Manner Monday®: Sending your child off to college

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by Carey Sue Vega in Etiquette, Manner Monday, Manners

Channel 4 asked me to do a segment last week on some do’s and don’ts about sending your child off to college.  I don’t have a link to the video, but I do have the transcript and thought I would share in case you missed it live.

Q:  It’s easy to have visions of ‘Animal House’ in your head when you drop your child off at college for the first time. What conversations should you have with your child?

A:  I think ‘conversation’ is the key word here. Start with thinking through the points you want to make and the topics you want to discuss, then form them into questions and get the conversation started.  Make sure it’s a dialogue not a monologue.  Here are some ideas that may work for you:

  • “How do you think most students handle the transition from living at home with rules to being on their own?”
  • “I bet college professors have some pretty interesting horror stories about some of their students, what do you think some of those stories might be?”

Q.  Let’s talk about the do’s and don’ts for classes.

A. Here are a few of the more important ones:

  • Have a conversation about generational differences and expectations. Addressing an elder by their title of Dr. or Professor, Mr. or Ms. shows respect and that sets the stage for a professional relationship.
  • A college classroom is kind of like a movie theatre: some things you do can be very disruptive to the people around you. Think about sounds, smells, etc.
  • Body language – when I speak to college groups, I can tell who is paying attention and taking notes on their laptop and who is scrolling through social media by their body language.

Q.  While we’re on the subject of classes, let’s go through some things you shouldn’t say to a professor.

A.  You definitely don’t want to tell them you need an ‘a’ in their class. They’re not going to give it to you because you asked! And the same goes for extra credit. If you’re falling behind, go to their office during office hours. Make sure you plan ahead and have questions about the material. Don’t just show up and waste their time. If you do have to miss a class, find a fellow classmate to ask questions, don’t ask your professor if you missed anything important.

Q.  We can’t talk about etiquette without talking about cellphones.

A.  This is a biggie – and if college students can get a grasp on this now, it will pay off big time for them in their professional careers.

  • Basic cell phone etiquette says we are to give the people in front of us priority. Put the phones away and practice good old-fashioned face time!
  • One of my favorite tips is the 10-4 rule – within 10 feet of someone you visually greet them and within 4 feet you verbally greet them. Practice this while walking around campus and see how many people you can make smile.

Q.  Now let’s talk about some etiquette for those newbie parents who are sending their first student off to college.

A.  I’ve heard stories of parents calling a professor because of the grade their child received. Let it go… your child is going to have to learn how to handle these situations on their own. Of course you can be an advisor and give them guidance – if they ask for it – but let them take care of things themselves.

Also, don’t forget to talk about expectations for staying in touch. Is that a weekly phone call – which I would highly encourage, that will help them with them phone skills! Is it via text or social media posts? Figure out what works for your family – but make sure to have the discussion up front so your child understands your expectations and your needs as a parent.


Do you have a ‘manner’ or question you would like to see covered next week in Manner Monday?  Feel free to send me your thoughts, I would love to hear from you.

My goal is to help my students (both youth and adults) to feel more comfortable and confident in the social and professional skills; do you know someone who would enjoy this post?  If so, please share it and encourage them to sign up to receive Manner Monday?  I would appreciate it!  And if you’re new to Manner Monday, I’d love for you to take a minute to learn more about why I started it. You can click here to read my very first post that tells all about it.

Thanks for reading!
Carey Sue


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