First impressions are crucial. They take only seconds to form and a lifetime to repair. With this in mind, it is a valuable life skill to control and improve the impressions that one leaves on others. Well-honed impression management skills can help students leave lasting impressions on teachers, parents, peers, and anyone else they meet.
What is Impression Management?
Successful students work hard to maintain their grades but must also work hard to create and maintain good impressions. In other words, to maximize their potential, students need to ensure that teachers, parents, and peers highly think of them. Students should ask themselves: How can I ensure that I get credit for all my work? For example, suppose a student spends several hours each night studying algebra. In that case, he or she should benefit from good impression management techniques to ensure that the teacher knows the hard effort going into the class. Impression management is simply a way to help hard-working students get the recognition they deserve.
Why Impression Management Matters?
Believe it or not, the most successful students are only sometimes the ones with the highest GPAs and perfect ACT scores. Students should have realistic, challenging, and measurable personal and academic goals. Students must “catch the eye” of their teachers, coaches, and other authority figures to ensure that goals are met. This doesn’t always mean being a teacher’s pet or completing hundreds of extra credit assignments. Instead, successful students demonstrate maturity, drive, and progress in the classroom every day – even when no one is watching. Forming positive relationships with teachers, parents, and peers gives students an advantage, both in the classroom and in the larger world beyond. Impression Management matters because teachers, coaches, and admissions offices assess the intangibles in addition to the transcripts and test scores. A charismatic, suave student who always turns in her assignments on time and asks good questions in class will always benefit from the doubt. On high school and college applications, glowing recommendation letters allow teachers and coaches to advocate for students willing to go the extra mile. Students who consistently demonstrate a willingness to do the work and come in for extra help are often rewarded on any subjectively graded assignment. When it is time for a student to apply for her first internship, she will be confident in interviews because of a lifetime spent perfecting the art of communication and confidence in her ability to leave a lasting impression on everyone she meets.
How can students make fast improvements to Impression Management skills?
The benefits of Impression Management training are endless, but let’s talk about quick ways that students can maximize their impact on teachers, peers, and other influential people every day, both inside and outside the classroom. Here are seven ways for students to drastically improve Impression Management skills:
- MAKE SURE THE PERSON IN CHARGE KNOWS WHO YOU ARE. This sounds silly, but if a teacher or coach has hundreds of students, you are just another student sitting at a desk in his/her classroom. Make yourself memorable. If possible, go introduce yourself during office hours during the first week of school. Alternatively, show up early and stay a few minutes after class. Spend time getting to know your teacher and having them get to know you. Ask them how their day is going or where they got that peculiar poster on the wall.
- COME PREPARED TO LEARN. Bobby Unser once said, “Success is where preparation meets opportunity.” Successful students show up to class ready to learn every day. They review notes from the day before. They write down questions to ask in class tomorrow. They have a notebook out and homework ready to turn in thirty seconds after they sit down. Teachers notice urgency, preparation, and organization. Make sure that your teacher knows that you want to succeed from day one.
- MAKE SURE THEY SEE YOU. The camouflage of the back row is crippling to the impressions you leave. Sit towards the front of the class. Make sure the teacher sees you taking notes and paying attention during class. Not only will this help you stay focused during class, but it will also put you in the teacher’s good graces.
- ATTEND TUTORIALS… EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T THINK NEED IT! Obviously, seeing your teacher during office hours is a positive thing, but don’t treat tutorials like the Emergency Room. Treat them like the dentist and go even when nothing is wrong. Students who show up outside of academic crises make it very clear that they want to succeed and they have a plan to do so. Successful students should be attending tutorials at least once every two weeks.
- SAY THANK YOU. Whether it is your parents, your teacher, a janitor, or a stranger who holds open the door for you, say thank you. Gratitude goes a long way, and successful students know that most of these people never get the recognition for what they do. Sadly, saying thank you is rare in schools. Make yourself stand out and make someone’s day at the same time.
- TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE. Learning to network with other students is a success multiplier. Your grades will improve, and you will also score some serious social capital with your classmates. Form study groups with other students who are successful in the class. Being able to review and teach each other the material is an excellent way to get ready for an exam. Plus, teachers are always listening in the hallways. Imagine if a teacher hears that a study group that you organized has helped several students in your class succeed.
- LEARN THE ART OF THE EMAIL. There is nothing more disrespectful to a teacher than sending a poorly written email. Start with an appropriate greeting (e.g., Good Morning), a brief but clear message, and end with a simple signature. Self advocation is a crucial life skill, and emails are a great first step for shy students.
If you would like to learn more about impression management or one of the other skills taught through our unique academic coaching curriculum, visit our services page.