Netiquette 101: Emails

Authors: Dr. Marsha S. Lue & Jessica Bortolus

It’s 7:30 AM and you caught the gnarly flu that swept through the college. You make the wise decision to stay home and email your instructors. Tapping away at the keyboard, you are not sure where to begin. What should you put in the subject line? How do you address your instructor? After the title instructor, do you use their first or last name? Where do you even start?

Like most interactions, there is an expected level of etiquette in your emails or as it is frequently referred to: Netiquitte. Shea (n.d.) explained netiquette as “…network etiquette…rules for behaving properly online” (para. 1). When thinking about netiquette and why the rules for online behaviors are necessary, it is important to understand how communication can vary. While in-person verbal communication allows us to explain our “side” of the story through body language, tone and message, online communication can be more difficult to decipher as it relies solely on message. A slightly misworded email can come off as arrogant or angry which may not be the original intent of the sender. Having best practices in place for online communication can help alleviate cumbersome misunderstandings.

Let’s take a closer look at netiquette when emailing your instructors. Wesley College (2008) has many useful tips to keep in mind when contacting your instructors via email:

  1. Subject line summarizes the topic or content of the email in a few words.
  2. Greeting of the email should be professional. Try the phrasing, “Dear Instructor Smith” or “Hello Mr. Johnson” as a greeting unless you are told specifically by your instructor to refer to them by their first names.
  3. State who you are, what your request is, and details about your request early in your email. For example, when you email your instructor to set up a time to meet it will be better to include why you want to meet (i.e., need to go over feedback on a paper, need to ask questions about readings, etc.).
  4. Do not use the greeting, “Hey” because this is informal and unprofessional.
  5. Do not write one large paragraph as it can be hard on the eyes! Smaller paragraphs can help you organize your thoughts. A new thought or point should be a new paragraph.
  6.  Do not use emojis.
  7. Do not use texting abbreviations. Your friends might be fine with “LOL” or “JK” but your instructors do not find it professional.
  8. Do not use all caps as this can be construed as shouting and anger or as excitement. On the flip side, do not use all lower case letters as that is improper grammar and come off as unprofessional.

Below is an example of a proper email:

Sample Email

Sample Professional Email



  • Shea, V. (n.d.). Netiquette. Introduction. Retrieved from:
  • Wesley College. (2008). Wesley College project on social computing: Netiquette guidelines. Retrieved from:
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Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise! Healthy Study Habits as Finals Approach

Author: Dr. Marsha Lue

As finals approach, we wanted to share some healthy study habits with you all. Remember, it is not only about your education that will make your study habits run smoothly; it is also about your physical well-being. Let’s start with the educational side.

Wong (2009) suggested multiple study habits, some of which includes information on notetaking. While it sounds simple, notetaking in class can become daunting. To eliminate some of the anxiety when it comes effective notetaking, one should be an effective listener. You may hear your instructor, but do you really listen? To implement active listening, Wong (2009) listed some key points:

  • Stay active and focused;
  • pay attention;
  • ask questions;
  • keep an open mind; and
  • assimilate information (p. 286).

What this means is that while in class, it is crucial that you remain an active listener so you do not miss out on important information that could very well be covered on a final exam. Some of you may be reading this, thinking, “How am I to accomplish such tasks while trying to take notes?”

Keep in mind the various factors that Wong (2009) outlined which can affect your ability to listen in class.  Some of these factors include:

  • Attitude! Be sure you rid yourself of any negative attitude so it will not adversely affect your ability to learn;
  • Distractions. Be sure that whatever it is you have distracting you from your coursework is “left at the door,” meaning, your only focus in class should be that course content.
  • Personal factors. These may be your comfort level in the classroom (are you physically comfortable?) or where you are seated (p. 288).

A few techniques that you may want to incorporate into your study techniques include understanding your material before you take notes. For example, when you start reading a chapter in your text, you may want to map it out by drawing a visual or highlighting the main concepts and then understand the components to those main concepts. Another suggested technique from Wong (2009) is to annotate important information and consistently do reviews; reading your notes out loud is an effective method to learning material.

