How to email teachers

Introducing yourself to the professor is an important step when beginning a new semester in college, especially if you are in an online class. By sending an email, you are able to verify that you have the correct contact information for the professor and that the professor has the correct contact information for you. Don’t wait until you have a problem before making contact; it could take longer to resolve your issue.

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things needed

  • Email account

1 Open a new email

Open a new email. Insert the professor’s email address in the “send to” line. Enter your last name, class synonym and the word “Introduction” in the subject line. The subject line is used to tell the professor the reason for your email and will help ensure you don’t end up in the spam folder.

2 Begin with the salutation

Begin with the salutation, also referred to as the greeting, in the body of the email. “Dear [recipient’s proper name]” is a good example. For a more informal introduction, “Hello [recipient’s given name]” is suitable. Avoid using slang terms such as “hey.”

3 Space

Space down to a new line after the salutation. Include your full name, class name and synonym (if applicable) within the first sentence. It is helpful to let your professor know the class you are in, because each class generally has numerous students. A long paragraph is not necessary.

4 Thank you

End with “thank you” and then space down to a new line. There you will create a signature block that will include your name and contact information. Include your email address and phone number should the professor ever need to contact you via phone.

5 Send the email

Send the email. You should receive an acknowledgment email from the professor within a couple of days. If you do not hear back, send another email because your email might have ended up in the junk folder. Request being added to the professor’s safe list to ensure future emails aren’t lost.

How to email teachers

In most situations requiring you to communicate with your teacher, it is best to talk in person. I advise face-to-face meetings when possible because this reduces the chance of miscommunication. In-person meetings also give us the chance to communicate via body language, which is important if you struggle with verbal expression.

However, there are times when face-to-face meetings aren’t possible and you have to write an email instead. For these reasons, you need to know how to write an email to your teacher so that your message is clear and respectful, and also so that you get a response that addresses your concerns.

If your email is unclear and your questions are indirect, you won’t likely get the clear and direct answers you’re seeking — makes sense, right?

Knowing how to write an email to your teacher isn’t just a school-skill; eventually you’ll be writing emails to your boss, to your co-workers, and to other high-rollers. And because you can’t hit “unsend,” you better get it right the first time. If you’re out of school and in the workforce, these email tips, rules and examples apply to you as well.

Okay, onto the rules, the dos and the don’ts.

How to write an email to your teacher (or to your boss, colleague, principal, etc.)

1. Repeat after me: an email is not a text message.

2. Repeat after me: an email is not a novel or an epic poem.

3. Always enter in a subject line. Never leave this field blank. Keep it short and to the point, basically like giving your email a “title.” Don’t be creative, don’t use capital letters (no need to SHOUT), and avoid exclamation points unless it’s an actual emergency … in which case….call 911?

Examples of good subject lines:

  • Retaking Monday’s test
  • Staying after school this week
  • Question about tonight’s homework
  • Scheduling a time to meet

Examples of terrible subject lines:

  • [no subject]
  • WHAT DID I MISS.
  • Help.
  • i lost my homework and i dont know where to get another copy can you send me another one

4. Use a proper greeting. In fancy language, this is called a salutation. I’m not fancy. In most scenarios, when writing an email to your teacher, you will use “Dear Ms. Smith” – or whatever your teacher’s name is. If you have had your teacher for more than a few weeks, it is okay to use “Hi Ms. Smith.” In either case, always close your salutation with a comma.

Examples of good email greetings:

  • Dear Mr. Smith,
  • Hi Mrs. Jones,

Examples of bad email greetings:

  • [blank]
  • Hey!!
  • What’s up.

5. Introduce yourself. Unless you’re in elementary school and you only have one teacher, the first sentence of your email should clearly and directly state who you are. Don’t skip this step even if your email address contains your name. Keep this information basic and relevant (your teacher/boss doesn’t need to know your shoe size). Do not write more than one sentence.

Examples of good introductory sentences:

  • This is Maria Ricci – I am in your A-period chemistry class.
  • This is Chrissy Holmes, and I am in your Tuesday night Economics 101 lecture.

6. Write a brief overview sentence. This is an important, simple, single sentence that clearly states why you are writing the email. It should be similar to your subject line. If this sentence doesn’t match your subject line, go back and edit your subject line.

