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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Recollection of my first lesson at HKUST!!!

This was my first lesson at HKUST. Learnt from a professor whose class I exempted from. But before I got the exemption, my letter requesting for exemption got a sharp response back within minutes. Why???

My first line was "Hi James". Which unfortunately was his last name. With the other name being Lancelot, How was I supposed to know? And in addition, he wanted to be addressed as Prof. Lancelot James or Prof. James. Coming from a US company culture (In INFY and GAP), this was  a new one for me.

Here are some rules which you might want to follow in your back to school time.

  • As a rule of thumb, always address your professor formally, as Dr. X or Professor Y. If they invite you to address them by their first name, then use it. But it's polite to always assume the professor wants to be addressed formally, unless they tell you otherwise.
  • Consider the norms at your school. At some conservative schools, students never call professors by their first names. At some liberal arts colleges, it's the norm to address everyone informally. Ma'am and Sir might be appropriate as well, depending on where your school is, and manners never hurt..
  • Don't call professors Mr. or Mrs. This is a high school convention, not a college one. Your professor might feel disrespected if you refer to him or her by this less prestigious title. Also, many female college professors are liberal and do not like to be called Mrs.
  • Never assume it's okay to use a first name. Sometimes students assume it's okay to be informal if the professor is young, or female, or a minority, or nice, or whatever. This is not polite.
  • Call your professor somethingStudents sometimes feel so uncomfortable that they speak to their professors without using a name at all. This is pretty impersonal. Remember, if you're unsure, just use "professor."
  • This goes for emails too. Emails to a professor are a formal correspondence, and you should use good email etiquette and be as polite to your professor as you would be in the classroom. Unless your professor has invited you to use his or her first name, begin the email with, "Dear Professor X."
  • Don't be afraid to ask. You can always ask the professor how he or she would like to be addressed. Just ask politely.
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