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April 19, 2005

Worse Practice #1

Cutting off your graduates email addresses!

With graduation right around the corner, this is a timely discussion item.

For ten years I’ve watched universities and colleges around the world unceremoniously cut off a graduates email address within a relatively short time after they crossed the stage to receive their diploma.

So what sense does that make?

Apparently, campus IT departments do not want to carry the burden of customer service and hardware/software cost associated with serving thousands of alumni for the rest of their lives.

Istock__clouds_smallest_5It’s no surprise that while students are on campus they get attached to their email addresses. While students have alternate Yahoo, Hotmail and other addresses they use during their college years, many campuses create a system that requires them to use their campus email address to participate in tools that provide class lectures online, networking opportunities to study with fellow classmates etc.

So if colleges are forcing students to use the assigned email address while they are on campus, why do they so blithely cut their email address off when they leave?

Software tools are available to allow students to use their email address after they graduate. Students would be able to either use their existing campus address supported by a full feature web based email tool, similar to Hotmail, Yahoo and others provide or use it with email forwarding technologies.

It’s easy, it's not that costly, and it seems like a no brainer.

The benefits to your alumni? They’ll use their email address to:

  • Communicate with prospective employers, proving they have a degree and setting themselves apart from others
  • Communicate with fellow alumni and with friends on a casual basis

What do you think? Should students be given the ability to take their email address with them? Does anyone know the economics of why this can’t be done on your campus?

Posted by Don Philabaum on April 19, 2005 at 01:12 PM | Permalink


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We have had great success communicating to current seniors and near-graduates in the classroom about the opportunity to "keep" their UE e-mail address indefinitely. For a one-time $15 fee, their address is kept open for as long as we can foresee (we never say forever!).

The professors often get enthusiastically behind this idea, as well, encouraging seniors who will be out applying for positions or graduate schools that an edu e-mail address will carry much more professionalism and weight than a yahoo or hotmail account. We in the alumni office appreciate it, as well, because our school and Web site receives that much more exposure to those with whom these students come into contact in the "real world." It's a truly win-win situation.

Posted by: Jesika | Apr 26, 2005 10:06:58 AM

I am very interested in allowing our graduates retain their email addresses after graduation. I also would like to extend email for life to our alumni. However, it is difficult to make this a priority with our IT department. They have too many other issues on their plate. I would be interested in hearing how other universities have addressed this issue in a cost-effective manner. Thank you.

Posted by: Joanne | Apr 26, 2005 2:12:06 PM

Coming from the alumni relations side, I feel that it is to an organization's benefit to allow the students to carry their school's email address with them. It keeps them connected to their alma mater and makes them feel like they have support from their school not only during their attendance but after into their future as well. It helps them stay connected which is a huge benefit to the organization in the long-run.

If you are having trouble convincing your IT department the significance and value of this benefit, I would strongly suggest you get your alumni relations department involved. It will help state your case.

Posted by: Bethany Pearson | Apr 26, 2005 6:29:03 PM

It may not be the IT staff you need to convince about the importance and value of the service. Consider the importance of the VP of Finance on your campus and his or her role in allocating and approving resources for strategic investments on campus (I think of email accounts for alumni as a strategic investment).

Posted by: Andy Shaindlin | Apr 26, 2005 11:54:21 PM

I have to agree with Andy. It’s not always the IT staff that you have to convince. You have to convince both Administration and Finance of the value to the student and to the institution. Both parties will benefit.

Being in IT myself, I am concerned with the management of such a system. A system such as Hotmail is needed to help control active accounts. You would need policies in place to deactivate an account if it is not actively used.

I would be curious to know what types of systems are being used at institutions that provide this level of service.

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