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The Do’s and Don’ts of Proper Business Etiquette

by South University
April 30, 2013

Business etiquette has seen some pretty drastic changes over the past 5-10 years. What were once considered appropriate mannerisms, proper work attire, and even normal working environments have evolved thanks to changing times and new technology.

“The business environment has become very casual," says Sue Lentini, director of Career Services at South University, Richmond. “Not only do most companies encourage ‘Jean's Friday,’ some allow jeans all the time.”

She also notes that companies have made an effort during the past 5-10 years to allow workers to have more of a work-life balance. “I do see companies becoming more flexible with their off time and working from home options to help parents take care of their families when needed,” Lentini says.

Innovations in technology have also brought about challenges to business etiquette in recent years. Thanks to mobile phones, people don’t have to be at their desk to answer phone calls, enabling them to bring their personal lives right into meetings.

Diane Gottsman, national corporate etiquette and manners expert and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, says proper business etiquette never deems it acceptable for a person to answer their cell phone during a meeting.

“Unless the participants are waiting for the call and it has something to do with the meeting,” Gottsman says. “Otherwise, a cell phone should be left out of the meeting, on your desk, in your briefcase or purse, turned off so it will not vibrate or ring.”

Although personal phone calls should never be taken during meetings, it’s inevitable that sometimes people are going to need to make them during working hours. “Taking an occasional telephone call is not grounds for termination, but calls should be held to a minimum, unless they are important,” Gottsman says.

If possible, she advises waiting until lunchtime or after office hours to conduct personal business. “Keep in mind when sharing close space that there is no such thing as privacy and everyone has the opportunity to listen to your personal calls,” Gottsman says.

While overusing some forms of technology can get workers into trouble, a lack of communication through other modes can also cause problems. For example, many busy professionals have a difficult time keeping up with the email in their inboxes. This makes it easy to forget to reply in a timely manner or even at all, but Gottsman says they should make responding to these messages a priority.

“The professional window to respond is one business day. And, always the sooner the better” she says.

Proper Etiquette on Social Networking Sites

Both Gottsman and Lentini agree that you shouldn’t feel obligated to accept Facebook friend requests from clients and work colleagues.

“You can choose to ignore the request and tell the person the next time you see them that you prefer to keep your site separate from business and you primarily use your site to update family that you don’t see very often,” Gottsman says.

Lentini says LinkedIn is the social networking site that should be used to make connections with business associates.

“As far as the professional website like LinkedIn, I accept everyone because 99% of those that request a connection have an objective to use it for professional purposes,” Lentini says. “As far as Facebook, I do not ‘friend’ students or co-workers. I do not think it’s very acceptable to mix Facebook with your boss or students.”

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. Lentini says it’s okay to accept Facebook friend requests from co-workers that you’ve known for awhile or have built a strong friendship with, if you would like to do so.

“I have received friend requests from colleagues that I didn’t want to accept and I told them that I only have family and college friends that I communicate with and we may then exchange emails or phone numbers to contact each other outside of work,” Lentini says.

Gottsman says job seekers should assume their profiles on social networking sites will be looked at by potential employers.

“Make no mistake that your social media profile will most likely be reviewed, and cleaning up any inappropriate posts, pictures and comments is in your professional best interest,” Gottsman says. “Candidates have been passed over because of posts that other people posted on their page – it is true that you are also judged by the company that you keep.”

Lentini agrees that many companies search for job candidates’ profiles on social media sites, so she tries to make sure her students are responsible with the content they put online.

“I encourage students to make sure they regularly check their security settings on Facebook to make sure they are hidden completely where someone can find them by searching their name but they can’t see photos or their wall or even their friends,” Lentini says.

It’s okay to use social media, she says, but it’s important to make sure you have your privacy settings in place so people can’t view your personal information.

“Even if they are not trying to hide anything, something that I don’t think is offensive, an employer may believe it is,” Lentini says.

Job Interview Tips

One of Lentini’s most important job interview tips for her students is to always wear a suit, even when the employer says it isn’t necessary to do so.

“I do share with the students that if they cannot afford a suit they can always go to a consignment shop for a lot less and find slacks and a jacket that match,” Lentini says. “I believe everyone should have one interview outfit. If you are dressed up you are more likely to present yourself more professionally.”

In general, Gottsman agrees that candidates should always wear a suit to a job interview; however she says there are always exceptions to every rule, so proper attire should be determined based on the job you’re applying for.

“If you are applying for a lifeguard position, a suit and tie may be overkill,” Gottsman says.

Both Lentini and Gottsman advise job candidates to send a thank you note after the interview. They say this should be done immediately following an interview, but absolutely no later than 24 hours afterwards.

A written thank note is the best option, but Lentini says sending an email is also acceptable. It must be personalized with reference to the interview and should ask the employer for the job, she says.

Gottsman recommends sending both an email and a written thank you note. She says you should send an email immediately following a job interview, thanking the interviewer for their time, in addition to a follow-up handwritten note reiterating your interest in the job.

Author: Laura (Jerpi) Woods

by South University
April 30, 2013
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Federal Aid in 4 Steps

by South University
April 30, 2013

The thought of applying for federal student aid--be it loans, grants or scholarships--can be intimidating, but we're here to help! Along with cash payments, employer partnerships, military aid and scholarships, federal aid is one of the many means students may utilize to help finance their education at South University. Here's how you can apply for federal aid in four simple steps.

