Hey juniors! I bet you can’t wait for Thanksgiving. The parade, the pie, the post-dinner coma…

Just kidding, I bet you’re dreading it! Because let’s be honest, you know Aunt Jean is coming in hot:

“So, college applications next year! Where will you apply?”

“Oh, you know… can you pass the stuffing?”

Our family and friends mean well, but they have a knack for putting a damper on Thanksgiving with constant questions about college plans… or career plans… or property acquisition plans… am I projecting? Anyway, I thought you could use some pre-Thanksgiving tips for when the conversation inevitably turns toward you and your looming future. Here you go and happy turkey day!

Set some ground rules: Consider spreading the word through a few close family members that college talk will be off-limits this year. Save your sanity. Thank me later.

Remind yourself that your opinion is the only one that matters: Everyone around the table will have opinions no matter what you say. This is your process, not theirs. So take in useful tidbits (“My friend’s daughter is there, I could ask if she could talk on the phone about it if you want!”) and ignore everything else (i.e. sentences that start with “I heard…” “I read…” or “US News and World Report says…”).

Let others ramble: Consider coming in with a few ideas (“I’m thinking about small liberal arts colleges!” or “I’d really like to be close to home!”) and then let others opine. While they do, refer back to my previous point. Giving everyone around the table a jumping off point allows you to sit back and enjoy the mashed potatoes while they ramble about research universities and their own time in undergrad.

If none of the tips above sounds appealing, I invite you to use these escape hatch responses to the college question:

  • Does it smell like something’s burning?
  • Did you know [insert sibling’s name here] is considering getting a tattoo?
  • So who did everyone vote for? (Just kidding, guys, never use this.)

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