First Impressions, College Capers

Do you need to be liked?

If the answer is yes, join the crowd. Oh, most adults don’t need to be liked by everyone, but the younger we are, the wobblier that evolving self-image and the more important it is to feel liked.

Remember high school? Exactly.

Remember those first days at college? Tricky.

At the very least, we want to fit in. We want to make a positive first impression, and then live up to it.

First (College) Days, New (College) Ways

At the moment, I’m thinking about my son – and millions of soon-to-be college students just like him. I’m thinking about that critical freshman college experience.

What must they be feeling, as parents fuss over finalizing forms and budgeting for bursar’s bills, an possibly concerned for themselves about empty nest?

Yours truly is harried and hassled, focused on the steady stream of logistical details – doctors appointments and bank accounts, laundry, laundry, and more laundry. Oh yes – and figuring out what to pack. Oh, my aching back, my hand-wash hands, my crumbling credit card…

But my son?

I imagine he’s worried about workload, about homesickness, about first impressions and fitting in.

Like most of us – adults or teenagers – he wants to be liked.

Tips for Likability

I came across a nifty short piece in PsychologyToday.com, Get Anyone to Like You Instantly, hardly an in-depth study, but handy tips I might want to remind my son – and myself as well.

Largely, the article highlights gestures, facial expressions, and simple mirroring (empathetic) language.

These are signs of openness and attentiveness to the person you’re with. The fact is – a smile is one of the simplest and most powerful tools there is. At least, in this culture where it isn’t taken as artificial, and it is received as approachability.

Of course, there are issues of communication skill, personality traits, the (useful) ability to tell a joke if you can – not to mention the tendency to pull pranks. (Might we wait until second semester for any college capers??)

As for starting off on the right foot in college, a host of other skills will be necessary – organization, time management, adaptability. My son possesses his share of charm – and quirks. And everything else, he’ll have to learn – like every other freshman stumbling his way through, and then settling in.

For now?

For now, it’s about more shopping (on a tight budget), more laundry, more logistics.

And the first impression I’m likely to make on anyone over the next weeks?

One tired and distracted woman. But smiling, just the same. We’re almost there, not at the “finish” line but at the starting gate. It’s been quite a road – and soon, it will all be up to him.

I couldn’t be more proud.

  • How much does body language affect your first impression?
  • Mastered any “likability” tricks that help in your personal or professional life?
  • How was your freshman experience?