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MIT "Charm School"

Should you speak to strangers when riding in an elevator? At what point in an interview should you ask about salary? How do you write a pleasant thank-you note for a gift you hated? How do you ask for a date?

The answers to these questions and many others can be found at MIT's fifth annual Charm School on Thursday, Jan. 30. The event has become an MIT tradition and garnered nationwide fame.

Etiquette-related subjects will be taught in an informal atmosphere from noon-4 pm in Lobbies 7 and 10. Students are free to choose from the many topics offered. Subjects covered will include Nerd Love (Asking for a Date), Clothing Statements, Ballroom Dance, Buttering Up Big Shots, Small Talk, Impressive Interviewing, Body Language, Overcoming Shyness, Table Manners, and many more.

Among the new subjects this year will be Hello, World (international manners), hosting and attending parties, and networking.

Students may earn "charm credits" toward a formal Charm School "degree." A bachelor's degree is awarded for completing six subjects, a master's for eight and a PhD for 12. Degrees will be awarded by President Charles M. Vest at the Charm School Commencement from 4:30-5pm in Lobby 10.

The Charm School faculty is made up of MIT faculty, staff and student volunteers. The only prerequisite for teaching is to have a particular area of expertise -- be it joke-telling, e-mail protocol, faculty-student communication or anything else -- -and a willingness to share the knowledge.

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