Going off campus for a dinner can be a fun way to burn through some hard earned Christmas money and pretend that you and your friends are functional adults for a few hours. But seeing as your last hundred meals were in a highly under-regulated campus dining hall, take note of these real-world faux pas of any legitimate eatery.
Though I don't recommend attempting this, it is possible to do a solo lunch in the dining hall without looking like a total L-7 weenie. If you have enough fake school work laid out in front of you and/or you pretend to be on a funny enough phone call, you can just barely get through a meal without the whole room feeling bad for you. There are no such preventative measures for the independent diner in a restaurant. Everyone will assume you either got stood up by your date or are treating yourself to one last quiet evening before tomorrow's shooting spree.
Even vaguely knowing a student staff member at the dining hall is huge. It means double portions on everything and cornucopias of leftovers if you're there around closing time. A personal connection to restaurant staff is far less meaningful. You probably only know the bus boy and since he's not even supposed to be stealing food for himself, he's certainly not going to risk his job for you. Even if you do know the owner, this probably means only a free appetizer or two, not the entire vat of leftover soup.
If you're smart enough to go to college, you're smart enough to sneak into the dining hall without swiping your card. Even if you do get caught in this operation it will likely yield little more than a slap on the wrist and a semester full of glares from the staff. In the real world, not swiping the far more meaningful "credit card" (sp?) makes you an actual criminal. There is no way to smile and charm your way out of this offense and it could seriously damage your financial credit, which is harder to repair than your reputation with Brian the Soup Guy.
Playing the Shifts is a move only attempted by the pros, but it's a brilliant way to double your meal credits. Step 1: Swipe into the dining hall in the last 5 minutes of lunch hours, Step 2: Eat, Step 3: Hide out in the dining hall until dinner hours, Step 4: Eat. While a brilliant and lucrative tactic in the dining hall, this is completely impossible in a restaurant. They don't let you pay at the door and they do this weird thing where they charge you for the exact amount of goods that you consumed. Pretty tricky of them, yeah?
Sneaking booze in for a Friday dinner is College 101, but it's significantly more difficult to pull this off in the real world. Unfortunately, restaurants are far less hectic than a dining hall, and a staff member is bound to notice that you keep taking your sodas to the bathroom and bringing them back full every time. They also have these people called "waiters" who have a habit of checking in with you right when you're topping off your Shirley Temple under the table cloth.