If you have ever watched “Alice in Wonderland” you probably remember the immortal words of the unpunctual White Rabbit, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date!” Whether you are looking forward to college or are already there, now is the time to make it a habit to be early to whatever task, meeting, appointment, party, and class you must attend. I can tell you, now being in the professional world and from my time in college, that if you have somewhere to be, you do not want to be running behind. It’s why I am now committed to the “five minute rule.”

It’s amazing the difference five minutes can make in any situation, giving yourself the time to relax into the experience at hand. For those in high school and college, developing relationships with your teachers and peers are paramount to getting as much out of class as possible. In five minutes, you can find a seat near the front. I’ve always done better in classes in which I’ve sat at the front, the only B’s I’ve gotten in college have been in classes I’ve opted to sit in the back. There is a real psychology to it. In five minutes, you can take the chance to meet those sitting around you. More often than not, if you do sit up front, they will be the brightest students in the class. FYI, if you have group projects, you want to work with THESE people! In five minutes, you have a chance to strike up conversation with the professor. They will act as your best source for letters of recommendation and help you to do well (be lenient in rescheduling exams or assignments), and developing this relationship can lead to career opportunities through their network. I cannot stress enough the value of showing your appreciation to your professors by being on time and giving them some attention. To court opportunity and win her heart, it’s the precious time you allot to being early in which she presents herself most favorably.

In the classroom

In class, you build relationships and impressions over several sessions, giving those you engage with a fuller picture of who you are. That does not hold true when it comes to preparing for an interview, an important (class grade is on the line) presentation, or a first date.

For the purpose of this article let’s stick to interviews and presentations; we don’t want to get too personal. In both situations, I have been early, on time, and late. Of the three, being early is the only advantageous option. Let me share with you why it may be to your disadvantage to be just on time or late, since it may be the best way to shed light on this topic’s magnitude.

Whether it’s an interview or presentation, however, you reach your destination (walking, biking, or driving) you will look and feel stressed, and leave someone waiting for your arrival.

Let’s delve into the impression being late leaves with your audience. Being late impresses nobody, helps nobody, and will result in no return for you; it’s as simple as that. If you’re being interviewed to assess if you should win that amazing scholarship to cover the costs of studying abroad next semester, do you think you’ll be awarded the scholarship if you show up on time with your hair out of place or show up late? Immediately, those assessing you have made up their minds that you don’t deserve the award even with your 3.7 GPA and Honors classes. To them, you have already conveyed how little interest or time you care to put towards this amazing opportunity.

On a different note, let’s say you are early. You have had time to prepare, and have made that good first impression by being on time, but unfortunately don’t get the scholarship. Those interviewers won’t be embarrassed to share your name with others offering similar opportunities. Whether you get the scholarship/job/internship or not, you come out ahead. You have a choice to be your best ally or your worst enemy, and it relies on that initial punctuality.

Plan ahead of time and have a calendar handy to remind yourself of your daily appointments and assignments. Then, be it an alarm or an app (like Evernote), set a reminder that you need to leave in _____ minutes and then a reminder that you need to leave RIGHT NOW.

These reminders should give you enough time to wrap up what you’re currently doing and arrive at your location with a couple minutes (I use five minutes) to spare. It’s well worth the little time it takes to program into your phone or other device.

To develop that nasty reputation, like the rabbit in Alice and Wonderland, among your classmates, professors, and interviewers as “the late one, always running behind” will leave you with little support and respect inside and out of the classroom. Become your best advocate, adhere to the “five minute rule.”

• Ahwatukee resident Armani Del Franco, a graduate of the University of Arizona, is owner of Silverback College Planning LLC. Reach him at (602) 930-8060 or armani@silverbackcollegeplanningllc.com.

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