The Black & White

College Etiquette 101: 15 rules for college talk

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

By Elisa McCartin and Michelle Silver

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During senior year, college talk is inevitable. But often college conversations are frustrating and leave students feeling self-conscious about their college options. Whether it’s judgmental statements or persistent pestering about personal decisions, discussing college is often uncomfortable for students. By following these 15 simple rules, we can reintroduce etiquette into our college conversations.

  1. The College Label. Don’t tell people which schools you consider safety, target or reach schools. It differs for each person, and labeling schools as such diminishes other peoples’ top options.
  2. Too close to home? Avoid questioning someone’s desire to go to schools in the community, like Montgomery College or the University of Maryland, because they actually want to stay close to home or need to pay in-state tuition.
  3. Location frustration. Respect students’ decisions to prefer colleges in their region of choice. Don’t recoil when someone says they only want to go in the south, voice disagreement to someone’s desire to live in a rural area or criticize those who want to study abroad.
  4. Scholar-shhhips. Publicizing how much money you received in scholarships may make people feel uncomfortable or insecure about their own options.
  5. Acceptance Analysis. Don’t assume someone isn’t a capable student because they decide to attend a school with a higher acceptance rate.
  6. Money on the Mind. Be patient and give people their space as they consider their options. Financial information is an important factor in many people’s college decision process.
  7. Facebook Frenzy. Facebook posts announcing college commitments are for celebrating someone’s choice, so judge less and congratulate more.
  8. Less talk about legacy. “They only got in because they’re a legacy” devalues people’s personal achievements and hard work.
  9. Trash Talk. Keep your opinions about other people’s schools to yourself.
  10. Interview Interrogation. Interviews are between the applicant and the interviewer, so don’t discuss who you met with or how it went for you. Avoid asking about other people’s interviews.
  11. Decision Inquisition. Stop pestering people about how many or what schools they’re deciding between.
  12. Prestigious Presumption. Don’t assume people aren’t considering certain schools because they’ve gotten into more “prestigious” ones.
  13. Why so needy about my ED? Avoid asking where people are applying early decision because they might feel pressured to tell you if they get in.
  14. Speculation Depreciation. It’s unnecessary to speculate why someone did or didn’t get into a school behind their back.
  15. Dear Adults: Unless we bring it up, we don’t want to talk about college!

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