College Admissions Etiquette

SmileWhile the college admissions process may be overly complicated and frustrating at times, it can also provide an excellent opportunity for teens to develop social skills that will serve them in college and the workplace. Appropriate etiquette can help young people make a favorable impression and build positive relationships with other people. Stereotypes about the social skills of homeschoolers persist. So, even though public, private, and homeschool teens are likely equally clueless when it comes to etiquette, it can be homeschoolers who are judged more harshly. Equipping your homeschooler with exceptionally good manners can help them be more successful in the transition from teen to young adult.

Here are a few of the skill areas your student may be able to further develop during the college admissions process.

Email Etiquette – LOL ru 4 real?
While teens may spend a lot of time online, many have very little experience writing formal emails. Parents are often surprised to discover that their high schools students really don’t know the basics. During the college search and applications, students will need to write emails to admissions officers and adults who are writing recommendations. This is the perfect time to practice email etiquette, including addressing adults by appropriate titles, writing in complete sentences, and using a polite and friendly tone. Parents should also be aware that many teens are not in the habit of regularly checking email. College admissions may sent important, time sensitive information by email including application fee waivers and invitations to apply for scholarships. College professors often complain that students don’t check email and miss out on important announcements. Teens often communicate through social media or text so they are not in the routine of checking their email and making timely responses.  By working on this skill during senior year your student will be in the habit as they head off to college.

The Power of Thank You
While you may have required thank you notes for handwriting practice when your child was eight years old, it doesn’t mean the skill stuck. Taking time to thank people who are helping you is always a good practice to cultivate. It is appropriate to write a thank you note after college interviews, whether they are conducted by admissions staff or alumni. If your student is unclear what should go in this type of thank you note, encourage them to Google and find some sample notes.

Dress for Success
What should I wear for a college tour or a scholarship interview?  Are jeans okay for a college interview? Should I wear a suit?  Learning the appropriate dress for different situations is a skill expected in adult life. Students will need to know how to dress for internship and job interviews and college admissions is a good time to start learning how to ask about expectations and what level of formality is appropriate for situations in which they will be evaluated. Appropriate dress for a scholarship interview varies from business casual to more formal dress. It is always appropriate for a student to ask if they are unsure. For campus tours most students wear casual clothes including jeans or khakis. Dressing like a typical college student is fine, but be sure to avoid any clothes that are overly worn, revealing, or feature controversial sayings or pictures.

Respect Other People’s Time
Teens who procrastinate sometimes think nothing of demanding quick action from others. Part of good manners is respecting that other people’s time is as valuable as your own. Students should be instructed to ask for recommendations far in advance of when they are due. Many teachers and professors get swamped with recommendation requests and it can be time consuming to write a really thoughtful letter of support. While sometimes a last minute situation is unavoidable, most deadlines are known about well in advance and it communicates respect to give plenty of notice.

Introduce Yourself – Hello, my name is…
Confident self-presentation is a life skill that every person should have, but the majority of teens are still working on this. At college fairs, college visits, and interviews, students should be prepared to introduce themselves, make eye contact, and shake hands when appropriate. With interviews, they should make a point of learning the interviewer’s name and contact information. It can be easy when students are nervous to forget that it isn’t all about them. Part of good manners is expressing interest in other people.  While this stuff may sound really basic, it is better not to just assume your teens know how to handle these new situations. Roleplaying is a great way to practice.

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