memo from the desk of not impressing

If you are wondering, as many are, how to create a strong first impression when you make contact with the instructor who will be teaching one of your courses, you might be interested in the following tutorial. 

Email is always the right option: it’s sleek and elegant, and a subtly nuanced mode of communicating.  You are going to want to make sure your instructor is able to really see your personality and to connect with you as an individual.  For that reason, try to write the way you speak, or, better yet, tha wa u txt.  Capitalization, spelling, and punctuation are but brittle fossils of yesteryear, so don’t follow tradition in this instance: just fire away!

First, you’ll want to address the email to the instructor.  Now once again, we at the desk of Not Impressing must stress that you avoid outdated modes of address, such as "Dear Professor Lastname."  Seriously bo-ring! In fact, why bother looking up the person’s name or rank?  Quick communication is a must; there’s simply no time for research.  Just address yourself to "Proffessor"  (remember, spell-check is so Windows 95).

Then, state your case baldly and with no attention to style, manners, or artifice.  Who wants some kind of pro forma politeness when trying Not To Impress?  Here is an example of what we’re talking about:

I was interested in taking this class in the spring and i was wondering if u had a previous syllabus. Also i would appreciate it if you could tell me the course load (assignments) that are required in this course. honestly, i’m really looking for a lighter load because it’s my last term. It’s greatly appreciated.

Witness how this writer has made only sporadic use of the shift key, leaving the first person pronoun in lower case much of the time and even neglecting to capitalize the first words of some sentences.  What a breezy air it gives! How the prose sparkles on the page!  Don’t you feel refreshed?  Note as well that the writer prefaces the penultimate sentence with "honestly," then proceeds to state that she is looking for an easy grade.  Some might wish to hide this information, preferring to suggest a certain diligence or passion in the subject matter.  Not here, oh no.  The confessional tone followed by an admission of laxity provides an endearing element that would otherwise be lacking.  Now the professor in question will not only be inspired to offer her the information (and the lighter load) she seeks, but will also likely wish to become her friend.  The writer has thus set herself up to have both an easy A and some special treatment throughout the term.  Brilliant.

Finally, an appropriate closing will be required.  Forget closing greetings such as the stale, fussy "sincerely."  The professor already knows how sincere you are, right?  Maybe you’re thinking of signing off with an expression of thanks, such as "thanks," but that should be avoided as well.  Instead, simply type your name immediately after the final sentence of the body of the email.  Who needs their name on a special little line all by itself?  Not you, friend!

If you have followed these instructions, you will have created a winning email:  it will be quick and casual, just like you!  It will evoke feelings of comradeship and sympathy in your instructor, while simultaneously not risking creating an impression of intelligence or diligence.  You wouldn’t want expectations of you to be too high, now, would you?   Of course not.  Stay right there in the middle, just where you belong. 


  1. Just being a subjunctive-using pedant. I figured that kind of thing was par for the course around here. I mean “Grammar” is right there in the title, for Pete’s sake!


  2. It was my policy to delete such emails. I figured that pressing the “delete” key took about as much time as it did for them to write such an email so it was a fair trade.

    When inevitably asked if I received their email, I would simply answer “yep” and leave it at that.


  3. Wasn’t tron complaining at Oedipa? She split an infinitive too, the little minx. I’d’ve said “were” there myself, but I have no clue and I’m far too indolent to look it up.
    Some chick told me you’re not supposed to hyphenate adverbs, and even proved it: Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed., ?6.41. Being the wild man I am, I continue to hyphenate the dirty fuckers anyway, and laugh.

    Besides, it says…

    …when ambiguity is likely, the compound adjective, whatever it’s position, should be hyphenated.

    They make clear (or at least they don’t make not unclear) that adverbs, in “adjectival compounds”, count kinda as adjectives. And ambiguity is, in my considered judgement, always likely. GOTCHA, FUCKERRRRS!


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