Calculating a Financial Plan

Step 1: Apply for a PIN

If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to apply for a Personal Identification Number (PIN). In the case of a forgotten or compromised number, request a replacement. It’s important to remember this number for future filing purposes. (Find out what to do if you forgot your PIN.)

Step 2: Gather Relevant Documents

To fill out the FAFSA, you should have certain information on hand. FAFSA will ask about the following:

  • - Your identity (including your social security number)
  • - Your savings and earnings
  • - Your family
  • - Your educational plans and status
  • - Your tax return numbers
  • - Our Federal School Code (013039)

If you are a dependent, the above information will also be needed for your parents. (Check your dependency status here.)

Step 3: Complete Your FAFSA

You’ll need to complete the FAFSA every year you are in school. For the 2013-14 school year, you can apply at until June 30, 2014. (Don't miss the deadline!) The site offers a fast and easy way of entering your tax return information by using the secure IRS Data Retrieval Tool that imports information from the IRS database into your application. The website also offers live, online help and instant access to estimates of how much federal aid you may receive. For additional assistance, contact your Student Finance Counselor.

Step 4: Discuss Your Financial Plan

We typically receive your FAFSA information within a few weeks of you completing the online application. Once we review your information and determine your eligibility for aid, you will be informed of the grants, scholarships and loans for which you qualify. Your Student Finance Counselor will work closely with you to establish your financial plan, taking into account your federal aid as well as any other means you are using to finance your education.

For More Information


by South University
April 30, 2013
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Why I Recommend South University

by Student
April 25, 2013

By Guest Blogger, Sherry Boyce
Student at South University

I have been a student of South University going on four years. I found out about South through a search for online education. At the time, I had no dependable transportation and needed a good, reliable online college to obtain my degree. South University is accredited, which was one of the important things that I took into consideration while looking for an online college.

I first enrolled in the Associate of Science in Allied Health Science program and I am now working on my Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management. I like the online environment because it is very convenient for students to work or attend to family and still earn their degree for future careers. The online classrooms are easy to navigate and the instructors are friendly and caring. The staff is also very friendly and they work really hard to help you in any way possible.

I have a friend, Sarah Hinkle, that I have been friends with since high school. Like many, she wanted to continue her education but her busy schedule prevented her from doing so. I recommended her to South University and she just recently enrolled. Over the last three years that I have been a student, I have recommended five of my friends to the school and all of them have been pleased.

I have been glad to be a student at South University and would highly recommend it to anyone. They have helped me in achieving my goals for my future and also allowed me to help many friends achieve their goals as well. Thank you South University for helping me, Sarah and many others achieve their goals in life!

If you are a current student of South University, you too can help someone get started on a journey of personal and professional growth by clicking here to Refer a Friend today.

by Student
April 25, 2013
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Introducing the New Campus Common Mobile Site

by South University
April 23, 2013

Campus Common Mobile Version 2.0 is here!

Log in today to the Campus Common ( from your smartphone or tablet to access the new, easy-to-use site. View your grades, campus or class announcements and upcoming assignments; read and respond to discussion questions; and call or email key contacts with one click.

Mobile Site Screenshot

If you’ve already been using the mobile site at, you can continue to use this URL to access the redesigned and more robust Campus Common Mobile 2.0 site. This mobile site is a convenient way to access the Campus Common when you are out and about, but you’ll still need your computer for attending class. The mobile site is not designed to be your primary tool for going to school.

For more information and FAQs about Campus Common Mobile 2.0, download this student guide. Please also feel free to contact your Academic Counselor with questions about the new mobile site.

If you log in to the Campus Common from your computer, you may also notice a few changes to the Top Stories area. We hope these changes will make it easier for you to find and read the announcements that interest you.

Watch the Campus Common Mobile 2.0 video here!

by South University
April 23, 2013
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Happy Earth Day

by South University
April 22, 2013

Today is Earth Day 2013! As an online student, you’re probably already being environmentally friendly, even if you don't realize it. When you use the Digital Bookshelf, you’re not buying as many paper textbooks, and when you turn in digital copies of your assignments, you're not printing out long reports. Since you're already being green in one aspect of your life, why not honor Earth Day with some responsible spring cleaning as well? Here's how.

Learn What Electronics You Can Recycle and Why

Earth Day globe

Do you have old cell phones sitting around your home? A television? Printer? Camera? Computer? With our world of ever-changing technology and innovation, what’s new quickly becomes old and out-of-date, meaning that lots of electronics end up in the garbage.

When this happens, not only are we filling landfills with items that don’t decompose quickly, but dangerous chemicals such as mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium can leak into the soil and contaminate the earth. If you’re no longer using these items, it's best to recycle them rather than throw them away.

No matter what you are recycling, make sure you delete any personal data from the device. If it’s a computer, find someone at a local computer store to help you wipe the hard drive. You can also find instructions online on properly deleting information from your cell phone and other electronics.

Find Out Where to Recycle Electronics

First, consider that you might not even need to recycle your device. You may be able to trade it in for an upgrade or sell it at a yard sale or online (check out You can also donate certain used electronic devices. For example, organizations such as Cell Phones for Soldiers, 911 Cell Phone Bank and National Coalition against Domestic Violence accept used cell phones for great causes.

If you do choose to recycle your electronics, many retailers (including Target, Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples and Walmart) frequently provide drop boxes for doing so at their locations. Manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, LG and Dell also commonly offer e-cycling programs. Sites like, can also help you to find a recycling location near you.


by South University
April 22, 2013
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