What do I need to do to prepare for the switch to Google Email?
The key is to be aware of the impact on you. If you currently use another email provider, then the impact is minimal. If you forward your email, you'll need to set that up again in the new system (If you don't know what forward means, then you don't need to worry about it).
If you're using a Yahoo or other email address, you can continue to use that address until June 16th, 2010.
If you're currently using an @student.smc.edu account,--be ready to switch to Google Apps Email on April 13th, 2010. You can proactively forward email to any other email system (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) until the April 13th cutover, but after that you will only be able to perform copy/paste operation on the content/contacts in your read only mailbox.
Think of this process the same way you change cell phone providers. Your cell number remains the same, but you get a really cool new cell phone with super high-tech features. In the case of your SMC email, the account name and email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) remains the same, but you also get access to a powerful collection of applications.