Newport Manners & Etiquette: Muddling through College Acceptances

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


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Who fits where with college acceptances

Anxious parents accepting the college outcomes, how to wear high-tech fitness bracelets without looking geeky, the retirement talk, and how do we get the borrowed pearls back from the bride? All questions to Didi Lorillard this week at

Who Fits Where with College Acceptances

Our twins have heard from their colleges. The problem is one is going to an ivy league school and the other was accepted at a college nobody has ever heard of. People we know ask and noticeably become uncomfortable when and I tell them. Yesterday, a perfectly smart friend congratulated me on one and said, "Oh dear, I'm sorry" about the second. I've learned not to gloat and to be grateful it turned out as well as it did. Any ideas as to how to politely respond. Aside from saying "bugger off" R.D., Providence

You can start by saying, "Thanks for asking." Then depending on the situation. "Getting in is just the beginning. We still have a long way to go." (As you know, college kids today are more dependent on parents for a longer period of time than previous generations, because late adolescence is longer.) Take the higher road. No need to explain. In other words, it doesn't matter where they are going, because wherever they land will be a good fit and you're going to be there for them. ~Didi

Giving fitness style

For her birthday, I bought my wife an expensive bracelet she wanted to wear all the time. It seemed like a romantic idea at the time of the purchase, but she always wears it with a plastic fitness bracelet. It pisses me off that she cheapens my gift. Is it rude of her to disrespect my gift? J.W., Providence

Give your wife credit for making her fitness wrist-computer look chic. If your wife is clever enough to pair her electronic wristband with your band of love, there's nothing wrong with letting her create her own style statement. All she is saying is that being healthy is her style. ~Didi

The retirement talk

I've been thinking about taking early retirement, however, my wife is keen on working for 12 more years. I'm not sure what this has to do with etiquette except I'm fearful of how the dynamics in our relationship will change and I want to do this right. B.H., San Francisco

Have a sit down. Talk it out. When partners don't have the same retirement timeframe they need to talk not only about their financial plans, but what happens if they have to dip into their retirement for unforeseen expenses. Do the math. Inevitably, you both will have to adjust your emotional and mental thinking. ~Didi

Something borrowed should be returned

My mother loaned her pearls to my niece for her wedding. These pearls are bequeathed to me in my mother's will. How does my mother ask my niece for the return of the pearls now that the wedding is over? My fear is that if the pearls aren't returned while my mother is still alive I will be put in the uncomfortable position of asking my niece and I would like to avoid this if possible. D.W., Palm Beach

Your mother should phone her newly married granddaughter to ask her how she is doing. Then after the small talk about the honeymoon, the wedding, and the new apartment, etc., she should say she would like to get her pearls back because she wants to wear them herself. If, in fact, she isn't going anywhere soon, it doesn't matter. She doesn't have to lie, all she has to say is that she wants to wear them. Then your mother should make a plan to pick the pearls up or invite her for tea, coffee, lunch or dinner, at which time your niece would return the pearls. Give the busy new bride the benefit of the doubt. I don't know how long she has had the pearls, but if she doesn't cooperate with her grandmother, then you may have to phone her to say that your mother really wants her pearls back and you're calling to arrange for pickup. If for any reason the pearls no longer fit your mother, you want them back to get them restrung. Good pearls should be restrung from time to time depending on how often they are worn. ~Didi


Do you have a question for Didi? Visit her at We can withhold your name and location. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Previous weekly columns may be found by typing in Didi Lorillard in the above righthand search.


Related Slideshow: New England Colleges With the Best Undergraduate Teaching

U.S. News & World Report released a survey conducted in 2013 of college administrators on the best schools for undergraduate teaching. Several New England made their lists for best National Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, and Regional Universities. See which schools made the lists in the slides below: 

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National Universities

9. Brown University

Providence, RI 
Students: 6,435
2013-14 Tuition: $45,612
Admissions: 9.6% Acceptance Rate
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National Universities

5. Yale University 

New Haven, CT
Students: 5,405
2013-14 Tuition: $44,000
Admissions: 7.0% Acceptance Rate
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National Universities

1. Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH
Students: 4,193
2013-14 Tuition: $46,752
Admissions: 9.8% Acceptance Rate
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Liberal Arts Colleges

18. Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley, MA 
Students: 2,322
2013-14 Tuition: $41,456
Admissions: 42.1% Acceptance Rate
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Liberal Arts Colleges

9. Amherst College

Amherst, MA
Students: 1,817 
2013-14 Tuition: $46,574
Admissions: 13.0% Acceptance Rate
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Liberal Arts Colleges

5. Williams College

Williamstown, MA
Students: 2,052
2013-14 Tuition: $46,600
Admissions: 17.0% Acceptance Rate
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Regional Univ. - North

4. Fairfield University

Fairfield, CT
Students: 3,879
2013-14 Tuition: $42,920
Admissions: 71.2% Acceptance Rate
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Regional Univ. - North

2. Providence College

Providence, RI
Students: 3,810
2013-14 Tuition: $42,206
Admissions: 61.0%

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