If you heard about, but never quite understood, what a “school cotillion”, well, join the club! We practice etiquette and manners and we sit around in chairs stiffening our backs.
A school cotillion amounts to a special event in your school, for students who want to get an idea of what it is like to become an adult and do adult things. Suppose you are interested in attending a school cotillion or getting your child into one: this article will give you a thorough description of the history, purpose, and eligibility of a school cotillion.
What is a High School Cotillion?
A school cotillion is probably not something you would see in your school, though if you did, you likely would never hear the end of it. To many, it is seen as a special and unique kind of program, one for classy people; the men who would walk around in black and white tuxedo suits and the women who would stride around the ballroom in long frilly dresses and long gloves.
However, while taking its roots from that history, modern interpretations of a cotillion are much more open, inviting, and focused on prepping students into becoming well-mannered and socially adjusted adults who can handle themselves and interact with other people.
A school cotillion is a program focused on giving the school’s students a course on future concepts and ideas; things that adults are expected to do in their adult life well after elementary school, middle school, high school, and even college.
The history of a school cotillion would stretch back pretty far, back into the antiquity days. They typically take the appearance and atmosphere of those old days, with fancy suits and dresses.
A student enters a school cotillion to become a better-prepared adult in the future. But what is the express purpose of a cotillion?
What is the Purpose of a Cotillion?
As any school or student group would tell you, the primary purpose of a cotillion is to ultimately impart a fun, unintrusive way for young people, students, and other children to learn and practice manners, etiquette, and social skills in a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. Of course, the exact skills and manners and how many of those things may depend on the cotillion program.
In a general sense, we should say that the purpose of a cotillion is to impart on the young, impressionable students a slew of social skills and etiquette that will help them in their future as adults. School cotillion programs will often teach their students a variety of skills and concepts, including:
- How to pay bills, including how to save money and negotiate with the people who handle your bills,
- How, as a citizen of the United States, to register to vote and be informed on whom to vote,
- File taxes and submit the tax forms to the IRS to avoid complications from alleged tax evasion,
- Apply for a loan (a mortgage, a regular loan, etc.) and handle the credit and paperwork involved,
- Buying a car and paying for car installments to have the freedom to drive and get to places when you need to get there,
- Paying utilities such as rent, electricity, gas, etc.,
- Make a budget for every one of these previously mentioned skills and beyond,
- And finally, how to dress for a job interview and get yourself a job.
These are generally heavy concepts for a student to handle, and it will certainly not catch their attention immediately (what child thinks about how to file taxes or apply for a car loan?), but it is useful per their growth as a fine-upstanding citizen.
Who Goes to a Cotillion?
The school cotillion has its history in old-fashioned groups; typically the old-fashioned, fancy balls on a landowner’s private property, where kids can socialize with other rich kids and the adults can socialize with other affluent adults.
As a brief history lesson, the cotillion has its roots in the early 18th century France and England, made exclusive for the upper-class children, typically white and affluent young women who were expected to take a domestic life in the future. They would be taught and raised to be the next generation of the aristocracy. The tradition made it across the ocean to the southern states of the United States of America. Eventually, African American groups also adopted these traditions.
Today, we see the skills for adulthood as borderline necessary for any up-and-coming adult in the world, regardless of race or gender.
Outside of the demographics of the children, the kind of child who would go to a cotillion would be more shy kids, those who have been unable to find the time and the place to spread their social butterfly wings. As such, these programs are usually reserved for very young children—students who are just going through elementary school learning basic mathematics to moving up to middle school and being forced to read classic literature like Of Mice and Men. However, it is not unheard of for these programs to be for older students, or even adults who feel like they have missed out on some proper etiquette education and not being in a cotillion.
Unfortunately, there is still the matter of paying for these classes. How much does the cotillion cost? Well, they typically cost around $250 – $400 a semester for a high school student, which is asking for quite a lot.
Ultimately, the kind of students and people who go to a cotillion depends on the people organizing the cotillion. The cotillion could be part of a school effort or simply a specific, smaller club. It could belong to an entirely different group or organization, such as a country club, which may or may not invite students. Alternatively, it can be intensely private or belong to a private school. In most instances, students in a school cotillion do not have to pay to enter it (though they may have had to pay to join the group).
What Do They Teach You at a Cotillion?
A school cotillion teaches you various skills based on the idea of a fully-grown, properly raised adult with the social skills and etiquette to go through any situation.
The skills they teach you in a cotillion are expected to be the skills that adults are expected to have. Students who go through a cotillion program and understand how to use these skills.
Students would sit around at fancy-looking tables. Your instructors would force you to understand posture by making you sit up in those fancy-looking chairs. You would be expected to strike a conversation with other students, and a variety of them at that, from boys to girls to students of other races to older kids, younger children, and even the adults.
Schools take the cotillion very seriously, but not too seriously that the children cannot have fun. You are not sitting around in a classroom behind a desk, listening as the teacher gives a boring lecture. You are becoming a productive part of society, and being an adult is always fun! These are events and practices made for people who would go to parties and other events, after all, so there is a sense of sociability that prevents it from becoming simple schoolwork.
Cotillion vs. Debutante Ball: What’s the Difference?
Some may confuse a cotillion with a similar concept: the debutante ball. While they may look and seemingly function the same, there are a few key differences that we would like to mention in order for you to keep up and ahead from other students who may end up at the wrong place at the wrong time without this knowledge.
A debutante ball (also known as a “coming-out party”; no, not that kind of coming-out party) is a formal ball in which participants use their learned etiquette. These, like a cotillion, were typically made with young women in mind (a “debutante,” or “deb,” refers to a young and upper-crust, or aristocratic woman), for those who were old enough to be married. Men present at these balls were bachelors and potential marriage candidates for these young women. But, again, like the cotillion, the debutante ball expanded to include men and women of many different ages and does not necessarily have to be about picking out your future spouse.
Besides the debutante ball being typically associated with older people, commonly adults, there is not much difference between the two in effect, including the very similar atmosphere and inspiration from the more old-fashioned and royal traditions.
To sum it up, a school cotillion is a specific curriculum to teach the students how to become adults, and a debutante ball is the graduation party. Once you finish up your cotillion program, you would be expected to show your stuff at the ball and interact with people and adults in different programs.
Wrapping Things Up: What is a High School Cotillion?
A high school cotillion is an event where children start to become adults and be prepared for adult life. If you want you and/or your child, to understand the importance of good manners, socialization, and how to properly pay off your car installments, then you should head up to your local high school cotillion as soon as possible. Hopefully, we will see you at the ball!