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Sample Emails

Some of these emails reflect the special circumstances of the pandemic; they are included because they demonstrate excellence in communicating with faculty. We hope you can learn from their approaches, while hoping you don’t ever have to deal with these particular challenges.



Subject Line: Requesting a Meeting for Study Advice

Hello Professor (Name),

I hope you are doing well. I’m writing to you because this first week of class was a huge struggle for me. I felt like I had a good grasp of the concepts going into class, but when it came to doing the problem sets, I struggled. In general, it’s very difficult for me to collaborate with my peers, especially during remote study sessions, and it’s starting to take a bigger toll on me than I had anticipated. 

This past week I’ve put in around 10 hours of work outside of class on the problem set, and I am still not done. I wanted to let you know that I’m still working on my problem set that is due today. I will turn in the problem set by sometime tomorrow, and I totally understand that there is a late penalty. 

I’m writing because I struggle to understand things so much when they’re explained to me over Zoom. I know that this is something I’m going to have to get used to, but it’s been an extremely difficult transition for me. I was wondering if we could schedule an in-person meeting so that you could recommend strategies to me to adapt to college and remote learning. Thank you in advance.

Kind regards,

(Student Name)




Subject Line: Extension Policy Clarification

Greetings Professor (Name),

I apologize for not reaching out to you sooner! I have been falling behind this week with my work, and I haven’t written a reader response for today's class readings yet. 

I was unsure from the syllabus if you accepted late reader responses. I found in the syllabus that there will be 5% of a grade lost for every day an assignment is late. I wasn't sure if this was only for big project assignments, or for the weekly responses as well.

Would you still accept a response from me if I turned it in by 8 a.m. tomorrow (Friday)?

Thank you so much, and I will see you in class later today.

(Student Name)




Subject Line: Meet to Go Over Exam 1

Hello Professor (Name),

I was pretty disappointed with my Exam 1 grade.  I would like to go over the exam with you at some point, and strategize for the next one. Thank you for mentioning in class today that you are willing to meet with us. 

I feel like I am putting a lot of effort into problem sets (and probably too much time). Each problem takes me about an hour, and I already try to go to photon sessions whenever possible. I am wondering how best to spend my time with the physics material to get the most out of it, and to prepare well for the exams. I am also struggling with figuring out how much time and effort to put into my other classes as well. 

Thank you for your understanding,

(Student Name)




Subject Line: Recommendation Request for Goldwater Scholarship

Professor (Name),

I hope you are doing well and are enjoying the break!

I have decided to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship this year. The scholarship requires three letters of recommendation, and I was wondering if you would be willing to write one for me? The deadline for submitting them is in four weeks, January 19th. 

Although it’s been more than a year since you taught me, I have realized that my connection with professors at Swarthmore has been limited due to the last two semesters being virtual. I am finding that the professors who taught me on campus, even some time ago, know me better as an individual. I feel like I have improved much more as a student and as an academic thinker since your course, though, so I would be glad to meet with you to update you, and I also would understand if you feel you are not the best person to write this letter.

Let me know either way. Thank you so much for considering this!


(Student Name)