Examples of good overview sentences:

  • I’m writing to you because I was absent on Tuesday and I have some questions about what I missed.
  • I’m emailing you to follow up about our conversation we had after class yesterday.
  • I’m writing to you because I’m looking for some extra help with the material we covered this week.

7. Write the email body. This is where you state your message and/or ask your questions, and is the whole reason you are writing. Be direct, be clear, and be brief. Ideally, this section should be five sentences or less. If you have multiple questions, use bullet points. If your sentences are long, then use extra line breaks (paragraphs) to separate the text into smaller chunks. (See the extra tips below for more about paragraph size and readability.)

8. Thank your teacher/boss and close out the email. Again, keep this part of your email brief.

Examples of good email closures:

Thank you! Sincerely, Meggan Meggles

I appreciate your help. Billy Bob

9. Proof before sending. Don’t skip this step! Read the email aloud to yourself to catch any funky parts, and review the email for spelling errors or word-choice errors. For the love of everything holy, capitalize your “I”s.

How to email teachers

Here’s an example email, using and identifying all the steps from above.

Now that you know how to write an email to your teacher (or boss), consider the following tips as well.

1. Keep paragraphs to no more than four-ish sentences each.

2. Limit exclamation points. If you simply MUST use one, limit yourself to one exclamation point per email.

3. Avoid blame and take responsibility. If you’re emailing your teacher about an issue you have with your grade or about a problem you’re having, be careful with your wording. Instead of “I don’t get why you gave me an F!” you could write “I got an F on the assignment, and I’m hoping you could help me understand what I did wrong.” Taking ownership is a much better approach and will increase the chances of your teacher helping you.

4. For high-stakes emails – like if you’re emailing your principal or boss – send the email to yourself first. Doing so gives you one last chance to proof it for dumb mistakes and/or errors in tone.

5. Keep it short. Any email longer than 10-12 sentences is better off as a phone call or an in-person meeting

6. Don’t overdo formatting. Avoid colors, weird fonts, all-capital letters, and excessive bold and italics. An appropriate place to use bold might be to highlight dates and times, like in the following example:

Would you be able to meet with me on Tuesday, November 20th at 2:00?

7. Avoid jokes and sarcasm. Save the humor and sarcasm for in-person conversations, as it’s easy for the recipient to misinterpret your tone without hearing your voice or seeing your body language / facial expressions.

Emailing is an effective and efficient form of communication when done correctly. So keep it simple, keep it respectful, and PROOFREAD!

Here are the 4 pillars of email management for students. If you’re overwhelmed in your inbox, follow these 4 steps.

How to email teachersA teacher needs to follow certain rules of email etiquette for the following reasons:

  • Professionalism: By using proper email language you will convey a professional image.
  • Confidentiality: When following protocol guidelines, teachers are able to refrain from divulging personal student data
  • Efficiency: Emails that are to the point are much more effective than poorly worded emails.

Here are some rules of email etiquette:

1. Be concise and to the point.

Do not make an e-mail longer than it needs to be. Remember that reading an e-mail is harder than reading printed communications and a long e-mail can be very discouraging to read.

2. Answer all questions and pre-empt further questions.

An email reply must answer all questions, while pre-empting further questions – If you do not answer all the questions in the original email, you will receive further emails regarding the unanswered questions, which will not only waste your time and the other person’s time but also cause considerable frustration. Moreover, if you are able to pre-empt relevant questions, people will be grateful and impressed with your efficient and thoughtful responses.

3. Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation.

This is important because improper spelling, grammar and punctuation gives a bad impression. It is also important to conveying a message properly. Emails with no full stops or commas are difficult to read and can sometimes even change the meaning of the text.

4. Use appropriate spacing and emphasis

Since reading from a screen is more difficult than reading from paper, the structure and layout is very important. Use short paragraphs and blank lines between each paragraph. When making points, number them or mark each point as separate to keep the overview. Remember that if you use the editing features available in your email program they might not show up in all of your recipients’ programs so don’t rely on colors, bold, italics, etc for emphasis.

5. Do not overuse the high priority option.

The high priority option will lose its function when you really need it if it is over-used. Moreover, even if a mail has high priority, your message could come across as aggressive if you flag it as ‘high priority’. Use this sparingly.

6. Do not use CAPITALS for an entire email.

IF YOU WRITE IN CAPITALS IT SEEMS AS IF YOU ARE SHOUTING. At the very most, capitals can be used to emphasize one word, but more than that is inappropriate.

