Up for debate: does professional attire benefit focus in the classroom?

Kelci Sannapieco February 27, 2013 0

Elizabethtown College has taken a different approach than many colleges when it comes to dress codes.  Some schools, like Liberty University and Penn Tech, employ a strict, daily dress code. At Etown, while an overall dress code does not exist, regulations on attire are stricter in the education, communications and business departments simply because there is a bigger emphasis on appearance. These majors are generally are more concerned with interactions and communication on a day-to-day basis.
Chair of the Education Department Dr. Rachel Finley-Bowman shared how the department sets restrictions in a code of conduct for education majors to follow so they can better understand the feeling of professionalism.  However, Finley-Bowman is not an avid supporter of dress code regulations for all students.  “In a way, you behave how you dress, but we emphasize dressing for the appropriate context,” Finley-Bowman said.  “That is our culture of learning.”
Senior Holly Bubb is an education major student teaching this semester.  She has always been one to wear sweatpants to class every day because she personally finds no reason to dress up for stationary learning in a classroom.  Now that she is student teaching and is required to dress up each day, she has learned to love it.  “I feel more awake. I feel like others view me as more responsible and serious about what I plan to do with my life,” Bubb said.
Professor Heather Gerber of the communications department teaches public speaking courses. Gerber insists that a first impression can be vital in public performance.  “I always tell my students that when they are speaking in front of others, their appearance speaks to their credibility and their attitude about the event in which they are attending,” Gerber said.  As far as the influence dress codes have on raising test scores, Gerber does not think these regulations will drive the enthusiasm of a good student.  “I think the threads that make up an individual — integrity, enthusiasm, drive, responsibility, etc. — speak louder than the threads that make up their shirt,” Gerber said.
The business department requires students to dress professionally for several courses and for lectures given by business professionals.  First-year business major Stephanie High understands that these regulations are preparing students for their futures in the business world, which will require a professional wardrobe.
High also sees where a student’s frustration may come into play.  “Some find this dress code a little premature for college first-years who will not enter the workforce for another three years, but it is just the business department trying to prepare students early,” High said.
A college-wide dress code policy seems a bit excessive considering some majors hardly require the interaction between people in a professional setting.  However, majors that are communication-oriented and require an abundant amount of face-to-face interaction can benefit tremendously from the preparation of professional attire in undergraduate schooling.  In these extroverted occupations, dressing professionally every morning for work gives a person more confidence. When you hold yourself to a higher standard through your apparel, it helps boost your self-image and the amount of respect you are given as a student and future professional.

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