comment:

  1. well,this is pretty cool.
    i for one hated the moment when i had to email my snobbish if i wanted to hold a meeting with a minister!

    'oh oh im not free.please dont disturb me' bla bla blaa...excuses!

    i'm glad it's all over now! HAHA


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