Effective Emailing tips for prospective Scholarship seekers
|Dr. Nazmul Huda|
Going abroad for higher studies is the ultimate dream for many students. Most of them complete their graduation with outstanding results and they deserve to secure a fully funded position in many foreign universities.
As I am writing this note from Australia, I will try to point out some important aspects from Australian perspective. In Australia, scholarships are given for Higher Degree by Research (HDR i.e. Masters by research/ PhD). For research higher degrees, the first step is to manage a supervisor with whom the student would like to work and the first step in managing the supervisor is to email the prospective supervisor expressing an interest in researching with him/her. Once supervisor agrees to supervise the student, only then the application will be processed further. From these few introductory sentences, I think you already have guessed the importance of a well written email.
It is very regretful to say, the prospective students spend a lot of time searching for good universities, good research group and above all, a good supervisor. But, many of them do not pay much importance and effort before contacting the supervisor. All your effort of searching and finding a good supervisor with good research background that matches your interest can practically go in vain only because of a badly written email.
In recent years I had the opportunity to go through a number of emails sent to some of the academics of my research group expressing interest for higher studies. But, regretful to say, very few of those passed the initial screening. Some emails were even irritating to read, as those were written in a very informal way.
If you are a prospective scholar, you should show scholarly attire in every step from the very beginning of this prestigious journey. Without proper professional attitude, you may not taste the beauty of this glorious journey for the rest of your life or in some cases it can cause significant delays to achieve your desired goal. So, I couldn’t resist myself to warn my younger fellows/ brother/ future leaders/ scholars to warn about this critically important issue.
Here are some tips that I think will help you in effective emailing. I know these are all “unwritten rules” that you always follow. But it’s always good to have them listed somewhere. These are tailored for students seeking for research scholarships, but these are also applicable in any professional career.
1. Subject line: should be meaningful. NEVER send an email without a subject. ALWAYS stop before sending an email to check whether the subject makes sense.
2. Greeting: It’s always good to add a line of greeting at the beginning of an email. Some common greetings are:
a. Hope this mail finds you well
b. Hope you are doing good/well/fine/great.
c. Greetings from [Location]
Tips: Try something innovative. Don’t make people feel these are the only lines you know.
3. Language: should be easy to understand.
a.Use positive language:
i. For example, if you are requesting for something, use phrases like “Could you please”, “I would highly appreciate it if”, “Will it be possible for you to”…
b.Try to keep your email short and don’t write essays. Nobody has enough time to read essays.
c.Start the email with introducing yourself (who are you, what is your qualification, significant academic achievements, etc.)
d.Use multiple paragraphs. Skip lines before paragraphs. Don’t make a paragraph too long (use 2-3 sentences per paragraph).
e.Informal languages like “thnx for d help.” “lookin frwrd to c u”.. is for chatting with friends, not for formal emailing.
f.Don’t use all CAPITAL LETTERS in any word or sentence. This is RUDE!
4. Attachments: ALWAYS attach all your important documents (especially your CV) in PDF version.
Few other tips:
a.Always rename your attachments with your name and/or initials and a title with indication of what the document says. Never attach documents that have abstract names like “Document1”, “CV”, etc.
i.For example: If your name is Abul Hasan, you could rename your CV as “CV_A_Hasan”
b.How often did you embarrass yourself sending out a mass email saying “attached is a document…..” but forgot to make the attachment? Don’t worry, it’s not only you. We all make this error sometimes.
The tip is: ALWAYS, attach the document(s) first, before writing the email.
c.People won’t open attachments if they aren’t convinced they need to. Mention a few of your key skills and research interest by using bullet points. You should write in the body of the email what the attachment is for. For example:
i. Attached is the resume for your further consideration.
d.Don’t use “Attached herewith”. Just say “attached is a [document, excel sheet, etc.]
e.For multiple attachments: If you have multiple attachments, use numbered items to describe what each document is for:
i.For example: “Attached are 3 documents: (then enumerate the titles of the attachments like below. It’s better to give the list according to the attachment order)
2.Bachelor of Engineering transcript
3.Bachelor of Engineering Certificate
5. Closing: I know that you always do it – but just as a part of this article, I must add that it is good to use a nice ending for the mail, like: “Best regards, Kind Regards, Regards, Thank you”, etc.
6. Last thing: Few signs of professionalism:
a. Spell check and grammar check: We often make typos, especially when writing quickly. Although spell-check will not catch every mistake, it’s always good to do spell-check before sending out an email: a sign of professionalism
b.Proofread: Always proofread before sending out an email. If you are not very confident with your English, you should seek help from an expert English user – even if it requires you to pay some money.
c.Before clicking the Send button: Before you send out, ask the following questions:
i.Have I clarified purpose and actions?
ii.Have I included supporting documents and written a clear Subject line?
iii.Did I write the message clearly enough that it does not come back to me with questions?
iv. Am I sending the message to the correct recipient(s)?
v.Have I run the spelling checker and edited the message for grammar and jargon?
vi.How is the tone of the message? Is it gentle enough or too rude?
Remember: emails can be used as legal proofs. Make sure your email does not end you up in
trouble or ruin your long cherished dream in vain.
d.Respond promptly: if you get a response of your email, make sure that you address it promptly, but very carefully. Most often, the prospective students will be asked for further documents. In that case, take your time and carefully attend to all queries. If you need time to supply all the asked documents, it is always better to send a gentle reply informing about the possible delay.
Finally, keep in mind that a very well organized, well written, grammatically correct email can make your long cherished desire come true.
Remember that as a prospective International HDR student, you are initially screened by your email. Most academics would rely on the email correspondence with you to judge your language proficiency, vocabulary, international exposure, professionalism and above all, your competency as a prospective student. If you want to convince your supervisor, there is no alternative to writing a perfect email.
All the best and wish you good luck for your future endeavours
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