There are many times when you will need to ask for an appointment with your professor. If you are new to college, or have not had to do this yet, it may seem like an intimidating task at first.
The main things to keep in mind when asking for an appointment with your professor are to be polite and professional and keep his or her schedule and preferred methods of communication in mind.
Asking Your Professor for an Appointment
Review your syllabus for specific instructions, send a polite and concise email, and/or ask respectfully before or after class. Always be mindful of your professor’s time, be courteous, and be specific about the topic and the meeting time and place.
First, Review Your Syllabus
You may or may not have been paying attention when the syllabus was first reviewed or shared, but there is a good chance that the professor had specific instructions for how he or she would prefer you set up an appointment with them.
The professor may have listed not only their email, but also specifically how they would like to be contacted and when they are usually available.
Professor Office Hours
Also listed within the syllabus is usually the professor’s office hours. It is usually okay to “drop in” during the professor’s office hours, though it shows respect and professionalism to send an email first to request to meet with the professor at a specific time during their office hours.
The professor might have other commitments and so might not be at every single office hours. If you email first, the professor can either let you know that they will not be at their office during that particular office hour and make other arrangements with you, or he or she might decide to come to that office hour instead of their other plans.
Another possibility is that the professor might be very busy with many students waiting to see them during their office hours. If you were one of the students who had the courtesy to email beforehand, there is a chance the professor might prioritize seeing you over the many other students waiting to see them.
How to Email Your Professor
Though some professors may be very casual, it is always a good idea to be very respectful and professional when emailing your professor. Also, it is extremely important to remember that your professor might be exceedingly busy, and for this reason, keep your email as concise and easy-to-read as possible.
Your subject line should generally include the class and day/time you attend, and that you are requesting a meeting. (Again, check your syllabus in case your professor has a different specific format he or she would like you to follow.)
Address the professor as Professor followed by their last name and then a comma, unless they request otherwise.
Next, make your request in one to three sentences. These should include your polite request to meet with the professor and the topic or question you would like to discuss during the meeting.
You could also very briefly share your availability to avoid a lot of back and forth communication.
Ask about the location to avoid any miscommunication. (You wouldn’t want to plan to meet them at their classroom if the professor was planning to meet you at their office instead.)
Be sure to thank your professor and sign the email respectfully. Underneath your name, as an email signature, it doesn’t hurt to include your phone number in case the professor needs to reach you quickly (such as a last minute reschedule) and your student ID.
Some students may also include their major in their email signature, as well.
Example Email to Professor
Here is a good example of how to write a respectful and concise email to your professor, as described above.
Subject Line: Physics 1 M/W 10:00 a.m., Meeting Request
Good Afternoon Professor Berkeley,
Could we please meet to discuss the mid-term assignment to clarify a few questions I have? I am available every day after 2:00 p.m. Please let me know what time and place would work best for you.
Thank you in advance.
Student ID: 00110011
Speaking to Your Professor Before, During, or After Class
If you choose to ask in person rather than by email for a meeting with your professor, you should again be very respectful of his or her time.
Don’t ask during class time. Instead, raise your hand or go up to the professor politely before or immediately after class and ask the professor if he or she has a moment to talk, then respectfully make your request.
Ask for an Appointment with Your Professor
Review the syllabus for any instructions, send a respectful and brief email, or ask politely before or after class. Always be respectful, and be aware of your professor’s time constraints, and also be specific about the meeting topic, time, and place.