In just four short years, there has been a small yet considerable change in the college application process. When I applied for an undergraduate education, I filled out a paper admission's application. As you may also remember, one of the most exciting parts of the whole process was receiving "the big envelope." Everyone knew what that meant, and everyone dreaded the standard size envelop with the college of your dreams written in the upper left-hand corner. However, when I filled out graduate school applications this year, every one of them had a substantial electronic submission section. Although this is in no way surprising, I was alarmed when I discovered it wasn't my little tin mailbox I had to check religiously everyday, but rather my inbox.
Although I'm a huge fan of immediate feedback - or perhaps I should say more accurately, instant gratification - there is something very disenchanting about receiving such important news via email. As I reconsider my frustration with this shift to electronic notifications, I discover that my irritation stems primarily from my view of email, and most online communication, as casual and informal. Yet, I ask myself - why does the medium through which I receive notification matter? Isn't it the content that matters? And these days, as we push towards being green shouldn't I applaud universities that are not sending out tons of paper letters that inevitably will be thrown away?
After reading an article about the recent Email Insider Summit panelist discussion, I have to agree that I personally prefer and use email as my primary communication tool. It's useful. It's practical. And it just plain makes sense in our world today. Nonetheless, when we resort to using email alone as a means of accepting and rejecting applicants, or perhaps hiring and firing employees, I'm a little perturbed. Some things seem to need more care and attention - even if it is as superficial as a tangible snail-mailed copy of the same notification I could easily receive via email. Or perhaps, I simply have some norm-reassessing and redefining to do. In this battle I can't help but feel like I'm stubbornly holding onto an inconsequential norm for no viable reason.