Entries in higher education (2)


Why are colleges still in the email business?

This might be news to those of you born after 1985: once upon a time, the only way to get an email account was through your university or work. I got my first email address in 1992 when I was a freshman in college (remember Pine?), and until services like AOL and CompuServe became widely available and adopted, work or school was the source of your email account. I've had a .edu account ever since then, although with the rise of Hotmail, Yahoo!, and now the king of them all, Gmail, clearly email is accessible to everyone. So why is it that colleges still give students email accounts when they arrive on campus? They all already have accounts on their preferred platforms. Why not follow Boston College's lead and stop hosting email? Instead, @bc.edu email address simply forward to students' existing accounts. This simpifies students' lives since there's one less account to check (how many students are simply forwarding their college email to their other accounts already?) and gets colleges out of the business of administering email accounts.

I'm also ready to be in control of my own data; I don't want to trust a school or employer with my email any more. After learning that a friend lost all of his achived email after he was unexpectedly terminated by his employer (they shut off his email just as they were delivering his pink slip, so he never had a chance to recover his data; how uncool is that? This is actually the second time I've heard about this happening in the last couple of months at different institutions), I want to be the keeper of my own email. Not that I'm planning on getting canned anytime soon, but I suppose stranger things have happened. I'll let you know how my migration to a Google Apps account goes...

Update: see here...


My response to "Why Should Professors Not Be Accountable?"

I'm not usually the sort of person to comment on stuff I read on the interwebs, but this letter to the editor on The Chronicle of Higher Education stirred me enough to respond...