College “Back to School” Etiquette

College is an exciting period in young people’s lives. It is where they define themselves, learn new things, develop lifelong friendships, and take steps toward success as adults. My fondest college memories are mostly social related: fraternity and sorority dances, homecoming celebrations, cheerleading, weekend visits to friends’ homes, dining out and church on Sundays. Reminiscence of my experiences brings laughter and the thoughts of how “those were the days!” On the other hand, I cringe when I reflect on my lack of decorum and improper manners. Knowing what I know now, things would have definitely been different. The following are some helpful tips to benefit college students:

Accept and value differences in people. College students are guaranteed to meet people from various backgrounds, ethnic groups and social status. Take the opportunity to learn from peers by embracing diversity. You will be amazed by your interesting discoveries of others’ worlds.

Treat others with respect. I regularly teach that to be respected, you must show respect for others. Upholding the Golden Rule (treating others the way you want to be treated) is a key component to the success of a college student. Sharing space with a roommate can be difficult if boundaries and respect are not highly adhered to. Make it a priority to live in peace with others and be aware of others’ feelings and rights.

Exhibit a warm and friendly demeanor. Greet others in the morning and throughout the day. Smile regularly. Make as many friends as possible. Don’t isolate yourself; you may miss some great opportunities. Also, positive interactions with others help you feel more confident. It is wise for freshmen and incoming students to take advantage of orientation sessions. What a great opportunity to meet new classmates-to-be.

Present yourself properly to the school’s administrators and staff. Make a special effort to become acquainted with your professors by introducing and providing some background on yourself. Extend a proper handshake and express gratitude for the opportunity to be in their classes.

Exhibit proper table manners at every meal. Although the majority of your meals will be eaten in the cafeteria, you must demonstrate exemplary dining decorum. In addition, eat well balanced, nutritious meals.

Dress appropriately for class and school events. Your appearance says a lot about you. Stylish pajama attire is inappropriate for the classroom and hats are not to be worn in class. When packing for school, ensure your wardrobe is suitable for varied occasions. Semi-formal wear and business attire should be included with your other fashionable “fits.” As well, don’t forget dress shoes.

Exhibit good work ethics while working on campus. The foundation for successful employment highly correlates with proper job etiquette. Work with integrity, be reliable and take pride in your work. Model employees easily obtain superior references.

Discipline yourself and use self-control. Be cognizant of your behavior to not bring public embarrassment upon yourself. Clean up after yourself in common areas such as dormitory restrooms and the cafeteria and do not litter. If you must drink alcoholic beverages, bear in mind that your reputation can be ruined by regularly overindulging. Also, freshman and sophomores, the legal drinking age is 21.

Finally, enjoy the college journey while making the best of everyday!

Share this article

Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.