My favorite NYT reporter, Jonathan Glater, has a great article about student emails. I've received some doozies, and I'd guess as many as one in five qualifies as unprofessional in style or content.
Still, I'm awfully glad that students feel free to email me. In my Deals class, rather than talk about judicial opinions, I teach them how to analyze transactions in terms of information problems and behavior problems, and we discuss a range of contractual solutions. Lately, I've received a number of emails from current and past Deals students passing along newspaper articles that they think will interest me. Nine times out of ten I've already read the story. But the emails show that not only do they understand what the course is about, they find it interesting enough to think about outside of class. And it means they will likely still remember some of it when they are in practice. I care about that much more than I care whether they remember how to price a call option. Forwarding a newspaper story isn't the sort of interaction likely to occur in person. Some profs probably find it annoying. But those emails make me that much more excited to get in the classroom, which in turn surely improves their experience. So I say: long live student-prof email.
Snarky, unprofessional blog commentators: Now that's something I could live without.
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