You can be posh at uni without being a complete tool
Find out how
‘Tis a truth universally acknowledged British Universities are awash with over-privileged private school wankers. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re one of them.
The one per cent are more than over represented at top level-Universities. Even recently Oxbridge professor Diane Reay shamed her own employers as “institutionally racist” heads of a glorified “finishing school” for the private system.
With this kind of stigma around, you may be thinking it’s best for you to downplay your poshness, both for your own sake and for everyone who has to put up with you.
We’ve all suffered the terrifying moment when you arrive on campus and realise the closes friends you’ve made are not at all like the buttery little darlings with whom you went to prep school. Now all your friends look like super-edgy scensters from the former Soviet Block. The desire to fit in can be overwhelming.
Reference your home life as vaguely as possible
A bit of self-censorship goes a long way here. There’s no need to be ashamed of your upbringing, and don’t lie about it – they’ll think it’s patronising. Just consider very carefully before you start complaining about the fuel efficiency of Daddy’s Jaguar, or arguing at length about which enclosure you prefer at Ascot.
Keeping the details to yourself and only loosely alluding to your family chateau in St. Moritz will help keep the eye-rolling of your new friends to a minimum.
No, it’s not just about red trousers. Your class is more visible in your outfits than anywhere else, and if you’re looking to underplay how often Mummy and Daddy take you skipping along to Harvey Nicks at the weekend, then dressing down on a night out is a good place to start.
This may mean fewer occasions to rock your beloved Barbours in winter, and only making the most executive use of your Polo collection in summertime.
The rule is; if it looks like you’re heading to the golf course, don’t wear it to a house party.
Refer to your parents as ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’
Mater and Pater, Mumma and Pappa, Mummy dearest, Daddykins. These modes of address are so much of a giveaway. If you’re still using them in conversation you may as well get the word “bubble” tattooed across your pale, aristocratic forehead.
Your parents are not at University with you. You can call them what you want now. Referring to them with these horrendous patronyms indicates your parents are still in charge of your life, and you’re still living entirely out of their pocket. This will not help you. Even saying “mummy” with the right intonation, can get you into trouble.
You’re a grown up now: start speaking like one. On which note…
Don’t try and fuck about with your accent
Alongside the way you dress, your clipped upper-class accent is one of the most obvious indicators of wealth and background you have, and it’s also probably the most difficult to shake. So don’t try.
The temptation you will feel to slacken your Queen’s English and use fewer syllables at a time to express yourself is understandable, but also completely misguided. It’ll never work – you are not Daniel Day-Lewis.
Dropping the occasional T and chewing up your L sounds is not going to counterbalance the practiced purr of your vowels enough to convince anyone you’re more working class than them.
At best, you’ll look like a try-hard. At worst, you’ll end up reducing your expensively cultivated Received Pronunciation to an insufferably milky Sloane croak. Drowning in vocal fry, reminding people of Made in Chelsea, and sounding even more entitled than you already did.
Don’t complain about being marginalised because you are posh
This is important. Remember all those times people told you to “check your privilege” before answering a question? People say it for a reason.
No one is accusing you of being too thick or naïve to contribute, but sometimes, you simply won’t get it. Because your life has been (supposedly) easy so far, you are going to lack the authority to comment on certain issues. You have to deal with it.
This doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to be excluded from debates because of who you are. But do always remember that being perceived as posh is nothing to complain about.
If someone attempts to nullify your argument by referencing your race or background, politely ask them what exactly it has to do with it. If they can muster a decent answer with some intellectual consistency to it, then it’s up to you to accept it. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t.
The stereotypical upper class wanker will consider themselves a definitive voice in every socio-political discussion. You can downplay your poshness, and be a less of a dick, by meekly avoiding this sort of behaviour. When you find yourself in a situation where it is appropriate for you to keep your mouth shut, do so.
Don’t talk, just listen. Heaven knows, you might learn something.