If there's one thing my generation does to advance the productivity of how we work, I hope it is getting rid of the timesuck that is voice mail. Google Voice, Google's telephone forwarding and messaging system, is a great step forward in mobile communication, and has been in an invitation-only beta for the past couple of years. But in an effort to kickstart the adoption of Google Voice, Google is giving any student or grad with an .edu e-mail address a free Google Voice invite.
Signing up for a free Google Voice invite is as simple as visiting Google's student landing page and entering your university e-mail address. Within 24 hours you'll receive an invite to Google Voice and the opportunity to choose a local number that can ring all of your phones.
With a Google Voice number, not only can you have any phone you are near ring when your Google Voice number gets a call; but you can also avoid wasting time and money checking your voice mail. This is because Google Voice will transcribe your voice mail and send you a text or email with what your caller wanted. Granted, the transcription isn't always spot on, but if you have a smartphone you can play the message on your screen or listen from a computer. Oh, and did I mention if you use one of the Google Voice mobile apps you'll have unlimited free text messaging?
Another really handy feature of Google Voice is that you can set up voice mail greetings based on who is calling you. This means that if Mom or Grandma call they'll get a message saying how you're too busy studying to take their call, prospective employers will be greeted with your most professional greeting and your friends will still hear the same old Will Ferrell soundboard engineered greeting you thought was hilarious when you set it up at the beginning of freshmen year.
The free Google Voice for students offer couldn't come soon enough for the students I taught this semester, who laughed when I asked if the University's decision to turn off voice mail service (or charge for it) bothered them.
Free Google Voice invites for college students and grads