Our college students are members of the internet generation. They live with social media, and they use the internet for their source of music and entertainment. However, many of today’s college students do not turn to e-mail as a source of communication. Most students do have an e-mail account, but many don’t check it often. If they want to reach their friends, they text, or tweet, or post on Facebook or some other social media site. In spite of this, most colleges assign students an official e-mail account, and use that account to communicate important information to the student. Encouraging your student to begin to check her college e-mail account frequently will ensure that she doesn’t miss important information.
Here are some important reminders about why it is important for your student to use her college e-mail account.
Schools use e-mail to transmit important information.
More and more colleges are sending students information solely through e-mail. They may post some information on their website, but many schools no longer send information to students via snail mail. When schools send information via e-mail, they send only to their official college e-mail list.
Students are held responsible for information sent via e-mail.
If colleges send information via e-mail – notices, deadlines, names of advisor, etc., they expect students to have the information and be responsible for it. Students who do not check their official e-mail may miss key information and/or deadlines.
College offices and faculty members recognize college e-mail as legitimate.
If your student uses his college e-mail to contact a faculty or staff member, that person will recognize the official e-mail address. Because of concerns about computer viruses, many faculty and staff members will not open e-mails whose addresses they don’t recognize. Something which comes from cutiepie@aol may go directly into the trash. E-mails with odd addresses may not even make it past a university firewall.
Checking a college e-mail account is good practice for the professional world.
In many professions, employees have official business e-mail accounts separate from their personal accounts. They are expected to check it frequently (sometimes constantly) and to use that e-mail for business purposes. Colleges are following that lead. Having your student check and use his official e-mail will instill important habits for his professional life.
Students can reply easily and document conversations.
If a student receives an e-mail from a faculty member, it is easy to hit reply and to respond. Both the student and the faculty member can respond at a convenient time for them. There will also be a documentation of the conversation later. This can be crucial if the student needs to reconfirm the time of an appointment, or remember what the professor said about an assignment, or remind the professor that he agreed to something. A phone conversation may rely solely on memory.
E-mail is a good way to stay connected during the summer.
Although a school may not be sending students a great deal of information over the summer, there may be some important notices. Checking e-mail occasionally will allow the student to stay informed about upcoming deadlines or changing policies.
Some students can forward e-mail to another account.
At some universities, it is possible to forward e-mails from an official account to a personal account that the student already checks frequently. This is preferable to not checking e-mail at all. If your student knows that he simply will not remember to check his official e-mail, he can investigate this possibility. However, it may serve the student better in the long run to establish the habit of checking his school e-mail once each day for important communication. He will solidify a professional habit.
There are exceptions.
Some colleges are beginning to eliminate their official e-mail and use students’ existing e-mail accounts. At this time, this is still an exception to the norm. Students should check their school’s e-mail policies and investigate how the school expects to communicate with the student. It is the student’s responsibility to access the information sent by the college.
As college parents, encouraging your student to use her college e-mail wisely and professionally is another step toward important independence. She will be able to access information, respond when necessary, and she will have a new professional habit instilled.