Which emails students read—and which ones they ignore

72% treat student organization emails as spam

College students tend to read some types of school emails but avoid others, according to a new paper from researchers at Bowling Green State University.

An April survey of 315 students in a range of majors revealed several things about their email, social media, and texting behaviors. Specifically, researchers found that using email to contact students about important issues could result in a "disconnect."

Email is not without its uses, however. Eighty-five percent of respondents reported checking their email daily and being very likely to read any emails sent by professors. Just 11% report avoiding those emails by sometimes, rarely, or never opening them.

However, 72% of respondents say they treat student organization emails as spam, 54% don't always read emails from the university or academic departments, and 39% said they don’t always open academic advisors' emails. 

Schools can get around this by asking freshmen during orientation to "like" or "follow" official social media accounts run by academic advisors, says lead researcher Louisa Ha. Then advisors can update these dedicated advising pages. Texting may be useful to communicate urgent and personal messages, Ha adds.

Students don't read your emails, but they're constantly checking their phones. Here's how to meet them where they are

The survey discovered students largely fall into one of two groups on social media: those who connect with others and those who create and consume content.

No matter how they use social media, however, students still largely used email. In fact, students who were more active on social media were also more likely to read emails. Facebook use also correlated with campus engagement (Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, 2/2).



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