A Question and a Fact

Question: Would you email your English professor without using proper capitalization, punctuation, or spelling? Would you write “Dear Dr. Lastname,” “Dr. Lastname,” “Mrs. Lastname,” “Miss Firstname,” or simply “hey”? What would you do?

Fact: The worst part of applying for jobs is the fantasizing.  What would it be like if I lived there? Which courses would I teach? I think I’ll just do a little quick google image search to eye the landscape, or look at the map to see how far away they are from the nearest Ikea.  Is there a Trader Joe’s in their town? How often does it snow? What’s the rent like? Oh, now I have gone too far. Fact.


  1. Question: No
    Fact: Me too.

    Since I only work with international students, though, I am lucky most of the time if the email is decipherable, so I generally overlook punctuation and spelling mistakes (for example, there is one student who consistently emails me as Clalire even though my name is RIGHT THERE, in my signature). Of course, they are international GRAD students, so perhaps I should be holding them to higher standards.


  2. Question: “Dear Professor Lastname,” works till I am on a first name, and friendly, basis with them.

    Fact: What’s worse is when you fantasize about how life in a tiny, middle-of-nowhere town “won’t be that bad,” or you say to yourself, “I’ll only need to work there for three years for the experience.”


  3. Re the Question, that is because you guys are both smart, sane, and polite!

    Re the Fact, I’m glad I’m not the only one afflicted with the partial psychosis that comes with being on the job market this year! Oh, did I say “psychosis”? I meant “optimism.” Yeah, OPTIMISM!

    Good luck to you, C (and by extension to Philly) and S!


  4. I always address professors as Dr. This or Prof. That until I was told, “Please, call me Millicent,” or unless we were on a friendly basis, and even in those situations, I never addressed them by their first name in front of younger students (in class or lab)unless he or she allowed those students to do so. Or if I got an eyeroll or funny look.


  5. I do the same thing!! I don’t think it’s a bad thing – we’re acquainting ourselves with the new geography, assessing the pro’s and con’s of the new location, and all the possibilities that would be options if we started the new job.

    It’s nothing our parents wouldn’t have done if they had the internet.


  6. R – Good strategy. I have totally different expectations for what my students call me vs, say grad students (whom I don’t teach ever) or colleagues. But I have a story about that for another time!

    MC – That’s true. I just know I’m letting myself get too excited about things that have (literally) a 1/400 chance of working out.


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