7. Don’t leave out the message thread.

When you reply to an email, you should include the original mail in your reply, in other words click ‘Reply’, instead of ‘New Mail’. Your email program probably also has an option of including the original message (if needed, you might ask your local tech support to set this for you). Using this option makes things much easier for the reader, especially if you include a new recipient (CC) on a reply. The recipient(s) will be able to follow the discussion much more efficiently.

8. Read the email before you send it.

A lot of people don’t bother to read an email before they send it out, as can be seen from the many spelling and grammar mistakes contained in emails. Apart from this, reading your email through the eyes of the recipient will help you send a more effective message and avoid misunderstandings. Before pressing send, think about how the message will “feel” for your recipient – it is never recommended to make jokes or using sarcasm. It’s very easy for email messages to be misinterpreted because of incorrect tone.

9. Do not use CC if sending to a mailing list.

When sending an email to a large number of people, some people place all the email addresses in the To: field. There are two drawbacks to this practice:

(1) the recipient knows that you have sent the same message to a large number of recipients, and

(2) you are sharing and publicizing someone else’s email address without their permission.

One way to get round this is to place all addresses in the Bcc: field.

10. Take care with abbreviations and emoticons.

In formal emails, try not to use abbreviations such as BTW (by the way) and LOL (laugh out loud). The recipient might not be aware of the meaning of the abbreviations and these are generally not appropriate in formal communication. The same goes for emoticons, such as the ‘smiley’. If you are not sure whether your recipient knows what it means, it is better not to use it.

How to email teachers

There are many situations when you need to email your professor: Asking a question, inquiring about your grades, informing them about a missed class, etc. If you’re wondering how to write an email to a professor, we’ll guide you, step by step. At the end of this article, you’ll find several email samples you can use for different occasions.

How to write an email to a professor: A step by step guide

1. Make sure you really need to send that email

If you want to email a professor asking a question, check your syllabus first. Chances are pretty solid you’ll find the answer. The syllabus can tell you about your workload, assignments, deadlines, and more. If that’s something you were looking for, there’s no need to send an email and waste your professor’s time. Your classmates are another valuable source of information, so make sure to talk to them first.

If the syllabus, or your peers, can’t answer your question, it’s fine to send an email with additional inquiries.

2. Use your school email

This is the best course of action because such an email looks professional and shows a recipient that your message is about classes. If you don’t have an educational email address, make sure to use an appropriate email address like [email protected]. Your [email protected] address isn’t suitable for academic correspondence.

3. Write a clear subject line

The subject line defines if a recipient opens your email, so make sure it’s clear, concise and to the point. A good subject line tells a professor what your email is about and how they should act on it.

Here are some subject line examples:

Question about [Course name] assignment

[Course name] : Asking for an appointment

4. Include a proper email greeting

Start your email to a professor with an appropriate and respectful salutation. Double-check their name before sending an email and make sure your greeting is followed by a comma.

Here’s how to start an email to a professor:

Dear Professor [Last Name] ,

5. Remind who you are

Professors have lots of students, so it’s important to tell them your name and the class you’re attending. This helps you save the recipient time and ensures you get a reply faster.

Here’s how to start an email to a professor:

My name is Lexie Brown, from History 1B, Section 1.

6. Get straight to the point

After greeting a professor and introducing yourself, it’s time to state your question or request. Keep it concise and clear, so the recipient can quickly comprehend what it’s about and what action is expected from them.

I was wondering if we could set up an appointment to discuss my grade on [Assignment name] . Please let me know if you are able to meet next week.

7. End an email politely and include a professional signature

How to end an email to a professor? Thank them for their time and sign off your email with “Sincerely” or “Best regards” followed by your name.

Here’s an example:

Thank you for your time and have a great day.
Sincerely,
Lexie Brown

8. Proofread your email

Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Make sure to stick to a formal tone and avoid emojis or informal abbreviations like FYI or ASAP. Check the spelling of your professor’s name one more time.

9. Put yourself in your professor’s shoes

Reread the email as if you are a professor who receives it. Is it clear who’s writing to you and what they want? Is the tone of the email polite and respectful? Does it comply with a formal email format? If all your answers are “Yes,” then feel free to send your email.