The SQ4R method is also recommended.  Wong (2009) explained the SQ4R method as such:

  1. Survey the materials – familiarize yourself with the information;
  2. Question – write out questions about the information;
  3. Read – read the information thoroughly, one part at a time;
  4. Record – take notes on the information that you find crucial;
  5. Recite – talk out loud if you need to and recite the crucial parts. Be sure to check your accuracy; and
  6. Review – immediate and ongoing review of information will help you understand the information thoroughly (pp. 216-218).

Another, all too often forgotten, piece of healthy study habits is physical well-being. As some of you may know, I work out at the gym.  A LOT.  But the reason I work out every day is because it is a great form of stress release for me. While it doesn’t allow me to eat whatever I want, I know that I can have a cheat meal now and again (because who doesn’t like ice cream for breakfast!?). The important part is that I maintain a level of balance.

While trying to achieve your own level of balance during the harried finals week, I would recommend that you specifically set aside some time where you are able to get some physical activity in of some sort. Whether it be a brief 10 minute walk or an intense cardio session (who out there loves burpees as much as me?), the physical movement will help get your brain going.  Some great ideas for physical activity:

  • Yoga
  • Walking/Running
  • Weightlifting
  • Cardio (bosu ball burpees is where it’s at!)
  • Sitting outside to get some fresh air
  • Dancing around the house
  • Snowshoeing (stay tuned for a snowshoe date)

Whatever activity you choose, just be sure it’s one that you enjoy and one that you can make time for, even if it is only 10 minutes a day.

Don’t forget about healthy food options, too! When I sit down to write papers or study, my go-to is to have snacks around the computer. What I try to incorporate is healthy food options so I can snack guilt-free.


Wong, L. (2009). Essential study skills. (6th ed.) Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company.

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Professional Branding

Author: Dr. Marsha Lue

Professional branding. What is it? What does it mean? How is it accomplished? In the simplest terms, professional branding is a reflection of who you are in a workplace or school setting. Your brand, whether intentional or not, develops from your online and in-person interactions. Your interactions on websites, over email, and in social media couples with your interactions in classrooms, workshops, meetings, and other public spaces to build a narrative of who you are. Ideally, your online and in-person presence forms a cohesive narrative that shows you are an emerging leader who would be great to partner with.

A great way to learn about one’s online professional branding is to simply Google search yourself on a public computer. See what comes up. As you move into the professional world (whether it is transferring to a 4-year university or going into the workforce), you may want to start professionally brand yourself.

A few things you could work on to make this transition:

  1. Determine what narrative you would like to build:
    • Think about what makes you unique. What qualities do you bring to the table? How does one shine and in what areas?
    • Think about your strengths. What is it that comes easily to you compared to other tasks?
    • Ask for feedback and opportunities for growth. For example, if you are putting together a webpage for a business, ask for feedback on how you are presented. Be okay with constructive criticism.
  2. Update social media:
    • Make Facebook or any other social media pages private: Do not let friends tag you in unflattering (read: parties with Solo cups) pictures. Reversely, do not upload them.
    • Do not be too political. It is okay to stand up for and support what you believe in, but some companies may not want to be associated with political issues and beliefs.
    • Have fun, but do not be rude or crude.
    • Utilize LinkedIn, which is a social media platform designed to network with professional people, as your primary online professional presence.
  3. Update your email:
    • Create a signature line with your contact information. If you are communicating with someone from an official role (job or club position), list that title too.
    • Add a professional photo to your email, so that when you send an email, the email recipient can see you and get a sense of who you are.
  4. Treat every interaction as a potential connection to a future boss:
    • Practice dressing up in professional attire to become more comfortable. Folks who are uncomfortable in professional clothing are fairly easy to spot and the uncomfortable feeling can impact your confidence.
    • Avoid holding (and, especially, looking at) your phone while engaging in a conversation. This sends the message that you are not interested in the conversation and your phone (and whoever is on the other side of messages) is more important than the person you are with in-person. Note: Emergency situations are an exception to this. In those instances, preface your interaction by sharing that you have an emergency and need to have your phone on hand.
    • Treat everyone with respect. There is a story about someone driving to a job interview when a car cut them off. The interviewee driver yells and honks at the other car. Low and behold, when the person arrived for their interview, the hiring manager for the position was the driver of the car that accidentally cut the interviewee off. Needless to say, the interviewee did not get the job.

