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I was a high school senior not so long ago. So I know firsthand just how frustrating, annoying, and tiresome it can be to hear questions such as “So where are you applying to college?” and “How many AP classes are you taking this year?” at least eight times during any family gathering or holiday party, not to mention having to field these questions on the daily at school amongst friends, fellow classmates, and teachers.
It’s one of those things that every high school senior must put up with to some degree, and everyone’s patience wears thin at some point. Some people handle the bombardment of questions with grace, but if you’re anything like me, you might need some help getting through these moments without rolling your eyes incessantly and sighing in exasperation. Here are some tips on how to deal with the same old questions when you just don’t feel like repeating the answer for the fifteenth time.
1. Seize the opportunity to learn something new about others!
During application season, I was sometimes baffled by why so many people wanted to know the exact same thing about me, over and over again. For example, why does it matter to my neighbors whose children are barely out of preschool where I’m headed to college? Even if they hadn’t already heard from my mom, my college list isn’t really relevant to their lives now, is it?
So next time those friendly neighbors decide to pop in for a visit and ask about your college list, ask them about what their children are doing instead! “Oh I had no idea little Fred is already thinking about college too! Just out of preschool and already preparing for higher education; he must be one smart fella!”
2. Phone a friend; redirect the question to someone else to answer for you!
This works great; I’ve seen teachers use this strategy all the time when that one kid who never pays attention decides to ask when the latest test grade will be returned, and the teacher had just answered it for the fourth time. Instead of simply uttering the words “next Tuesday” for a fifth time in three minutes, the teacher will ask a student to repeat the answer. Teachers can mix it up once in awhile too, you know.
So, if a classmate ever comes up to you to ask if you’re applying ED anywhere, just call over the acquaintance that’s always hanging around you. “Hey Mary, Abby told me that you heard from Susan who heard from Mark that I’m applying to so-and-so ED; would you be so kind as to come over here and field this question for me? Thanks so much!”
3. Be vague.
When in doubt, just say “I don’t know.” There’s no better answer, because it literally works for all situations. “What colleges are you applying to?” I don’t know. “What are you going to write about for your CommonApp essay?” I don’t know. “When are applications due?” I don’t know. “At this rate, do you think you’ll get into college?” I don’t know. See? You can’t go wrong.
4. Use this as a teaching opportunity to show others how the education system works!
As a senior in high school (and sometimes as a junior too), I used to get well-intentioned but misguided comments from parents such as the following: “You have such a good work ethic; you’ve definitely got what it takes to be a doctor and I’m sure you’ll excel in med school! And after a while, all I could think in response was, “I’m sorry, did I even tell you I wanted to be a doctor? And even if I did, isn’t it a bit early to be commenting about medical school?”
So if anyone ever tries to tell you what a wonderful graduate student you’d make, be sure to catch them up on how the order of schooling works. “You do realize that I have to get into college, finish college, and get into med school before I can even start my path of becoming a doctor, right?” They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness for cluing them in.
In all seriousness though, sometimes these adults (and peers) deserve a break. Being on the flip side now and watching current high school seniors go through the same application process, I have to admit that I’m also curious about where my neighbors, family friends, and friends’ younger siblings are planning to apply and/or go to college. I’m even prone to asking current high school students the exact same questions that once plagued me, and back then I had sworn to myself I would never do such a thing to those younger than me.
I can see more and more now where adults are coming from when they ask high school students what their college plans are. Not only is it an easy and time-relevant conversation topic, curiosity is also really hard to stifle sometimes, having gone through the same process themselves (and in my case, not all too long ago, which makes my curiosity (and sympathy) about the process all the more heightened). So as frustrating as it may be fielding the same questions for months on end, just try to bear with it as best as you can; after all, you’ll be gone and off to college in less than a year, so at least you know the light at the end of the tunnel is near!
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