Posted in HS4CC

Dual Enrollment = Email Etiquette

“In the age of social media, many students approach emailing similar to texting and other forms of digital communication, where the crucial conventions are brevity and informality. But most college teachers consider emails closer to letters than to text messages. This style of writing calls for more formality.”

-Paul T. Corrigan and Cameron Hunt McNabb

If a student is dual enrolled through your local community college or private college, they’ll usually be given an official college email address.  Besides being really cool, it is often the required form of communication between the student and the college, especially with their teachers or advisors.


I sincerely urge you to keep your teen’s login information, and in addition to encouraging them to check their email daily, that you also check it on occasion.  We nearly missed an important deadline for an internship one summer because my son wasn’t taking classes and didn’t think to check his email during the break.

Hint:  Though it is likely that the college will assign a username or email address, should your teen have the ability to pick their own, be sure it’s very professional and closely matched to their name and not quirky or fun. is a good example.


Assume that all email sent inside the college system is not private and part of your student’s permanent record (archives). This includes any and all exchanges between your student and their professor, advisor, financial aid office, other faculty, and other classmates.  Your college will have a written email privacy policy.  You may want to look at it, but you’ll have to agree to it in order to enroll.

One other point, this section should expand to include students logging into a class through Blackboard, Moodle, or their college’s learning platform.

Here’s an example of a typical college email privacy policy:

Technology resources include (but are not necessarily limited to) computers, software, networks, Internet access, telephones, voice mail, printers, scanners, copiers, and electronic (e-mail) services. This policy applies to all users of technology resources provided by the College. Compliance is mandatory. Compliance is critical to the security and integrity of technology resources.

Use of College technology resources shall be in compliance with local, state, and federal law. Use of College technology resources shall comply with any contractual or professional obligations of the College. All users are responsible for using technology resources in an efficient, responsible, considerate, ethical, and lawful manner. Any information distributed by a user must accurately identify the creator, distributor, and recipient of that information.

Access to technology resources is a privilege rather than a right. Access may be withdrawn from those who use it inappropriately or irresponsibly. Users who violate any of the technology resource policies may be subject to disciplinary action and/or legal action.

Your student can be expelled or subject to legal action if the college uncovers what they consider inappropriate use of their technology.  I strongly urge you to discuss this with your teen in advance and only use their college email for the most specific types of communication – college related.  Your teen should never cc their classmates for private and personal communication (fundraisers, prayer requests, social events, etc.)

Here are examples of what a college may consider inappropriate:

  • Harassment
  • Libel or slander
  • Fraud or misrepresentation
  • Destruction of or damage to equipment, software, or data belonging to the College
  • Unauthorized access to electronically stored information
  • Infringement of copyrights, trademarks, or the rights of others
  • Use of the College logo without prior approval
  • Violation of computer system security
  • Unauthorized use of access codes assigned to others
  • Use of technology resources for commercial business purposes
  • Academic dishonesty
  • Violation of software license agreements
  • Violation of network usage policies and regulations
  • Violation of privacy
  • Accessing pornographic, sexually explicit, or offensive material
  • Accessing material that is contrary to the mission of the College
  • Intentional distribution of computer viruses, Trojan horses, timebombs, etc.
  • Use of e-mail for unsolicited mass mailings (spamming)



Inside Higher Ed published an open letter to college students written by two professors.  Their intent was to help students master the email etiquette expected of college students, and while their letter was for adult students, most of their advice holds true for our dual enrolled students too.

Paul T. Corrigan and Cameron Hunt McNabb are university professors of English, and offer students these 5 suggestions:

1. Use a clear subject line. The subject “Rhetorical Analysis Essay” would work a bit better than “heeeeelp!” (and much better than the unforgivable blank subject line).

“True story- my son once sent his Computers instructor an entire email message by accidently typing it into the subject line!  Oops!”

2. Use a salutation and signature. Instead of jumping right into your message or saying “hey,” begin with a greeting like “Hello” or “Good afternoon,” and then address your professor by appropriate title and last name, such as “Prof. Xavier” or “Dr. Octavius.” “Professor” is usually a safe bet for addressing a college teacher.  Similarly, instead of concluding with “Sent from my iPhone” or nothing at all, include a signature, such as “Best” or “Sincerely,” followed by your name.

Don’t make the teacher do unnecessary steps – include your full first and last name as well as the name of the course and section number if applicable.

3. Use standard punctuation, capitalization, spelling and grammar. Instead of writing “idk what 2 rite about in my paper can you help??” try something more like, “I am writing to ask about the topics you suggested in class yesterday.”

4. Do your part in solving what you need to solve. If you email to ask something you could look up yourself, you risk presenting yourself as less resourceful than you ought to be. But if you mention that you’ve already checked the syllabus, asked classmates and looked through old emails from the professor, then you present yourself as responsible and taking initiative. So, instead of asking, “What’s our homework for tonight?” you might write, “I looked through the syllabus and course website for this weekend’s assigned homework, but unfortunately, I am unable to locate it.”

5. Be aware of concerns about entitlement. Rightly or wrongly, many professors feel that students “these days” have too strong a sense of entitlement. If you appear to demand help, shrug off absences or assume late work will be accepted without penalty because you have a good reason, your professors may see you as irresponsible or presumptuous. Even if it is true that “the printer wasn’t printing” and you “really need an A in this class,” your email will be more effective if you to take responsibility: “I didn’t plan ahead well enough, and I accept whatever policies you have for late work.”

email blocks on gray surface
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on




Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit