Let me first say that the I am a first semester student studying in North America coming from a very different cultural background, so I get confused as to what would be okay in not just college but also this part of the world. I am reaching towards to the of my first semester one of my professors has really inspired me and I would like to appreciate them. However I am confused if I should just write an email or give little handwritten card/note. Some questions that come to my mind are:

  • Should I give the note to the professor at the end of the last class (would my class mates judge me?) or give it during office hours?

  • I am performing really well in the professors class do I need to wait till the grades are in or is it okay to give it before that?

  • Is it okay to say “I hope I can take another class of yours in the future semesters”

My question might sound silly to ask this but I just don’t want to make the teacher uncomfortable especially since this is the first time for me in college and in such an environment.

  • 2
    A note, after grades are in, is good. Some institutions prohibit faculty from accepting gifts from students, and even if it's permitted it may make the professor uncomfortable. One of the nicest notes I've ever received came from a student after graduation. It began, "Thank you for staying on my back..."
    – Bob Brown
    Apr 7, 2022 at 21:53

3 Answers 3


In the U.S., probably best to not express thanks publicly, unless you are thinking to get others to join in. If you can put a thank-you note in the professor's paper-mail mailbox in their department, that might be optimal. It does demonstrate a bit more effort (and, thus, more non-trivial expression of thanks) than just an email, for example.

But an email thank-you is good, too.

And, yes, probably better to wait until after grades are settled, if there's any potential volatility there. Don't want to create even a hint of conflict-of-interest on any side.

  • 2
    Can also give the note to someone in the department office and ask them to deliver/put it in the mailbox after grades are finalized. This can be helpful if you are leaving for the summer before grades are finalized.
    – StrongBad
    Apr 13, 2018 at 14:33

Please, no gifts! In Germany I am not allowed to accept a gift from students at all. It puts me in a very uncomfortable position, and has happened a few times. I give the gift to the dean, who probably trashes it (unless it is drinkable). A nice postcard in my snail-mail-box would be a lovely way to say thanks.


Any expression of thanks is generally going to be accepted well. As has been noted, you might want to wait until after grades are assigned if you are concerned about potential conflicts-of-interest (or appearance of). But, I don't think you should be too concerned if you are just giving a note or small gift.

However, I would encourage you to give your gift face-to-face if possible. It is especially heartening to hear directly from my students and be able to chat with them about what they enjoyed about the class. This is particularly important if the class was a large one where you didn't have as much opportunity to become well-known to the professor.

Drop by during office hours if possible.

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