Email is an important tool for everyone these days. Most people know how to send and read emails, but email etiquette is an important skill that, if developed properly throughout college, can be advantageous throughout life. While in college, especially, email is a vital communication tool that can keep you in the loop and can give you a route by which to talk to people you otherwise wouldn’t be able to speak with. Here are some tips to maximize how email can help you as a pre-med, and how you can make email “your best friend”:

Utilize mailing lists.

Your department’s counselor will have a mailing list. You should get on it. If you don’t know about it, check on your department’s website for instructions on how to sign up for it. If you’re still not sure, email your counselor or walk into their office and ask about it. Groups (both on and off campus) send information to counselors because they know counselors disperse that information to all of their students via their mailing lists. You’ll get updates on such things as club meetings, health profession mixers, medical school information sessions, research and volunteer opportunities, and tutoring sessions. You might also get a lot of mail you don’t necessarily find relevant to you, but that’s the trade-off. If you can deal with that mail and just delete what you don’t want, mailing lists are a great resource.

Make your signature professional.

An email signature isn’t necessary, especially as a premed. If you want one, however, make sure to keep it short and simple. People don’t want to read a long signature every time they receive an email from you.

Use etiquette when opening and closing your messages.

When you’re emailing a professor, boss, doctor, or any other faculty member or person of authority, don’t email them as if you’re emailing a friend. Writing “Hey” is not a good start to that email asking if there are any opportunities for an undergraduate  researcher in a lab. “Dear Dr. ______” is a lot safer and more respectful, and you really can’t go wrong with it. Closing the email isn’t too difficult either, as a simple “Thanks,” “Sincerely,” or “Regards” can do the trick.

Check your email often, and respond promptly.

It’s important to remember that many applications are time-sensitive. Getting your foot in the door is a great step, but if you send an inquiry or application via email and then don’t respond for a week, you might lose out on whatever chance you had. Even though it might be frustrating if you don’t receive an email back right away, you’ll be glad you checked it once you get your reply and you’re able to give a prompt response.