Email to professor samples

Once you’ve learned how to email a professor, it’s time to practice. Below, you’ll find a number of email samples for different situations. Please keep in mind that these examples are for reference only, and you should always personalize and tweak them to your needs.

If you frequently need to email your professor, you can add these templates to Spark and reuse them whenever needed. Learn how templates in Spark work.

1. Email to a professor about not attending class

Subject: History 1B: Class attendance

Dear Professor Smith,

This is Lexie Brown, from History 1B, Section 1. I am writing to inform you that I won’t be able to attend your class on Thursday, as I have a doctor’s appointment at 11 AM.

Please find attached my assignment we are supposed to submit by Thursday. I will also do my best to look through the materials you provided for this class and ask my classmates to share their notes.

Best regards,
Lexie Brown

2. Email to a professor about grades

Subject: History 1B: Inquiring about my grade

Dear Professor Smith,

My name is Lexie Brown, from History 1B, Section 1. I was wondering if we could set up an appointment to discuss my grade on [Assignment name] .

I have checked that your office hours are scheduled on Wednesdays from 2 to 5 PM. If this is correct, please let me know if I can come.

I look forward to your reply.

Kind regards,
Lexie Brown

3. Email to a professor asking a question

Subject: Question about the History 1B assignment

Dear Professor Smith,

I am Lexie Brown, from History 1B, Section 1. In the syllabus, the deadline for our latest assignment is listed as April 9th. However, in class on Monday you mentioned April 12th as the deadline.

Could you please verify the correct deadline?

Thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely,
Lexie Brown

4. Email to a professor asking for an appointment

Subject: History 1B: Appointment request

Dear Professor Smith,

I am a student in your History 1B class, Section 1. I faced some difficulties with selecting a topic for my research paper, and I would appreciate it if I could discuss it with you during your office hours.

Please let me know if you are available to meet this week.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to your reply.

Best regards,
Lexie Brown

Want to become better at email? Get Spark. This free and powerful email client lets you use email templates, so you can save time with writing similar emails. It also gives you email superpowers like snoozes, email scheduling, and follow up reminders to help you work with email faster.

How to email teachers

Who taught you how to use email professionally? We’ve all been victim to the colleague who thinks an email is a book, replies to all with “thanks,” or does not include a subject line. Considering how much email we send as a professional, this tool should not be something we overlook with our students.

With so many schools having Google Apps for Education (GAfE), many students have email. This gives us the opportunity to use the tool as a platform for assignments. Ask students to craft an email to demonstrate their learning. Include requirements such as “Send an email to your group and the teacher using BCC” or “Write an email with a subject line that indicates what class you are in.”

Add to the crowdsourced Google Slides presentation below to add your tips for using email. The slides can give you ideas for requirements to use in an email assignment.

Related Alice Keeler Blog Posts:

3 thoughts on “Teach Students How to Email”

Alice, you hit one big nail on the head in your post. The problem of “no subject”. I teach this to third graders every year. Most of them do a great job with it. But, I agree that one does need to “teach” email. I also make sure to explain the difference between a text and an email. Rock On! Charlie

It’s funny, I hear some teachers say we don’t need to teach email anymore because this generation doesn’t use it. However, the previous generation DOES. A lot! In order to function in our current world, this is still a very necessary skill. It is also quite transferrable. Most of what is on this slideshow would be relevant in the case of messaging, texting, or any other text-based communication. Thanks for starting this. I will be using!

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How to email teachersAlice Keeler is a mom of 5. Current High School math teacher. Developer for Schoolytics.io. Google Certified Innovator, Microsoft Innovative Educator, and Google Developer Expert. Founder of #coffeeEDU

How to email teachers

How to email teachers

How to email teachers

How to email teachers

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How to email teachers

Imagine that you are a consultant that specializes in learning. Because you are a superstar , your clientele list has grown significantly and you now have over 150 cases to manage. You see each case EVERY day and each one of those cases also has up to two people providing oversight. Can you imagine what a typical day might feel like? If so, welcome to the world of the high school teacher!

When you are worried about your child’s progress at school, are looking for advice, or have specific questions about grades or assignments, your child’s teacher can help. Make their job easier by:

  1. Keeping your email very brief (shorter than this blog post!)
  2. Providing a subject line that’s clear and specific
  3. Be positive – Show empathy and gratitude for what your child’s teacher does
  4. Emphasize your child’s desire to learn over the desired grade
  5. Don’t blame child’s problems on teacher’s ability or style
  6. Use bullet points or numbered lists whenever possible for easy-skimming (and quicker answers!)
  7. Allow time for a response (at least 24 hours)

Below are examples you can use to get straight to the point!

