College is the time during which many students finally begin to get serious about their grades. Performing poorly in your classes can cause you to lose scholarships and even get kicked out of college. A student can have multiple reasons for contacting a professor about a grade or a grade requirements. Perhaps you are wondering what your average is, or you feel a particular grade was unfair. You can use email as a means to successfully address your concerns with your professor.
How to Contact a Professor
Before writing an email, really think about why you're writing and what you want to write about. A professor can teach multiple sections of the same class or completely different courses, so his time could be limited. Make sure you're prepared so you're not wasting his time or yours. In the subject line of the email, include the topic of why you're writing and the title of your course and section. This will allow your professor to know exactly why you're writing. Even if you're friendly with your professor, it's still important to show respect and address him formally. For example, begin with, "Dear Professor Smith."
How to Write About Your Concerns
Begin your email with a description of who you are. Provide your full name as well as the name and numerical identification of the class about which you are writing. Insert a polite request. Write something like, "I would very much appreciate your input concerning a matter pertaining to my grade in your class."
Describe in brief terms what your concern is. Be specific. For instance, you might write, "I do not understand why I received a D on the paper that I wrote, entitled, 'Music in the Classroom.'" Make sure you're polite and respectful in your concern.
Defer to your professor's preference for addressing the matter. For example, you could write, "Could you please explain why I received this grade? If you would rather talk about it in person, please let me know. I would be happy to meet with you during your office hours."
Provide your contact information, including your email and telephone number. End politely with an expression of gratitude and good will. You could say something like, "Thank you for your time and attention. I want to perform well in your class, and hopefully our communication will help me to do so more effectively."
Add a closing, similar to what you would use in a letter, such as "Sincerely, (your first and last name)."
How to Respond to Answers from Your Professor
Because your professor might be busy with his other classes, make sure you give him a proper amount of time to respond. Don't email or call if you don't get a response right away. You don't want to appear pushy.
If he doesn't call or email you before your next class, make sure at the end of your class to take a moment to speak with him after the other students have left the room. You could simply say, "Professor, I sent you an email last week about my grade. I know how busy you are and I wanted to make sure you saw it." At that moment, if time is available your professor will take the time to speak with you about the grade. If not, he will schedule time with you then to discuss further. Just remember to be patient.
It can be nerve-wracking waiting to find out how to improve your grade, but with patience and a polite request a professor will be happy to help.