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Why don't college students know how to use email?

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
So I get this email today that says "here's my assignment." No greeting (Dear Professor BRussell, Hi BRussell, Mr. BRussell, Dr. BRussell, BRussell, etc.) no name (just the absurd hotchick99@yahoo-type email address), no class, and I can't open the attachment. It must be Wordperfect or MS Publisher or some other crap like that.

I get probably a dozen like this every semester. Why do people lose their minds when emailing their professors? Do they think their name appears automatically in email? I just really want to understand the mentality that would allow someone to click "send" without putting any relevant information in an email.

And how should I respond to this person? I'm thinking of sending the "Get a brain moran" picture.
post #2 of 48
Sorry about that.

I'll resend it in word format...
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
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"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
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post #3 of 48
Bounce the message.

It'll give them a nice little fright to get a "message could not be delivered" response. For extra effect, you could bounce it a few hours before the deadline for when it's due.

A bit of blind panic will teach them to behave better in the future
post #4 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post

Sorry about that.

I'll resend it in word format...

I shoulda known.
post #5 of 48
I'll blame apathy.
post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

So I get this email today that says "here's my assignment." No greeting (Dear Professor BRussell, Hi BRussell, Mr. BRussell, Dr. BRussell, BRussell, etc.) no name (just the absurd hotchick99@yahoo-type email address), no class, and I can't open the attachment. It must be Wordperfect or MS Publisher or some other crap like that.

I get probably a dozen like this every semester. Why do people lose their minds when emailing their professors? Do they think their name appears automatically in email? I just really want to understand the mentality that would allow someone to click "send" without putting any relevant information in an email.

And how should I respond to this person? I'm thinking of sending the "Get a brain moran" picture.

Our students never grew up in a culture that ever came anywhere close to writing letters, and so the conventions that fogies like us bring to email simply never applied to them. The conventions for them are markedly different than they are for us (I read an article somewhere about how they use texting versus IM...IIRC, texting was almost exclusively about conveying informationwhere to meet for lunch, etcthat didn't require a response). For us, email is a formal business much more like a letter; for them, it's no different than a text.

When you get an email that says something like this

HEY PROFESSOR MIDWINTER I MISSED CLASS TODAY BECAUSE I COULDN'T FIND MY SHOES AND THEN MY CAR WOULDN'T START AND I NEEDED A PERSONAL DAY DID WE DO ANYTHING IMPORTANT IN CLASS KTHXBYE LOL

from superhottie69@yahoo.com

Just respond with this:

http://mleddy.blogspot.com/2005/01/h...professor.html
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #7 of 48
We get docked "professionalism points" in legal methods classes for unprofessionally written emails.

But in most other classes, I just mirror the professor's style. If they don't write a greeting (Shawn, Mr. J, etc) then I typically don't either.
post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

We get docked "professionalism points" in legal methods classes for unprofessionally written emails.

But in most other classes, I just mirror the professor's style. If they don't write a greeting (Shawn, Mr. J, etc) then I typically don't either.

They probably think you're uppity for doing that.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
Reply
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #9 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

They probably think you're uppity for doing that.

or black.

(sorry folks, but Georgia Reps have a nasty habit of enraging me... fortunately, I am not from THAT southern state...)
"In a republic, voters may vote for the leaders they want, but they get the leaders they deserve."
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"In a republic, voters may vote for the leaders they want, but they get the leaders they deserve."
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post #10 of 48
Come to think of it, do professors ever write a greeting to their students?

Most professors' responses that I can think of are practically "instant messages" in style and form themselves.

They're usually coherent and don't abbreviate words though.
post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by hardeeharhar View Post

or black.

(sorry folks, but Georgia Reps have a nasty habit of enraging me... fortunately, I am not from THAT southern state...)

I guess I should explain that I only ever use "uppity" to refer to fairly well-off white males from Scranton.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
Reply
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

Come to think of it, do professors ever write a greeting to their students?

Most professors' responses that I can think of are practically "instant messages" in style and form themselves.

They're usually coherent and don't abbreviate words though.

My email to students is always formal, unless I know the student very well *and* we are engaged in a multi-email exchange.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
Reply
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #13 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

...unless I know the student very well *and* we are engaged in a multi-email exchange.

*and* if the student is a girl...
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
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"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
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post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post

*and* if the student is a girl...

ba dum dum!
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
Reply
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

Come to think of it, do professors ever write a greeting to their students?

Most professors' responses that I can think of are practically "instant messages" in style and form themselves.

Indeed.
Quote:

It's simply a matter of common sense. An email should contain the information necessary for the exchange.