Situation 1: Johnny has missed homework assignments

Dear Mr. X.,My son, John Smith, has been struggling in Math. I truly appreciate your meeting with him after school after the last test. I checked online, and I saw that John missed a couple of assignments this past week. John reports that he “had no idea how to even start” the homework.My questions for you:

  • Should John make an appointment to come in to see you or can he just show up after school?
  • Is there any possibility that John could earn points for completing the missing assignments? If so, what would be the (new) due date?
  • Lastly, if we decide to work with a tutor, do you have specific advice I can pass on regarding what concepts to start with, the next test dates, etc…?

Thank you for everything that you do!

Never assume a teacher will or should give points for late work, and tread lightly in requesting exceptions to any stated policies. If there are extenuating circumstances, definitely explain them (a death in the family or serious illness). You might consider calling and leaving a voicemail for the teacher.

Situation 2: Johnny is turning in homework, but performing poorly on quizzes/tests:

Recently it came to my attention that my son, John Smith, has not been doing well in Math. He has been able to complete and turn in his homework for full points, but quizzes and tests continue to be a challenge. John has struggled in Math for the past few years and we are worried that this year will be more than he can handle.

  • In addition to coming to you for extra help during your office hours, do you have any suggestions on how John can best prepare for the chapter tests?
  • Are there any online resources or other opportunities out there that he could reference?

Thank you in advance for your help. I know you’re busy and we really appreciate your time.

Situation 3: Johnny will be working with a tutor

Recently you and I discussed options for John and we really appreciate your time and ideas. In addition to coming in for extra help, my husband and I have decided to hire a tutor. It will be only once a week and just a drop in the bucket, but it’s a start.

Before our first session with the tutor on Thursday, I’m hoping that you can:

  • Let me know what chapter you’re in (page numbers, if possible)
  • Send me the (approximate) date of the next test
  • Send me any information you think the tutor should know to make the session as efficient as possible. Of particular interest: the types of mistakes John makes on his test and any learning style differences you’ve noticed.

Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you before 4pm on Thursday (when they have their first session!).

There are times when a parent may want to CC the guidance counselor, but only do so if you feel you need to get them involved. They have an even greater caseload than most teachers, so ask for their help only when needed.

Teachers care about their students, and they especially like students who are able to advocate for themselves. Before you hit “send” on an email, ask yourself if your child could ask those questions himself, or if he could ask them with a bit of help from you. Self-advocacy is an important life skill and today could be the day you help him start!

If you are looking for how to find a teacher’s email on blackboard, simply check out our links below :

1. Email | Blackboard Help

https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Student/Original/Interact/Email

Go to Original Course View page. The email tool allows you to send email to other people in your course without launching a separate email program, such as …

2. Email | Blackboard Help

Go to Original Course View page. The email tool allows you to send email to other people in your course without launching a separate email program, such as …

3. Sending Email – Blackboard Student Support – University of …

Select one or more Recipients, and then use the right arrow button to transfer to the name to the Selected column. · Enter a Subject for your email message.

4. Sending Email – USC Blackboard Help

Access Course Tools -> Send Email. · On the Send Email page, click the link for the desired recipient group. A new page appears.

5. Article – Send email in Blackboard – TeamDynamix

Find the email tool for all of your courses through the Tools panel on the My Institution tab. Your instructor can also add a link to the email …

6. How do I view emails that I have sent through Blackboard?

Blackboard does not keep track of any email that you send through the system; it does send a copy of your email to your …

7. How to Send a Message or Email your Students with Blackboard

All Mason students will receive Blackboard emails in their Mason student email … The user must log into Blackboard to view the message.

8. How to Send Email in Blackboard – Instruction @ UH

9. Adding Instructors, TAs, and Course Builders – CUNY

in classes, or the email address from a previous CUNY campus you attended. To verify your email address in Blackboard, on the Blackboard Home tab, find and …

10. Blackboard Frequently Asked Questions: Student Issues

in classes, or the email address from a previous CUNY campus you attended. To verify your email address in Blackboard, on the Blackboard Home tab, find and …

11. Faculty Guide to Blackboard – University of Hartford

Here are the steps for getting started using Blackboard. 1. Get a University email account through Help Desk Services. Go to the Help Desk in.

