“eMail is no longer considered a rite of passage” for college students, Green said. “It’s much like having a cell phone and a phone number when you go to college. You don’t want to change [phones and numbers] when you get there.”

Campus IT officials said students are often the driving force behind campus-wide Gmail adoption, since so many have used Gmail – and related chat and video functions – as their personal eMail account for many years.

“Our students were really the ones that led us down the Google path,” said Geoff Greene, IT director of support services at Brown University, which converted to Gmail last June. “They knew these tools would work because they already used them in their non-school lives.”

Moving all campus eMail addresses to the web giant’s servers has proven overwhelmingly popular among students. Ninety-eight percent of Harvard students switched their eMail addresses to Gmail within a month of the university’s announcement that it would provide school Gmail accounts, according to Harvard’s website.

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