Written by Carrie Baker. Media by Kayla Morton.
“I turn on my computer. I wait patiently as it connects. I go online. My breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words, “You’ve got mail.” I hear nothing…just the beat of my own heart. I have mail.”
-“You’ve Got Mail” (1998)
We’ve all done it. Walked to our mailbox with hopeful hearts, waiting for the moment of truth as we slowly turn the key. In the next few seconds, one of two things will happen: You will open your mailbox (like you have done thousands of other times) and there will be nothing there. In this case, your heart will drop just a bit and you will close your mailbox, feeling silly for even checking it in the first place. If you are lucky; however, a small envelope, maybe even two, may be patiently sitting there, waiting to be found. Suddenly your day has made a complete 360° turn. You walk a little taller, smile a little bigger and the load of college seems a little bit lighter because…you’ve got mail.
While our experience as college students might not be quite as romantic as Kathleen Kelly’s (Meg Ryan) in her 1998 hit movie, “You’ve Got Mail,” the emotions elicited from those three little words are much the same. So in the age of text messages, Snapchat and FaceTime where communication is at our fingertips and email seem outdated, the real question is, what gets students so excited about getting good old fashioned “snail mail?”
College life can get pretty hectic. Schedules start to fill up and our lives start to develop this mundane routine. That’s when college starts to get frustrating. Sometimes college students need a pick-me-up to get through the rest of the week. Often that little pick-me-up is mail. The best part about getting mail at college is the surprise factor (unless you’re anxiously awaiting a package you ordered online, which is equally exciting). When you see you have mail, your day and possibly your entire week is immediately better. In fact, Greenville College mailroom manager, Lindsay Strotheide witnesses this first hand. She says,
“You can always tell how excited a student is about getting something they ordered or something a family member or friend has sent.”
Opening the mail is, of course, the best part because you get to see what’s inside. Sometimes it’s money, pictures, or maybe just a letter. Your friends or relatives probably could have just shot you a text, called or even emailed; but everything seems to mean more in writing. Getting mail at college makes you feel special. It serves as a reminder that we aren’t forgotten even when we aren’t at home. You get this giddy feeling, this feeling that you are so loved that someone was willing to go out of their way to send you a token of their love.
In fact, that is probably the best part about getting mail at college. Because even though we aren’t physically at home, when we get mail, we get a little piece of home. No, it may not be the same as getting to spend time with family, but it’s the closest thing we have to home when we are away. There is something so special about the familiarity of a handwritten letter or a care package of grandma’s goodies. No matter how old you are or how far away, every student starts to miss home.
Getting mail at college is so special because it’s rare. If students got mail every day it wouldn’t be as exciting. But since we don’t, every time we do is like Christmas. Mail is unexpected happiness, a token of love and familiarity. To college students, mail is home in every sense of the word. Make a student’s day and send them some mail. If you’re a student, send some mail to your friends—because everybody deserves to hear those three little words: “You’ve Got Mail.”