Monday, October 10, 2011

The Sickest Email of All

Cold season is here! Flu season is very near! Oh, how I dread this time of year!

All right, I promise I won’t rhyme this entire entry, but a girl has to have a little fun. Many of you probably have already had the sniffles, congestion, sore throat, and headache that usually accompany a cold this year. I definitely have. It might keep you off your feet for a day or two, or maybe a few, depending on how severe. Though, very soon you’re back on your feet and ready to hit the books once again (just what you were thinking of doing once you got better, I bet)! You’re proud of yourself, too. You only skipped the classes that gave you free absences, instead of the ones that you’re required to go to every day.

Along you go, on your merry way in the fall! Then, BAM! Like a brick wall, you’re hit directly with the flu... before flu season! You were just about to get a flu shot next week too… Chills, fever, aches, nausea, and everything else rain down upon you in bed and you struggle to keep warm (or cool, depending on what mood the flu is in that hour). You think about your classes this week. In a panic, you realize that, although you have enough freebie absences left to use up for the week, your mandatory classes are coming up. You decide that you don’t feel that bad – you could probably make it through the class, at least. As the week progresses, and your un-missable class draws ever nearer, you begin to feel worse than before. Soon, you are too weak to even leave bed. You think about emailing your professor, but what good would that do? The syllabus says that you can’t miss class for anything.

So what do you do?

Do you email your professor? Do you try to make it to class? Do you just skip anyway?

Never fear! In fact, I was recently in this exact situation. Here’s some advice: don’t be afraid of your professors! They are people too, not bent on making your life miserable. In my crisis, the same as above happened. Too weak to do much of anything productive, and in a fever-induced stupor, I fretted for hours over what I would do about the classes that I couldn’t miss, or what I would be penalized with if I did miss them. I had been sick for over a week and getting worse, and the plan was to try to get a free few days from class to be able to rest, go to the doctor, and go home with my family to take care of me (who doesn’t love his or her mother bringing them hot tea, soup or maybe some sprite when sick?).

What did I do?

I simply emailed the professors of the classes that I was worried about.

Now, before you get too excited, there are some guidelines to the sick email:

Keep it professional:

As with any email to a professor, despite the fact that you’re sick, you need to still be cordial and professional. Just because you’re ill, doesn’t mean you can jumble up words and letters and not use greetings. Trust me, it won’t make you sound more ill, just like you don’t care. Spell out whole words, use correct punctuation and grammar, and employ good sentence structure, please.

Get the right subject:

I’m not talking about the fact that you’re sick – you know this. I’m talking about the subject area in your email. Most professors prefer their students to type the class title in the subject with another short subject after (ex. PSYC 241 – Class Wednesday). Some professors also like you to put the section number in the subject. Professors often teach more than one class; this just helps them prioritize emails and stay organized. It’s nice to help them out.

Greet your professor:

“Dear Professor Smith,” “Dear Dr. Smith,” “Greetings Professor/Dr. Smith,” and so on. I’m sure you’ve heard all the different ways of greeting someone in a letter – use them! Even a simple “Professor Smith,” or “Dr. Smith,” will do (I personally use this one). As long as you greet your professor cordially, your email will start off being well-received.

Explain, but don’t write a novel:

Chances are that your instructor will want to know what will be keeping you from class. It’s a good idea to tell him or her that you are sick, what is wrong, and why exactly it’s keeping you. However, no professor wants to open his or her email from a student and read an entire novella on the woes of the flu and how you are slowly dying in your bed. Don’t be melodramatic. Keep it simple. Usually, I will tell my professor what I have (if I haven’t been to the doctor, what I think I have), give a few major symptoms (usually the ones that will be keeping me from class), inform him or her that I will be missing class, and ask if I will be penalized/how I can make it up. No sob story needed. Most professors will be more than understanding. After all, most have children.

The end:

End on a good note. This you must do! Be sure to thank your professor for his or her time. Close properly (using “Thank you,” as a closing works too). It will be greatly appreciated. If your instructor responds, be sure to email them back, thanking them for responding to you, or responding quickly, if it’s the case, and acknowledging that you received the email.

Following these rules, you’re sure not to offend a professor, but rather get on his or her good side when asking for a day off or explaining an absence. Usually, instructors are more than happy to accommodate serious and polite students.

Happy fall!

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