The professor had to cut some people from the class, because at my university, most seminars are capped (but the administration is a little dodgy, and so sometimes forgets to put an enrollment cap) but she did her best to take as many as possible and as a result we are packed quite tightly around the table. This is actually also fine, I much prefer it to another seminar-style class I am taking in which the ten or so of us spread out as though at least five of us suffer from a highly contagious and/or disgusting disease, like leprosy or bad breath.
Anyway, being tightly packed around the table is great, because it facilitates communication, and it keeps everyone awake (hey,
The downside, however, is that whenever in this class, you are close to others. Like, Listerine close. Did I remember antiperspirant close. Did someone have a bacon, egg and cheese for breakfast close (actually, you totally don't need to be in a tightly packed seminar room for that, first year I took a three-hundred person lecture and this one student would always bring a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from the nearby deli and the room would smell all cheesy-bacon-y-sweaty).
Recently, I was minding my business, taking notes and so on when I was unfortunate enough to turn and notice that someone near me had exceptionally large, dirty pores, dirty glasses, frizzy hair, etc. Now, I have been a frumpy student once or twice, and the usual excuses are pretty obvious (early classes, no one notices, I'm too much of an academic to care) but none of them impress me. Seriously. I am an extremely hard working student who has pushed myself to the limit many, many times. But I care to much about my body and the way I present myself to others to just abandon reasonable health and beauty measures.
Now, I know Mona Lisa Smile was a so-so movie (and the tie in book was much, much worse), but I'm using it as an example. Yes, the attitude of these fictional mid-century women is deplorable by modern standards (I only know one or two people who are legitimately seeking affectionately titled Mrs. degrees these days), but for the most part the portrayal in the movie is one of women who are diligent about school and appearance. These women are ladies, and they would skip neither their homework nor a thank you note to an annoying but lovable aunt. Yes, Hollywood magic is at work and I doubt anyone was ever the perfect fifties housewife or the perfect forties co-ed, and I wouldn't ask anyone trying to meet the demands of a top-tier education to set their standards this high.
But, when you know you're going to class, and sitting around a table, would it hurt to put on something decent and wash your face? Clean your glasses, brush your hair and floss? I don't think so. It takes about twenty minutes to do all those things, and unless you're deathly ill, I bet you can afford to cut sleep by twenty minutes. This goes right along with wearing something respectable to class (which Meg over at All About Appearances covers really excellently in this post). Maybe it sounds rude to criticize others for their appearance, but it's rude to the professor and rude to your fellow students to show up looking like you couldn't care less about being there.