Quiz: What Kind of Harvard Inbox Do You Have?

By Will Christenfeld

You either have a friend with 5000 unread emails, or you are that friend. Nothing in high school really prepares you for the number of emails you receive in college. Do you regularly regret signing up for mailing lists from clubs you will never join? Did you make one online purchase and now Romwe won’t stop sending you emails? Decide what to delete, ignore, open, or respond to by answering these questions about the majority of your mail:

Who is most of your mail from?

A. Someone replying to you — bonus points if they’re replying quickly!

B. One of your cool professors, student groups, or a subscription you enjoy.

C. Canvas, Slack, or Rakesh Khurana sending you a regular update.

D. Random so-called humor magazine organizations telling you to “Clomp” them, completely unsolicited.

What’s the subject line and preview most of the time?

A. A clever pun, lots of exclamations, or an image/video preview.

B. Something addressed to you personally.

C. Marked [URGENT], [ACTION], or something equally dramatic that probably implies a when2meet is in your future.

D. Your name misspelled in the first line.

What do emails usually want from you?

​​​​​​​A. Nothing — in fact they usually give me a chance to win a gift card. Or free food.

B. Nothing — just sharing or reminding me about cool opportunities, events, and people.

C. IDK — I have to read more than 3 paragraphs of text to even find out?! I don’t remember signing up for my Gen Ed readings to come straight to my inbox!

D. My soul — a.k.a. filling out yet another dreaded Google form, probably to attend another Zoom.

What’s the content of emails usually look like?

A. Gifs, xoxos, smiley faces, & exclamations!

B. Dry, but short. Alternatively, lots of text, but a good read.

C. Advertisements. Lots and lots of advertisements. Give someone Canva, and suddenly they think they’re a graphic designer.

D. Spam, problematic emails, Canvas telling you about a quiz you failed.

How many other people are included in this email thread?

A. You’re the one and only ;)

B. It’s a small group of people: your entryway, your house, or your organization’s board. Maybe someone spotted a lizard at Lowell and now everyone’s writing poetry about it.

C. The classic mass advertisement or a pretty large group project so if you flake, someone else will probably eventually get it going.

D. Your entire Harvard class is cc’d and everyone keeps “accidentally” hitting reply all.


Mostly A’s: A fantabulous inbox

Good for you, you’ve honestly solved Harvard. You have lots of email clout and your inbox is popping off with personalized, useful, and exciting emails! Read your mail and respond to it — you’re probably receiving a reply to an important conversation with the professor you’ve been dying to know or you’ll win some free food.

Mostly B’s: Mostly fun and fresh vibes

Not a bad place to be: you have a decent chance at discovering a cool club or reading something that’ll bring a smile to your face. At least open all your mail… you can always skim and save the good stuff.

Mostly C’s: Functional, not fun

Your inbox isn’t your happy place and you should join more fun groups (*not a Flyby plug*) to spice up the emails you receive. Let most of your mail sit until a particularly miserable rainy day or until you receive a couple of bumps.

Mostly D’s: Forget it

Just delete it. Maybe even your whole account. But before you go — send some strongly worded emails to different mailing lists to let them know they’re ruining your life. Since this is clearly not sustainable, just tell people to Kik you if they really need something.

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