Don’t diss well-dressed classmates

  There he goes, striding up the Bailey-Howe steps, his shoes shining in the afternoon light, his shirt collar rippling in the wind and his pants pleated to perfection. “Over-achiever,” you mutter to yourself, glancing down at yesterday’s sweatpants that are covered with remnants of chips and eraser shavings. This is the third time this week you have spied this well-dressed classmate, and each sighting has made you want to throw mud in his general direction. We have all seen someone dressed nicely and have judged them with a mixture of admiration and cynicism. It’s college after all. Aren’t we supposed to be scampering about in our t-shirts and sweatpants? Before you answer with a resounding “yeh,” consider this – a study conducted by National Seminars Training, which is a division of the Rockhurst University Continuing Education Center, surveyed business professionals and found that 41 percent believed that dressing up for work made them more productive.   In this study, dressing up for work meant a formal suit opposed to business casual attire. One of the participants said, “A definite correlation exists between appropriate dress and pride, productivity, performance and self worth.” Wait a second. This is college, not a job. What difference does it make if we are dressed like ragamuffins or not? Do we not have the inalienable right as students to parade around in our pajamas for our 8:30 a.m. classes, our sweatshirts coated with pizza crumbs and coffee stains? Consider this. One of the executives in the study said, “You can’t be dressed casually for school or work, and not carry that attitude with you. Poor performance is a direct result of that attitude.” Whoa. What if the difference between getting an A or a B was in the shirt you put on this morning? Imagine if instead of rolling out of bed and grabbing the closest t-shirt, you open your closet doors and put on a collared shirt, a nice sweater, or even a dress. Feeling spiffy and pulled together, you exit your dorm with purpose. In class you sit upright rather than slouching. Your notes are actually legible. You are transformed. Dressing one level higher than normal is like going to the library – when you are there, you know it’s time to stop mucking around and get to work. Personally, when I am studying in sweatpants I am far more prone to distractions. Facebook, 24-hour online sales at The North Face, breaking news on the BBC: it all sucks me in. But when I have nicer clothes on, it is easier to ignore everything and focus on my calculus notes. Like it or not, what you wear is the first thing people notice. When you stumble to class in your pajamas, you send the message to your professor and your classmates that you don’t care about grades and that you would rather be sleeping.  You may not be paid in cash to be here, but school is your profession. Grades are currency, teachers are bosses, and classmates are co-workers. Why not gain an advantage by looking like you want that A? And to that chap or lass who is dressed for success, don’t judge them too harshly. They may be your bosses someday.