We strongly encourage prospective students to consider any communication to an optometry program as a serious and professional form of communication requiring a more formal tone. Given below are examples of suggested etiquette for professional communications.
Email Etiquette, Our “Top 20” List
Email is a very convenient way to communicate with our program and we are happy to respond to inquiries within 12 to 24 hours, Monday through Friday. Here is our Top 20 email tips:
- Use an appropriate and professional email address (e.g., john_doe[at]gmail.com).
- Include a salutation (Dear John; Hi, John; John; Greetings). Although some people omit a salutation, an email message could sound unfriendly and curt without it.
- Email one program individually; avoid spamming multiple programs at the same time with the same question.
- Include your first and last name, undergraduate institution or organization and [anticipated] year of graduation. A closing remark (All the best, Cheers, Sincerely) would make your email message more polite.
- Use standard caps and lower case characters. Do not use all upper case or all lower case characters. Using all upper case sounds as though you are shouting. Upper case for emphasis can be used, but using bold or underline may carry a gentler tone.
- Write clear and concise sentences.
- Use appropriate and accurate subject lines. When the topic changes, change the subject line as well.
- Write messages with correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Pay attention to the tone of the message to make sure your message does not sound curt, demanding, condescending, negative, or hostile. The tone of a message conveys a nonverbal message.
- Be cautious about humor or sarcasm. Since you cannot use your facial expressions and other nonverbal cues, humor and sarcasm may be misunderstood.
- Don’t automatically reply to the sender’s message. Delete the old thread or cut and paste relevant parts. Avoid sending entire threads back and forth.
- Get permission before forwarding. Sometimes people may not want their emails to be forwarded to others without being asked first or posted to another source such as studentdoctor.net.
- Acknowledge receipt. When someone answered your question or accommodated your request, it is polite to say thank you.
- Cover just one topic in an email message. If you are presenting more than 2-3 points, use bullets or numbers to make it easier to read.
- Avoid chat-language/text speak such as emoticons, improper short-hand (rite-right, thru/through, u/you, r/are, plz/please) and acronyms (LOL) for professional emails.
- Plan ahead when asking for course approval and you need to register for the course. If you want our office to review equivalency content of a specific class, and to be sure it meets our criteria as a prerequisite course, please cut and paste the course name, number, description, units, lab information (if applicable) and the institution name, and include this information in your email to us.
- Proofread your message. Ensure it is written to the correct program, correct spelling and grammar (e.g., UC Berkeley School of Optometry vs. UC College of Optometry). Our formal name is UC Berkeley School of Optometry; however, it is okay to address us in our less-formal name, Berkeley Optometry.
- Make sure you are not asking questions that are easily answered by reviewing a program’s website.
- Avoid entering the recipient’s email address in the “To:” box until you are finished composing, editing and proofreading the text. Add it last to avoid accidentally sending a half-composed message.
- Don’t send emails after 10pm. If you wouldn’t call someone after 10pm to conduct business, the same holds true for email. Sending message of a professional tone can seem haphazard when sent late at night.
- Refrain from using emoticons.
Examples of Poor Email Etiquette
“hi, i want to get into your program. what do i need to do to get in. also, im registering for classes tmrrw and need to know what to take. plz get back to me asap.”
“I would like to make an appointment for tomorrow at the earliest slot possible. Thanks.”
“Hi i am at a Jr.college right now and have completed my Eng 1a and 1d. I see you require Eng 1b. So if i get my BA and apply for admission would you shoot me down because i do not have Eng 1B done?”
Examples of Professional Email Etiquette
Hello Berkeley Optometry,
“I am interested in applying to your program. After reviewing your website, I would like to meet with an advisor to ask additional questions about applying. Do you have any openings next week?
College of Life
Class of 2012”
“Dear UC Berkeley School of Optometry,
I will be registering for classes next month and would like to find out if ABC 123 will fulfill one term of the Biology prerequisite. I have listed the course description below:
College of Life
ABC 123: Biology
Fundamentals about general biology topics. Lecture: 2 hours/week. Lab: 2 hours/week.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your reply.
College of Life
Class of 2012”
We always appreciate phone calls! Below are helpful tips to facilitate an effective conversation with optometry schools. If you leave a message with Berkeley Optometry that includes a call back number, we will return your phone call within 12 to 24 hours, Monday through Friday.
- Research each program thoroughly prior to calling with a question. Most websites are comprehensive; the answer may be available at your fingertips.
- Prepare your question ahead of time to be clear and articulate. In addition, if you need a timely response, plan ahead; for instance, avoid calling the night before your registration deadline.
- Consider making an advising appointment if the question requires a conversation rather than a quick phone call.
- Introduce yourself. Include your name, institution, and [anticipated] year of graduation.
- Avoid using a demanding tone of voice.
- If you leave a message, speak slowly and clearly. Leave your name, institution, brief question, and call back number. When leaving a phone number, repeat the number slowly at least once. Ensure that your voice message is appropriate.
Example of appropriate voice message:
“Hi, my name is Jane Doe and I am interested in Berkeley Optometry. I attend College of Life and expect to graduate in June 2012. I reviewed your website and would like to schedule an advising session to help answer questions specific to my situation. You can reach me on my cell phone at (1-2-3) 4-5-6-7-8-9-0. Again, my number is (1-2-3) 4-5-6-7-8-9-0. Thank you, and I look forward to your phone call!”
We are more than happy to schedule an advising appointment in person or over the phone. Many times this is the first time you will be visiting a program or formally conversing over the phone. First impressions can impact a program’s view of your candidacy for the school or program, so do your best to create a polished and professional interaction!
- Thoroughly research the program prior to your advising session. Spend time on their website to become familiar with their admissions requirements and process.
- Craft specific questions ahead of time. Writing them down is helpful.
- If attending an advising appointment in person, dress appropriately. Business casual is strongly suggested (e.g., slacks or skirt, collared shirt or blouse, closed-toed shoes).
- Come prepared with your unofficial transcript. It is helpful for the adviser to refer to a transcript to provide appropriate guidance according to grades and coursework.
- Please inform the Admissions Office if you will be bringing a guest (e.g., significant other or parent/guardian). Guests are welcome to tour the facilities with you; however, the advising session is meant to be with you, the prospective student to a professional program, only. We understand that parents, guardians and significant others are influential in your life decisions. The expectation in professional school, however, is that many decisions will be made by you about your future career, not by your parents, guardians, or significant others. Take time and initiative to research programs and ask thoughtful questions as they relate to your needs. We want to hear from our prospective students directly!
If you have been accepted to more than one optometry program, you are in the privileged position of choosing between or among programs. Take time to thoughtfully consider your options, ask questions of the admissions offices and do your due diligence to be sure you pick the program that is ultimately the best fit for you; however, avoid holding seats at multiple institutions. While we recognize that Schools and Colleges of Optometry have different notification periods and deposit deadlines, be sure that once you have sincerely committed to attend a program that you respectfully decline all other offers promptly and courteously. It is considered unethical to hold acceptances at multiple schools or colleges for an extended period of time because you are potentially filling the seat of a candidate on the waitlist and each program depends on filling their incoming class. In addition, it is quite possible that you will have an opportunity to attend the program in the future for research purposes or Residency; you want to ensure you maintain a positive relationship to keep the door open for any and all opportunities.