In this age of technology, we are are virtually connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And while this level of connection can provide many opportunities—from getting in touch with loved ones, to paying your monthly bills online—there are a number of challenges that also arise.
We’re talking about sending and receiving emails within seconds. Seems completely harmless, right? Not always. And although it’s great to demonstrate the value of responding in a timely fashion, it’s also important to review proper etiquette with your children before they venture off to college. After all, it’s likely that your children will communicate with their instructors via email on a weekly—perhaps even daily—basis throughout their college career.
When it comes to communicating with college staff and faculty, there are several factors to consider before hitting “send.” Here are some tips on email etiquette for high school students.
Once the email is sent, you can’t take it back.
Students need to understand that once they send an email, they can’t take it back. Encourage good habits by practicing email etiquette with your children. For example, have them draft a couple of emails that you can print and review. Whether they need to work on becoming more clear and concise, or they need to check their tone, spelling, or grammar, you can highlight these areas and discuss them together. Often we make small mistakes without realizing it. Helping your child identify potential errors can lead to writing more effective emails in the future.
Always be clear and concise.
Since we can send and receive emails at the click of a mouse or a swipe of the finger, chances are your children’s instructors are sorting through more emails than they can handle. Be sure the emails address the assignment or question immediately. If it’s a more elaborate request or question that your child may have, encourage him or her to talk with the professor after class or during office hours. Skipping the email for a face-to-face interaction will help mitigate possible confusion and perhaps even get more out of the instructor’s response.
Remember that email is not social media.
We can all agree that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are platforms used for more casual conversation. However, with email, your child should avoid slang, hashtags, and emoticons, and the tone should be appropriate for the recipient. Reinforce that there’s a time and a place for everything, and email and social media are different forums for communicating.
Don’t use email for anything that has already been covered.
If the specifications of an assignment or course expectations have been covered in class (or in the course-description handout), then your child should refrain from emailing his or her instructor on that subject. If your child needs clarification on an assignment or wants to address his or her grade, encourage scheduling an appointment with the instructor outside of class. This will also help demonstrate that your child is responsible and taking the class seriously.
Pay attention to detail.
In written communication with professors and college staff, nothing is more important than proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, tone, and the ability to write in complete sentences. And while an email may not be weighed as heavily as a term paper, it’s important to remember that an email reflects the sender and makes an impression on the reader. Be sure that your child proofreads every email before he or she hits send, and don’t forget the handy spellcheck tool for quality assurance.