12. Blackboard Connect / Blackboard Connect – Los Angeles …

The Blackboard Teacher Communications system allows for customized phone, email or text messages to be sent. All permanent and long-term substitute teachers …

As previously discussed in one of my blogs, many ELL students find it challenging to compose an appropriate (i.e., well organized and developed, coherent, polite) email. Below are some simple activities that you can implement in your writing classes to help students develop the skill of email writing.

  1. Students are given several emails. They analyze the ways of closing emails depending on the email addressees.
  2. Students analyze how requests are made in emails of various levels of formality.
  3. Students compare and contrast two emails with the same communicative purpose (e.g., accepting or refusing an invitation) written in a formal and an informal style.
  4. Prepare a list of phrases and a list of communicative purposes of these phrases. Students match the phrases with their purposes (e.g., in two columns).
  5. In a given email, students will find phrases that express the following communicative purposes:
  • To begin the email
  • To state the purpose of the email
  • To ask for information
  • To apologize for a late reply
  • To ask for a reply
  • To invite the addressee to an event
  • To finish the email
  1. Similar to the previous activity, students will identify communicative purposes of the particular phrases from a given email.
  2. In a chart, students classify given phrases into the following categories:
  • Apologizing for a late response
  • Rejecting an invitation
  • Making a request
  • Asking for information

When the chart is completed, students compare the phrases in each category and discuss when each of these phrases can be used (the style of the email, the relationship of the sender and the addressee, etc.)

  1. Prepare a list of stylistic characteristics of a formal or informal email. Give students an email example and ask them to identify these characteristics and provide specific examples from the email. Some of these characteristics might be (in an informal email):
  • Overall friendly tone
  • Use of contractions (e.g., can’t, I’m)
  • Use of colloquial expressions
  • Use of fragmented sentences
  • Use of phrasal verbs
  1. Students divide an email into paragraphs.
  2. Students identify possible addressees for given greetings.
  3. Students identify communicative purpose of given emails.
  4. Students are given a formal email with stylistic violations. They will identify these violations.
  5. Students compose an email that contains stylistic violations, and then they work in pairs to correct these violations in the email written by their classmate.
  6. Students choose the most appropriate way(s) of addressing the following people:
  • A close friend:
    A) Dear Mark! B) Hey Mark! C) Mr. Mark Thompson! D) Hi there!
  • A university professor they know:
    A) Dear Sir, B) Mr. John, C) Dear Professor Smith, D) Dear John,
  • An English female instructor (unmarried):
    A) Dear teacher, B) Dear Ms. Simons, C) Hello Miss! D) Dear Ella,
  • A potential business partner (name, gender unknown):
    A) Dear Sir, B) Dear Mister, C) Hello! D) Dear Sir or Madam,
  1. Students identify the most appropriate concluding phrases for each of the addressees from the previous activity. Some of the concluding phrases might be:
  • Regards,
  • Best,
  • Best wishes,
  • Hugs and kisses,
  • Love,
  • Take care,
  1. Students describe the content of the email from the author’s perspective.
  2. Students describe the content of the email from the addressee’s perspective.
  3. Given a list of conditions and communicative purposes, students compose an email. For example, students may write a formal email to a university professor, apologizing for missing a class and asking to arrange a meeting to discuss the missed assignment.
  4. Students compose two emails (formal and informal) to different addresses with the same communicative purpose and content.
  5. Students are given an outline and a list of phrases for an email. They compose the email, choosing an appropriate addressee and content.

Please feel free to share your ideas for helping students write appropriate emails in English.

Letters of recommendation are almost always a necessary part of the college application process. Sometimes, you’ll need a letter of recommendation even to apply for a scholarship or other opportunity. So, it’s important to not only know who to ask for this all-important letter but also how to ask.

Asking a teacher for a letter of recommendation can be nerve-wracking, especially if you are generally shy or don’t speak with your teachers one-on-one very often. However, as long as you follow a few guidelines and approach respectfully, you will be absolutely fine and have a stellar letter of recommendation for your application.

When thinking about asking for a letter of rec, keep these tips in mind:

Choose the right teacher(s).

Depending on the kind of letter of recommendation you want, you’ll need to ask the appropriate teacher. Generally, you’ll want to choose a teacher who knows you well, has a positive opinion of you, and can highlight your strengths.

