Email is the primary tool that colleges & universities use to communicate with students. We would even go so far as to say college success will partly depend on a student's ability to check email daily.
A recent study from Bowling Green University found that greater than one-third of students (39 percent) said they don’t always read emails from academic advisers. In addition, 54 percent of students said they don't always read emails from the university or from academic departments.
So what can parents and educators do to build an email checking habit in teenagers? We're sharing 15 creative ways to encourage your students to check their email daily.
Tips For Teachers:
Interactive Email Contests: Create engaging and fun email contests or quizzes with small incentives for participation. This could include trivia related to class topics, with rewards like extra credit, a shoutout in class, or even small prizes for correct answers. The element of competition and the prospect of rewards can motivate students to regularly check their emails.
Exclusive Announcements: Tease exclusive announcements or "Easter eggs" in your emails. Let students know that important information or extra resources will be shared through email, encouraging them to check regularly to stay in the loop. This builds a sense of curiosity and anticipation.
Themed Email Days: Designate specific days for themed emails. For example, "Fun Fact Friday" or "Motivational Monday." Injecting a bit of creativity and variety into your email communications can make the act of checking emails more enjoyable for students.
Scavenger Hunt Clues: Turn your email into a virtual scavenger hunt. Send out daily clues or challenges through email that lead students to hidden information, study tips, or resources related to your course. The thrill of the hunt can encourage consistent email engagement.
Email Challenges with Rewards: Introduce challenges that students can complete by responding to specific emails. For instance, ask them to reply with their favorite topic from the recent lecture or an interesting fact related to the course material. Recognize and reward active participants periodically.
Interactive Webinars or Q&A Sessions: Send occasional recorded short videos sent exclusively through email. This creates a sense of urgency for students to check their inbox regularly, knowing that they might miss out on valuable email-only videos if they don't.
Weekly Recap and Highlights: Send out a weekly email recap that includes highlights from the week, important reminders, and sneak peeks of what's coming up. Making your emails visually appealing (I LOVE Canva!!) and informative can encourage students to look forward to these updates.
Personalized Feedback: Occasionally provide personalized feedback or comments on student work through email. Knowing that your feedback is delivered directly to their inbox may motivate students to check their email for valuable insights on their academic progress.
Interactive Polls or Surveys: Incorporate interactive elements such as polls or surveys in your emails. Pose questions related to course content, seek opinions on upcoming topics, or gather feedback on the learning experience. This not only encourages email engagement but also fosters a sense of student involvement.
Email Challenges with Peer Recognition: Create challenges that involve peer recognition. For instance, ask students to nominate their peers for "Student of the Week" based on their contributions in class or to a group project. They can also nominate an "Unsung Hero" who may not be the loudest or most active participant in class but is a student who works hard outside of class. Recognizing and celebrating their peers may prompt students to check emails to stay connected with these positive interactions.
Tips For Parents:
Email It Instead of Say It: Send your daily itinerary to your student's email. When your student asks 'What are we doing on Saturday?' tell them you will send the schedule to their email. You might get a big eye roll but you're encouraging your teen to check email in order to find out important (and potentially rewarding) information.
Create a Family Routine: Build checking emails into your family's daily routine. For example, after dinner give all family members 5 minutes to check their personal email at same time. After 5 minutes, ask each person to share one item they found. This creates a daily habit and also accountability for checking the your teen's understanding of what they found in their inbox.
Send Event Invites to Your Student's Calendar: Does your teen have a chorus concert coming up? Do they have a football game or chess club meeting this week? Help your teen practice using their Google or Apple calendar. Sending an invite to their calendar increase their awareness of scheduling and time management but the calendar will also send an email reminder which supports your teen's working memory. Win-win!
Send a Picture: Occasionally ask your student to take a picture of the floor of their bedroom, best part of their day, a silly picture of them hanging out with their friends on the weekend, etc. and attach the picture to an email and send it to you. (and cc: another family member for bonus points). This reinforces the habit of sending emails in a silly way and lets your teen practice sending an attachment (a skill they will definitely need in college).
Send a Long Email - While it can be fun to send small rewards and trivia facts in an email, it's also important that your teen develop the skill (and attention) to read lengthy emails. Professors and academic advisors can send paragraphs of important directions with MANY details that will send your teen to dreamland. Start practicing now by sending emails with a paragraph or two - the topic is your choice. Reading a long email is also preparing your teen to read a syllabus, assignment sheet, etc.
Incorporating these creative strategies can transform email checking from a mundane task into an exciting and rewarding part of your students' daily routine - and help them build important skills which will lead to college success.