Overall, it is important to start shifting your image to one that you can be proud of now. Always be professional with photos, terminology, and interactions and let your unique personality shine. If you have any questions or would like to review your social media presence, please feel free to ask any of the TRIO Advisors for assistance at any time.

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Financial Aid Award Letters

Author: Jessica Bortolus

Registered for fall courses in e-Services? Check. Submitted your FAFSA for the 2018-19 school year using your 2016 tax information? Check. Reviewed and responded to your financial aid award letter? Check, but you are not completely sure what is what and their differences. This is an extremely common point of confusion; we are here to break it down for you. Overall, financial aid can be broken down into three buckets: free money, borrowed money, and earned money.

  • Free money

Free money, as the name implies, is money you do not have to pay back. They usually include grants and scholarships.

There are two primary types of grants: the Minnesota state grant and the Pell grant. By submitting your FAFSA application, you are automatically considered for these grants and are awarded based on income eligibility.

Scholarships are funds awarded by an organization to a student based on the organization’s specified eligibility and the student’s application. Scholarships range from local to international. Usually, the wider the geography and the higher the award amount, the more competitive a scholarship is. Scholarship eligibility be based on a student’s field of study, demographic information, association to an organization (e.g. Lion’s Club, Kiwanis, local unions, etc.), hobbies, leadership positions, volunteering experiences, and/or academic merit.

The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and the Lake Superior College Foundation are two primary organizations that students may be eligible to apply for. Applications are usually due in early spring to be considered for funding. Students can also explore scholarship options by researching opportunities online and in the local community.

  • Borrowed money

Borrowed money is money that must be paid back to lender, usually with interest. Interest is a percentage of the amount of money borrowed that is added to the total amount of money owed to the loan lender. High interest rates can make loans harder to pay off as they add a high amount of money to the total amount a student owes.

The first type of educational loans are direct loans. These loans are offered through Department of Education after a student completes their FAFSA. Theses loans are offered at a fixed interest rate from the federal government. Now, the time the loans starts accruing interest depends on the type of direct loan. With subsidized direct loans, the interest is paid by the federal government until after you are no longer registered for at least six college credits and/or out of school for longer than six months. On the other hand, unsubsidized direct loans begin collecting interest as soon as they are disbursed. Overall, the maximum lifetime amount students may take out in direct loans is $31,000 for dependent students and $57,000 for independent students.

The second type of loan is a Parent PLUS loan. This loan, like a direct loan, is also offered by the Department of Education after a student completes their FAFSA. A Parent PLUS loan is in the parent’s name, not the student’s. Therefore, the parent borrower is legally responsible for repaying the loan. Repayment generally begins after disbursement although the parent may request a deferment of payments until after their child is no longer registered for at least six college credits and/or out of school for longer than six months.

The final type of loan a student may take out is a private loan. Private loans should be an absolute last resort as interests are generally high and require payments almost immediately. Different financial institutions have different private loan packages and will be dependent on the student’s credit score or the credit score of the student’s co-signer (if the student’s credit score is too low).

  • Earned money

Earned money are funds that a student must work in a given position for. While off-campus positions are an option to earn money, income-eligible students may choose to accept federal work study in their award letter. It is important to note that just accepting federal work study does not guarantee a student a position on-campus or a certain number of hours of work. LSC students with federal work study can review posted student employment opportunities and apply following the direction on the LSC Student Employment page. Positions, hours, work schedules and pay will vary.


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