However, insisting on or expecting a greeting is lame unless there is a reason, such as when emailing an account shared by multiple individuals and the email is intended for one of them. Also, more often than not, "thanks" emails are annoying and a waste of everyone's time. Anyway, all of this is email 101 shit.
post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post

*and* if the student is a girl...

Zing!
post #17 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

Our students never grew up in a culture that ever came anywhere close to writing letters, and so the conventions that fogies like us bring to email simply never applied to them. The conventions for them are markedly different than they are for us (I read an article somewhere about how they use texting versus IM...IIRC, texting was almost exclusively about conveying informationwhere to meet for lunch, etcthat didn't require a response). For us, email is a formal business much more like a letter; for them, it's no different than a text.

When you get an email that says something like this

HEY PROFESSOR MIDWINTER I MISSED CLASS TODAY BECAUSE I COULDN'T FIND MY SHOES AND THEN MY CAR WOULDN'T START AND I NEEDED A PERSONAL DAY DID WE DO ANYTHING IMPORTANT IN CLASS KTHXBYE LOL

from superhottie69@yahoo.com

Just respond with this:

http://mleddy.blogspot.com/2005/01/h...professor.html

I guess it's like texting, but don't these people email too? Is email really so old-fashioned that people don't understand that you have to sign your name if you want someone to do something for you? I haven't written too many letters in my life, but I "sign" my friggin emails, even if they're to family or close friends.

And I love that web link. It almost seems ridiculously condescending to have to use it, but apparently it's necessary for a significant minority of people.
post #18 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

Come to think of it, do professors ever write a greeting to their students?

Most professors' responses that I can think of are practically "instant messages" in style and form themselves.

They're usually coherent and don't abbreviate words though.

That's probably true, but I guess I'm concerned less with etiquette and more with just common sense: If you want something that requires your name, YOU USE YOUR FRICKIN NAME!

I've talked to real hard-ass professors who say they won't accept email from students' non-university accounts. Every student gets a university account, so they shouldn't use their toughguy29@hotmail accounts. That seems a little ridiculous to me.
post #19 of 48
Toughguy29???

"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
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"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
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post #20 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post

Toughguy29???


That really IS you, isn't it?
post #21 of 48
No...

I'm too young to be Toughguy29. I'm only Toughguy24.
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
Reply
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
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post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post

No...

I'm too young to be Toughguy29. I'm only Toughguy24.

Dude, that was your number on the high school football team. Took too many shots to head, did you?
A good brain ain't diddly if you don't have the facts
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A good brain ain't diddly if you don't have the facts
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post #23 of 48
Ocho Quatro!
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
Reply
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
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post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

That's probably true, but I guess I'm concerned less with etiquette and more with just common sense: If you want something that requires your name, YOU USE YOUR FRICKIN NAME!

I've talked to real hard-ass professors who say they won't accept email from students' non-university accounts. Every student gets a university account, so they shouldn't use their toughguy29@hotmail accounts. That seems a little ridiculous to me.

When I send that link, I don't write anything. I just paste it into the email, send it, and wait for a properly formatted email from a student I can identify.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
Reply
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
Reply
post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

I guess it's like texting, but don't these people email too? Is email really so old-fashioned that people don't understand that you have to sign your name if you want someone to do something for you? I haven't written too many letters in my life, but I "sign" my friggin emails, even if they're to family or close friends.

And I love that web link. It almost seems ridiculously condescending to have to use it, but apparently it's necessary for a significant minority of people.

First not to be rude, but yes email is that old-fashioned and yes you are that old.

I say this as probably one of the last people on here to stop signing their posts. Things change over time. Email is the dinosaur of our current communications.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #26 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

First not to be rude, but yes email is that old-fashioned and yes you are that old.

I say this as probably one of the last people on here to stop signing their posts. Things change over time. Email is the dinosaur of our current communications.

Old? That is a personal attack if I've ever seen one. Reported!

I dunno. So 20-year-olds don't email at all?
post #27 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

Old? That is a personal attack if I've ever seen one. Reported!

I dunno. So 20-year-olds don't email at all?

My experience is that they text FAR more than they email.

I think Nick is right. I think it's just something that's changing.

We grow old, we grow old.
We shall wear the bottoms of our trousers rolled.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
Reply
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #28 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

My experience is that they text FAR more than they email.

Definitely.

I've sent 100 emails since 11/11/07.

100 texts on the other hand wouldn't even equal a text billing period.
post #29 of 48
I wonder how much I'd have to text to get good at it.

I do it so rarely now that texting always seems like an arduous task to me. My iPhone makes texting more pleasant than on my previous phone (4-4 3-3 5-5-5 pause 5-5-5 6-6-6), but I'm still not very happy about generating words without a full-sized keyboard.

