Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Three emails to send to your professor now that class is over

When I wrote Community College Success, one of the things that motivated me was the amazing support and direction that the professors in my life – especially those at my community college – gave me as I worked my way through college.

But that support didn’t come accidentally. And while some professors reached out to me on the journey, many of the connections that I made (that led me to scholarships and other opportunities) developed when I reached out to my instructors.

And while it isn’t a one-time-thing or quick fix, a great way to start to develop and further your relationship with professors is the end-of-course email.

So once you have finished your class and received your grade (you don’t want to do this before final grades so as to avoid looking like you are trying to influence your final grade) you have several options to send a quick (yet powerful) email your professors.

Check them out below and choose the option that best fits your scenario - and start to make those priceless and genuine connections with your professors. 

1. If you like the grade that you earned in your class, let the professor know that you really appreciated the content and explain what exactly you liked about the class. Professors appreciate feedback – especially when it comes to letting them know what engages students in the classroom. This can be a great way to begin to build a relationship with a professor that will lead into next semester.

2. If you didn’t like your grade, say thank you for a great class, express your disappointment in yourself – and try to set up an appointment to meet with the professor during summer or in the fall to ask advice for how to improve in the future. This is particularly useful if you’ll need to build on that subject for your major (e.g. English/writing, math/science). This isn’t easy. It will require bravery, but I think that if you are paying for college in order to learn, you have to make yourself get the most out of your subjects. And that certainly goes for subjects that you might struggle with. 

3. Finally, if it was a class that genuinely interested you, regardless of what your grade was, say thank you for the class and ask for advice on what work or volunteer opportunities might be available for that field or subject. Professors often have ventures and connections related to the subject that they teach – sending this email could open up doors for you that you didn’t even know existed. At the very least, you are showing interest to a professor who might be one you ask for a recommendation letter when you transfer.

Regardless of which email you decide to send, or if you use a combination of the ones above, remember that developing true, authentic relationships with your professors can be a good way to help with your recommendation letters and scholarship opportunities in the future. And in many cases (like mine) a good relationship with a professor can change the course of your life.

You will never know what is out there if you don’t take the opportunity to connect – so take a few minutes right now to reach out and send those emails. 

Good luck and keep it up in your future semesters! 

For more advice on how to talk with professors, I highly recommend Say This, NOT That To Your Professor by Ellen Bremen

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