Which Webmail Service Should you Use?

Updated: Apr 29

The vast majority of colleges in the US provide their students with one of two email options. Student's either get Microsoft Outlook through a Microsoft Office 365 license or Google's Gmail through the G Suite for Education license. I have used both of these services and have found them to be strong in their own ways. In short, Gmail is fairly intuitive and easy to use, while Outlook provides helpful connections with Microsoft Office products like Word and OneNote.

While students are well served by either of these email programs, it's important for students to create and maintain their own private email accounts. Some colleges promise their alumni lifetime email accounts, but it's doubtful that higher education institutions can guarantee access decades into the future. Moreover, most colleges have evolving IT related policies that will surely restrict user capabilities over time. Hence, the wise approach for students is to forward all of your college emails to your personal email address.

But which webmail service should you select for yourself? A quick Internet search will provide the curious reader with quite a few email options. Some of the most common are: AOL, Gmail, Outlook, Proton, Yahoo, Zoho, etc. You can choose any of these programs and exchange electronic mail successfully. Every one of these options works.

Nevertheless, I recommend students select a personal email address that is provided by either Microsoft or Google. Your best bet is using a Gmail account or an Outlook account. The reasons for this are three-fold. First, if your college email account is going to be an Outlook or Gmail account anyway, you might as well learn and use these programs ahead of time. Getting a personal account that uses the same features and functionality that your eventual school account provides is smart. Second, Gmail and Outlook are email services provided by very large and successful companies. These are not email providers that are going to shut down in the next year or two. And third, it's wise to use Gmail or Outlook because these services are considered popular email domains that a large proportion of Americans already use and are familiar with. Many web app extensions and sign-up pages provide a one-click connection via a Gmail or Outlook account.

My experiences as a university faculty member and as a higher education administrator have also taught me that students seeking college admission or applying for scholarships are better served when their email domain address is either gmail.com or outlook.com. Students with an aol or yahoo email domain are typically considered less professional, as these email accounts are stereotyped as outdated and are often seen as throwaway addresses. So my ultimate recommendation is for students to set up and use either a gmail or an outlook email address for their personal use.

Whichever domain you choose, be sure the specific username you create for your email address is both personalized and professional. I have seen way too many student email addresses similar to: 4naughtywitch; bigphatty; or shoplif10. It goes without saying, such email addresses come across as immature and will not help you reach your higher education goals. If you have any questions or comments about this post, feel free to send me an email via my contact page. Just be sure your respond to address ends with "gmail.com" or "outlook.com." :-)

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