Fake It 'till We Make It: Why Aren't College-Aged Students Taken Seriously?

Please raise your hand if you have been personally victimized by Regina George.

Okay, maybe not Regina George, but raise your hand if you have been personally victimized or discriminated against by someone simply because you are a college-aged person.

This Nationwide commercial that has become a viral sensation over the past few weeks that shows children, dressed as adults, who do not get treated fairly and are being overlooked when making purchasing decisions, eating at ‘fancier’ restaurants, or, for Nationwide’s sake, trying to make a claim on their car insurance.

While the commercial shows children, this still holds true to us as college students.

My roommate and I had just moved into an apartment and excitedly began shopping around for a new navy couch to put in our barren living room. We searched all over Wilmington, and I mean everywhere. I would dare to say we went to at least six furniture stores to find the perfect couch that we would both love. Our excitement quickly faded as we entered and exited each store without a couch and without being approached by one salesman. Some may call this lucky, no salesman hounding us into something we didn’t want; the problem was we didn’t know what we were doing and actually wanted help! We left each store more and more frustrated, ready to stop looking, when we looked at each other and asked, “Why are we going to spend $700 at a store that clearly doesn’t want us?” Out of the five furniture stores we visited in Wilmington, only one took us seriously and walked around with us assisting us and answering our questions.

The Nationwide commercial, while it is cute and funny, holds true to people much older like college kids who are still not taken seriously in the ‘real world’. There are stereotypes that circulate about college kids: we are careless, party too often, live off our parent’s money and we walk in and out of stores without making a single purchase. Is this true? In college I have met some of the most driven individuals, people who haven’t been to a single fraternity party and don’t ask their parents for a single penny. We may not have the expendable funds that other, older adults have or have the ability to drop $100 at a boutique in Mayfaire, but if I spend $30 that is still my money I am choosing to spend at an establishment-- so why can’t we be taken as seriously as the 30-year-old who is shopping? 

I wish I had a magic answer and could simply say “do this and people will take us seriously,” but I don’t. There is no one cure-all for the college stereotypes that our society has.

The only thing I know to say is let’s prove them wrong, let’s kill them with kindness and prove every harsh or neglectful salesperson wrong.

The next time you are in line at a customer service counter and no one is taking you seriously or is trying to write you off, stand tall and be confident. Show them you have money to spend and your money will spend just the same as the 40-year-old businessmen’s money behind you. Remember they were once in your shoes; most people have gone through the scrutiny of being a college aged individual and had to break through the stereotypes. We’ve simply got to fake it ‘till we make it.