Not only that, I like real English too much. I'm slow at sending instant messages because of that, even with a full-size keyboard at my disposal. I suppose if I were a social butterfly, or in a business where I was on the go and juggling lots of meetings and contacts, I might have more use for sending and receiving short messages like "meet u @ mall 4pm" or "fax tim contract asap", but I don't have such needs in my life.

What amazes me is that people will conduct real-time conversations via texting. Maybe I'm just an elitist snob, but I suspect if I could eavesdrop on some of these conversation I'd quite often be overwhelmed by the pointless vapidity of those conversations.
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Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

Old? That is a personal attack if I've ever seen one. Reported!

I dunno. So 20-year-olds don't email at all?

Dude, that is only for PO.

Twenty year-olds I know deal almost exclusively with cell phones. They either have full keyboards on their phones or can use T9 at insane speeds. I'm actually pretty good at T9 myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by midwinter View Post

My experience is that they text FAR more than they email.

I think Nick is right. I think it's just something that's changing.

We grow old, we grow old.
We shall wear the bottoms of our trousers rolled.

Not changing, changed. These kids spit out text messages at insane speeds. They have not just contacts but groups within their contacts just like email programs. They take a pic, add a paragraph and send it to the whole group with a couple button clicks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

Definitely.

I've sent 100 emails since 11/11/07.

100 texts on the other hand wouldn't even equal a text billing period.

They are talking about 20 year olds, not some old fart like you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

I wonder how much I'd have to text to get good at it.

I do it so rarely now that texting always seems like an arduous task to me. My iPhone makes texting more pleasant than on my previous phone (4-4 3-3 5-5-5 pause 5-5-5 6-6-6), but I'm still not very happy about generating words without a full-sized keyboard.

Not only that, I like real English too much. I'm slow at sending instant messages because of that, even with a full-size keyboard at my disposal. I suppose if I were a social butterfly, or in a business where I was on the go and juggling lots of meetings and contacts, I might have more use for sending and receiving short messages like "meet u @ mall 4pm" or "fax tim contract asap", but I don't have such needs in my life.

What amazes me is that people will conduct real-time conversations via texting. Maybe I'm just an elitist snob, but I suspect if I could eavesdrop on some of these conversation I'd quite often be overwhelmed by the pointless vapidity of those conversations.



It's called predictive text.
Learn it, live it, love it. These people aren't punching keys the way you are punching them. They know which key is the space key. You can use full words.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #31 of 48
Can we modify this to "Why don't college students and many in the general population know how to use e-mail?"

With the college kids, texting is their life. They really do use it like trump described. I've even noticed it with 30 somethings. I myself do it more than I used to, but I'd frankly rather e-mail.

But here is what drives me wacko:

1. Older Baby Boomers (sorry) who send nothing but effing FORWARDS. My father sends two per day. They're always something like "look at the beautiful bald eagle as he soars above our countryside. God bless our troops! God Bless America! "I pledge Allegiance, to the flag....." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! <delete>

2. People that give you their e-mail (like many of my private musical students' parents) and then don't respond to e-mails for up to 5-7 days. "I don't check every day" they say. After you call 5-7 days later, they say they got it...but only yesterday. "Yeah...uh..I was really busy." The fact is that e-mail is just not an integral part of their lives. SO, TELL ME TO CALL YOU, FOOL.

3. People that use my first name without even knowing me. Example: I am my school's webmaster. I got an e-mail from the feedback link from a guy that thought there were some things missing (he was...how do I put this....a DICK about it). I responded and gave him my first and last name (it's in the e-mail address anyway). He responds and says "Hi Scott." I can almost picture his shit eating grin as he sent the follow-up. I just had that happen with a customer service response from Logitech, too. "Scott, I'm sorry you had this problem." Well, no problem, Rachel.


BRussell: I think if I were you, I would "school" these students in the proper use of e-mail. It's a skill they'll need when they enter the workforce.
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post #32 of 48
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post #33 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

Dude, that is only for PO.

Twenty year-olds I know deal almost exclusively with cell phones. They either have full keyboards on their phones or can use T9 at insane speeds. I'm actually pretty good at T9 myself.

But that doesn't mean you lose your mind when you use something else. I rarely write letters, but if I do, I put a stamp on it, I use a return address, and I sign it so the recipient knows who it's from.
post #34 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

1. Older Baby Boomers (sorry) who send nothing but effing FORWARDS. My father sends two per day. They're always something like "look at the beautiful bald eagle as he soars above our countryside. God bless our troops! God Bless America! "I pledge Allegiance, to the flag....." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! <delete>

Egad. I tend to get these obviously bogus spam emails, like "little Amber Sue was abducted. Send $1000 to nigeria to help find her." Or dumb shit like "imagine you're standing with someone. Now picture it in front of a building... The person you're standing with is the love of your life! The building is your childhood home!"