Often, the teacher you choose should match the message you want to send in your application. You might choose your biology teacher who you’ve assisted for a year if you’re applying to major in the sciences, for example.

However, sometimes, asking a teacher who can offer a new perspective that isn’t already in your application helps. For instance, if you’ve volunteered for an organization or extracurricular activity that doesn’t show up in your application much, perhaps asking the supervising teacher to write you a letter of recommendation will help highlight that aspect of your personality and skill.

If you ask more than one teacher, try to ask teachers who will provide different perspectives to highlight varying strengths that you have as a student.

Whatever aspect of you that you want to highlight, choose a teacher who knows about that aspect and will write well on the subject. If you don’t speak often with any of your teachers, it might help to establish a relationship by visiting office hours first.

Plan to ask well in advance of the deadline.

No matter who you ask, make sure you plan to ask them well ahead of the deadline. Teachers are busy, and sometimes the process requires them to send in the letter for approval or to mail the letter, in which case you’ll need extra time.

If you approach a teacher and tell them you need a letter of recommendation in the next week, that teacher likely won’t have much time to write you the kind of letter you want. Make sure to be respectful of your teacher’s time and the effort it takes to write a great letter of recommendation.

You should also assume this teacher is already writing a few letters of recommendation, especially closer to college application season. If you can ask well in advance, you’ll get a much better result.

Ask in person.

Though it might be tempting to ask your teacher to write a letter of recommendation for you over email, asking in person is much more respectful and will give you the chance to connect with the teacher more personally.

Your teacher will likely be more willing and excited to write a letter of recommendation for you when you approach respectfully in person rather than impersonally in an email.

If you are asking a past teacher who you cannot ask in person, or cannot ask in person due to Covid-19, consider emailing and asking if you can speak with them on the phone or on video chat.

Approach individually during an appropriate time.

When you do approach a teacher to ask for a letter of recommendation, make sure that you approach alone, rather than asking in a group of other students. Teachers might feel overwhelmed if more than one student is asking for a letter, and you’ll be less likely to get their undivided attention.

In addition, always approach during office hours or another time when a teacher seems to have free time to speak with students. Hopefully, your teacher has given you an idea of when is appropriate to approach them, so respect their time and space accordingly.

Provide all necessary information.

Depending on the application, you might have a list of requirements for any letter of recommendation sent to the institution in question. In that case, make sure that you give your teacher all the information they need to write and send the letter.

Be up front about the institution to which you are applying and what they’re looking for, and answer any questions your teacher may have about the formatting and process.

Be respectful of your teacher’s process.

After you ask for a letter of recommendation, make sure to respect the process your teacher usually follows for writing letters of rec. Chances are, this is not the first letter of recommendation your teacher has written.

Some teachers have a questionnaire they like students to fill out or want to ask you questions about what you expect from the letter. Some do not want you to read the letter, and some might want feedback. Whatever the process they prefer, make sure you follow it in a timely fashion.

Handle any mail-in duties or purchases.

If your teacher needs to mail in your letter of recommendation to a certain office, make sure you provide an addressed envelope with a stamp. Offer to help with any part of the process to make it as easy as possible on the teacher.

Follow up or send a reminder.

Once you’ve asked for the letter and given all necessary information, including the deadline, make sure to follow up with your teacher or send them a reminder. Don’t expect your teacher to keep track of deadlines.

Consider the letter your responsibility and make sure you help your teacher succeed in getting the letter in on time.

Deliver a thank you!

Once the letter of recommendation has been sent, make sure to thank your teacher for their time and work! You can thank them in person, write out a thank-you note, or even get them a small gift as a thanks.

This is especially important because you want to show gratitude for their effort on your behalf and also keep the option open for any further letters in the future. However, as a rule, it’s best not to ask the same teacher for two letters.

As a thank you, make sure to return any favors your teacher might need from you, whether that’s an evaluation, a letter for them, or help in the classroom.

About NSHSS

Since 2002, NSHSS has supported young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. The mission behind NSHSS is to recognize academic excellence and honor high-achieving students, providing them with the resources and network to excel in college, career and community. In doing so, NSHSS connects members with global events, scholarships , college fairs, internships, career and leadership programs , partner discounts, and more. Discover what makes NSHSS worth it to student members and how you can get involved.