Civility and First Generation College Students

Civility is Necessary for Civility to Work. Always! - Image Impact International #inspirecivility #civility

Civility is Necessary for Civility to Work. Always! - Image Impact International #inspirecivility #civility

By: Alejandra Flores

The act of being civil.

A phrase that’s short yet has such an important meaning is what makes our society function. At a young age most people are taught to be polite, courteous and respectful towards everyone and everything, yet as people grow up they tend to forget these simple rules that are the foundations to any culture. Civility, respect and politeness are traits everyone should possess in order to act together and work towards a common goal.

As a society we must learn to disagree and respect our differences and various points of view.

Being a first generation college student can be fun but nevertheless it can also be a frustrating time filled with anxiety and uncertainty. With this in mind, how can first generations college students remain optimistic and remember the essentials of civility?

As a first generation college student one is faced with multiple barriers, such unfamiliarity about college, little to no help from parents, and sometimes one has no idea about what being a college student is truly about. With multiple obstacles, it can be difficult for first generation college students to not only have civility but to show it as well. Having a higher education is essential. It teaches more than textbook knowledge. It exposes people to new ideas, perspectives and cultures. This is a great tool to have in order to achieve your academic goals. College reminds people of the hardship it took to be part of this academic universe and what a higher education can offer.

We live in a fast paced environment with information and attitudes changing minute by minute.

How can we remain civil and courteous?

Young people are faced with day to day issues that can put someone in a position to forget their manners, but civility is more than manners.

Civility is an essential key for our society to function.

Take flight and soar in business. Civility will lift you higher. - Image Impact International #inspirecivility #civility

Take flight and soar in business. Civility will lift you higher. - Image Impact International #inspirecivility #civility

Committing to a college is the key for many to succeed and being civil is an enormous step into improving yourself in a personal and professional aspect. Being able to honor this commitment and the people around you speaks highly of you. Civility is a trait that will help you do great things in college and beyond. Our personal gains and manners go a long way, and once you leave college that will forever go with you.

Demonstrating civility and caring for others will open countless opportunities for you to grow.

Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, civility is slowing vanishing. Workplaces and colleges aren’t as caring or civil as before. Respect and the idea of caring seems to be disappearing from people’s everyday actions.

How can we improve ourselves?

How can we remember to stay civil and polite?

One way to remember is to stop and analyze the situation. Not every action requires a reaction, and being polite demonstrates who you are not only as a student, but as a person. There are multiple factors why someone can be rude. As previously mentioned, people go through day to day issues in their lives and those issues can cause someone to be impolite. Financial problems, personal life matters, professional or academic issues can be some of the causes why someone could forget their manners. Unfortunately, plenty of times people are simply impolite, and first generation college student are exposed to new cultural habits, whether in the classroom, or in a workplace where they will experience these type of behaviors.

Being on a college campus offers a lot of opportunity and one of them it’s exposure to diversity. People come from different backgrounds and ethic codes of conduct than can enrich an individual, but even with diversity rude behavior can be a factor, and what happens if this model becomes the norm?

Civility connects us and respects our differences. - Image Impact International #inspirecivility #civility

Civility connects us and respects our differences. - Image Impact International #inspirecivility #civility

Civility offers a feel of “respect, dignity and trust” (Edmonds).

Unfortunately, this model of conduct is perishing from our day to day behavior. Forgetting this attribute will cause any workplace, school setting and even our society to malfunction. According to, there is a way to maintain optimistic, and productive by modeling a new approach to civilized behaviors in four steps.

*This steps are suggestions to follow if rude behaviors are the norm in a workplace or school setting.

  1. Set a new standard

  2. Model the standard

  3. Coach the standard

  4. Embed accountability to the standard

Setting a new standard will allow a person to analyze what is malfunctioning in an environment. When identifying the fault, one is able to keep the behaviors known to function properly keeping in mind that civility is the model one wants to follow. If positive behavior is the desired standard to be followed, you must take the first step and model this behavior yourself. One cannot expect positive behavior without being positive. Coaching the standard allows a person to connect, and have a one-on-one connection in order to work towards the same goal, be seen and find mutual respect and trust. Embedding accountability for standards is identifying when someone is only civil when expected or when they want something in exchange. This last point is important because if acting with civility is a behavior to just obtain something in exchange, then civility is not there.

Despite all this, what happens when disagreements in the classroom are divisive and how can all students feel included while discussing sensitive issues? Professors and students can discuss any topic as long as civility is always in mind.

Topics of discussion can vary, it can be political, economics, or cultural but it ultimately should enrich, educate, respect, and display dignity to all students with no harm intended towards anyone. We must remember that everything we say and everything we do can have an impact, “When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life…” (Schulten).

"Civility Brings Balance to Your Life." - Image Impact International #inspirecivility

"Civility Brings Balance to Your Life." - Image Impact International #inspirecivility

Analyzing yourself and your actions can create a well balanced environment that can function.

As shown, civility is an excellent attribute to have, and knowing you possess it will open vast opportunities for you as a first time college student. Your perseverance, respect, politeness, and dignity will demonstrate your hard work and your desire to become a successful professional in any field.

Civility is an essential trait that helps us grow, respect and value everyone.

Edmonds, S.Chris. “Four Steps Proven To Cultivate Workplace Civility.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 21 Sept. 2017,
Schulten, Katherine. “Talking Across Divides: 10 Ways to Encourage Civil Classroom Conversation On Difficult Issues.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Sept. 2016,