And how do you get someone to take you off their email list? You know it's going to offend them because they think they're sending the coolest, most important emails ever.
post #35 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Older Baby Boomers (sorry) who send nothing but effing FORWARDS.

If it bothers you, tell them to stop. If that doesn't work, make a filter that sends all the email from that person to trash or spam.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

3. People that use my first name without even knowing me.

That's standard for most business emails that are anything less than highly formal. It'd be a good idea to get over it.
post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by giant View Post

If it bothers you, tell them to stop. If that doesn't work, make a filter that sends all the email from that person to trash or spam.

That's standard for most business emails that are anything less than highly formal. It'd be a good idea to get over it.

Exactly. Even when I email the CEO or president of my company, I start it off with a "Hello Brad", or "Hi Jeff". When contacting a vendor, client or other person, they use my first name and I use theirs. the only time I ever use Mr./Mrs./Ms. is when addressing a potential job. But then I'm formatting the email as a real business style letter (their contact info and address at the top, proper greeting and salutation, and my full contact info at the bottom). Don't kids learn how to write letters in school anymore?
post #37 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by hua85 View Post

Hello friends,
What are you searching for?
Shoes, jeans, clothes, handbags, purse, sunglasses or cap?....

Even THIS guy used a greeting...
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
Reply
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress." - Mickey Mantle
Reply
post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

But that doesn't mean you lose your mind when you use something else. I rarely write letters, but if I do, I put a stamp on it, I use a return address, and I sign it so the recipient knows who it's from.

Technology doesn't just add to what we do, it also changes it. I'm sure a dozen years ago there were people staring down their reading glasses at us wondering why the hell we need these smilie things in our email.

I also seem to recall threading and quoting in return replies not initially being the norm for email. (I remember I had a program in my Mac Classic II that I could paste text into and it would add the > before each line and I got such compliments on it.

New technology fights against and changes older technology. Those are the breaks. If you are tired of reading emails formatted like text messages then have them send you a text message. If you don't text message then you probably are staring down or through your reading glass at this message.

Since everyone has my cell number I specifically ASK them to text me information. A renter called the other day and wanted to leave me a fax number. Please text me that and I'll keep it on my phone. I know it will fall out of my head. I do this often. I still give out my email address but the signal to noise ratio is too low there compared to texting.

Finally what is this letter thing to which you refer? Is there anything different about how you write a letter now compared to pre-email?

Quote:
Egad. I tend to get these obviously bogus spam emails, like "little Amber Sue was abducted. Send $1000 to nigeria to help find her." Or dumb shit like "imagine you're standing with someone. Now picture it in front of a building... The person you're standing with is the love of your life! The building is your childhood home!"

And how do you get someone to take you off their email list? You know it's going to offend them because they think they're sending the coolest, most important emails ever.

You don't. You just realize they are hopeless and use texting instead.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Reply

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #39 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

It's called predictive text.[/URL] Learn it, live it, love it. These people aren't punching keys the way you are punching them. They know which key is the space key. You can use full words.

I've used T9. I don't love it. Yes, it's better than the simple multi-tap, in much the same way getting a filling is better than root canal. I end up using multi-tap mixed in with T9 anyway, for all the words the T9 dictionary doesn't know.

I'm sure with practice I'd find texting far less of a pain, but I have no urgent need to do much texting, so I won't get much practice, so it's probably always going to be a pain to do for me.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
post #40 of 48
It's just normal human behavior. There's no use in trying to change people. I can't understand why the student would press 'send' without putting any information in the email, but I do know that it's just the way a lot of people are.

People like Horace Mann thought that they could produce "error-free" generations of people free of such flaws, and in the process they gave countries things such as public education and religion, but nothing changes core human behaviors.

But to more directly answer your question, not only I don't know why college students don't know how to use email, but I don't know if that's true. You don't know where that student was coming from, what was going on in their life, or what circumstances were the pretext for pressing the send button at the time that they did. Just keep in mind that any time anybody does anything, they always feel as aware and sure of themselves as you and me are when we do anything. We are all just coming from different places.

The fact that it didn't occur to the student to put more information in the email, doesn't show ignorance or stupidity on their part. It only means that they didn't put more information, and until you know exactly why they didn't, you can't assume that it was because they don't know how to use email.
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