Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Off to college!

For many college freshmen, the education extends far beyond the classroom as they experience so many firsts: living away from family, meal-planning, budgeting, paying bills, doing laundry...

What about manners?

If they’re lucky, they’ve gotten a foundation in etiquette at home, but that’s not always the case. But even students (including those we’ve taught at Perfectly Polished) who are well-versed in etiquette have a few surprises.

“It’s really important to remember that everyone comes from a different culture,” said one college freshmen, who is going to a large state college after attending a small private school. “Even if everybody is from Georgia, we have all come from a unique culture.”

That might mean that cussing up a storm might offend your new roommate—or, alternately, holding a door for fellow classmates may prompt them to “look at you like you are from Mars because no one has ever held the door for them,” says our friend.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t hold doors open for friends—it’s not outdated to be nice to people, especially if you’re trying to make friends. And it’s important to remember the basics: “If someone bumps into you, look them in the eye, smile and say sorry.”

Other advice for the college freshman from the college freshman, gathered from former Perfectly Polished students:

• Oversleeping doesn’t mean you should wear your pajamas to class! Take a few extra minutes to get properly dressed before you step outside.

• If you are talking to someone, take your earbuds out of your ears, even if you think you can hear the other person.

• Similarly, if you are talking to someone, don’t text at the same time! Give your full attention to the person in front of you.

• Don’t overextend yourself. We heard a story where a freshman applied to a student organization, was accepted but then, feeling overwhelmed, skipped the first meeting. After that, she was not chosen for leadership positions in other campus organizations.

• “Be where your feet are,” says a friend. Live in the present! Don’t miss out on things happening around you—classes, meals, activities, friends—because you’re stuck in the past of dreaming about the future.

• Got a roommate? Have a chat about noise and cleanliness.

• Try talking. Be the one to start a conversation in the elevator, make afternoon plans with friends, or ask questions in class.

• You don’t have to be from the South to call professors (or any university employee) “ma’am” and “sir.”

• If you see someone having trouble—lost on campus, confused in the student bookstore, looking lonely outside of the dorm—ask if you can help.

• If someone gives you help, accept it graciously and say thank you!

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