How College Students Communicate

How College Students Communicate

By Adam Buchalter

When you’re in high school, you and your peers are all located in one building, and you communicate with your friends by speaking with them (and texting them secretly while hiding your phone under your desk). In college, though, you will be flabbergasted by all of the different ways people communicate without uttering, or texting, a word. Here are the top 10 ways college students get in touch with each other without ever opening their mouths.

1. The Whiteboard
This is by far the most important way in which college students communicate with one another. You’ll leave the whiteboard on the outside of your dorm room door, and your dormmates will write things like “Nick was here.” A message like this will indicate to you that Nick, whose full name is most likely Nicolas, stopped by and wanted you to know about this. Possibly Nick stopped by to say hi, perhaps he wanted to borrow a DVD, or maybe he’s got a crush on you. Thanks to the whiteboard, you know that you were on his mind.

2. Facebook

You already Facebook like the internet's about to be shut down forever and now's your last chance to like "when you misuse semicolons, I judge you." In college, you'll continue to waste hour upon hour on Facebook, and you’ll also receive event invitations from friends with headlines such as “Danny and Denny turn twenty,” “Jessica’s J.D. Salinger Study Bash,” or “Justin Bieber All-Night Listening Party" from that scary girl down the hall.

3. Bulletin Boards
You’ll find bulletin boards on most floors of your dorm, as well as in the main lobby. This is where your dormmates will post about larger scale projects such as “Dodgeball Club,” “Movie Watching Club,” or “Club That Watches Dodgeball-Themed Movies.”

4. iTunes
In dorms that operate on a shared network, you can look at other peoples’ iTunes playlists, unless they're password-protected (believe it or not, some people are ashamed of their extensive Hannah Montana mp3 collections). Sharing playlists is a way of indirectly communicating with your peers. After spending 18 hours listening to the complete collection of “Kelsey B,” you will have plenty to talk about when you run into the real life Kelsey Bolansky in the hallways. You may not want to tell her that you listened to every Backstreet Boys song she owns, though.

5. Mailboxes
Looking to send a bouquet of daffodils to Kelsey B to apologize for being creepy? Send the flowers to her school address, and she’ll get a note in her mailbox indicating that she has a package. There is nothing more awesome than getting one of these notes, and odds are that unless she’s violently allergic to daffodils, you may have redeemed yourself.

6. Sign Language
Not a common form of communication, but a bunch of schools offer sign language classes. Members of the opposite sex will be impressed if you can compliment them on their physical appearance in ASL.

7. RAs
When being upfront doesn’t work, college students sometimes enlist the help of their RA. If you’re trying to go to sleep at normal time every night, but your roommate stays up till 5 a.m. listening to Slipknot at an absurdly loud volume, it might become necessary to ask your Resident Advisor to step in.

8. Instant Messenger
You’ll use this to IM with your roommate even though you’re both in the room. There’s no rhyme or reason to this; it’s just a college thing.

9. Make-Your-Own-Code
This is one of the most important nonverbal ways to communicate with other college students, namely your roommate. For example, if you have a member of the opposite sex over, perhaps you’ll create a system where putting a rubber band around the doorknob indicates to your roommate that s/he should remain scarce. Something subtle like this tends to be more effective than writing on the whiteboard “Nick is here with a lady and he needs his privacy.”

[UPDATED!] 10. The Head Nod
You demanded it, and you got it! The tenth way in which college students communicate is the head nod. Now, I know you were probably hoping that this tenth item would be some sort of mind-boggling, earth-shattering form of nonverbal communication, but don’t underestimate the head nod. When you’re in a rush to class, but you want to make sure to acknowledge your cute dormmate as he walks by, you’ll be thankful for this technique. To perform a proper head nod, simply look at your target and lift your head forty-five degrees. To add emphasis, feel free to experiment with incorporating eye and mouth gestures into your nod. Good luck, and happy head nodding, Sparklers!

What’s your favorite nonverbal form of communication?

Related post: The Real-Life Questions You Need to Ask Your College Tour Guides

Topics: facebook, college, itunes, justin bieber, j.d. salinger, dodgeball, Hannah Montana, Daffodils

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