The Question Every Senior Dreads

“So, do you know where you want to go to college yet?” This is the first question I’m asked once the words, “I’m a senior in high school” escape my mouth. Senior year is meant to be the peak of high school; in a world of hierarchy seniors are the kings to the lowly underclassmen. Except in a world of glory, there’s one topic that can frustrate any senior, including myself: College.

Where do you want to go to college? What’s your #1 school? Have you finished your college applications? Do you know what you want to major in when you go to College? College. College. College. Every time I’m asked one of these questions I get an instant migraine. My insides are trying not twist into a pretzel, but it’s a struggle. And here the question comes again, “Do you know where you want to go to college?” I give a half way smirk and I think to myself, “Why? Can we just not talk about college?” But, that’s the voice inside my head. The kinder, more mature part of me decides I probably shouldn’t say that out loud and responds with a more polite answer hoping that my face didn’t give away what I was truly thinking. But, if you’re anything like me, when you are asked about college you don’t feel like sharing your whole life story. The key is to answer the question without really answering the question. Confusing, I know. I’ve got this down to a science:

Here’s the Humorous way: “Do you know where you want to go to college?” My response, “Eh, I don’t think I really want to go. College has twin-sized beds and that just doesn’t sound fun. How can you fan out across a twin bed?” Usually this leads to some laughter and a change of subject about how small the dorm rooms are and a memory of when they fit 15 people into their room when they were in college. Thus, giving you the opportunity to ask them about when they were in college, and the good times they had verses sharing every bit of detail about yourself. The hard part is you still have to listen, be entrigued, and engage. The conversation isn’t over—you just redirected the question onto them.

If you aren’t feeling the Humorous option there is always the “Clueless” option: act as if you haven’t thought about college at all. “Do you know where you want to go to college?” the vague response, (takes a deep breath in) “I’m looking at a lot of places. Some are in the Midwest, a few on the east coast, and a couple in California. I’m all over. I don’t know. I think I want to be far from home, but what if I don’t want to do my laundry? Then it would be nice to have my mom within 20 minutes of me. I guess I am just keeping my options open. So, we will see.” Whoever they are probably thinks you just old them a lot when in reality I just said 8 sentences of complete nothing.

The “Cop Out”: Here’s a scenario for you, you are out with your mom, your best friend, and her mom and here comes the infamous question, “Do you know where you want to go to college?” You and your mom kind of look at each other and she just knows—you don’t want to talk about it. In a less than obvious way, here’s what your mom should do “Wait, did you hear that Ebola has travelled to Minnesota?” Even if it’s not true the severity of the question redirects the topic from serious college discussion to if an Ebola vaccine exists. Now my mom, when put on the spot, all she can think to say is, “Guess what? Did you know Kate Middleton is pregnant?” Although it’s very random, it’s still effective. Make sure you have that trusted person to help you out in your desperate times of need.

The best option: the run away. If you really don’t want to answer the question, look at the person and tell them you have to pee and sprint to the bathroom. You’ve got to give it your best 3-year-old run/waddle too otherwise, they will think you’re a freak that apparently has to pee but is casually walking to the bathroom—that just doesn’t make sense. I guarantee they won’t ask any more questions after that awkward encounter.

Now if you are that rare case of a senior who actually enjoys sharing your entire college plans with everyone in plain site, here’s my advice to you: don’t. Most of the time people are using the question as a starter topic of conversation. If it’s not a simple dinner topic, they are using the conversation to decipher how intelligent you are based on the colleges you are about to list off. For example, I start ranting on the colleges “Notre Dame, Georgetown, Boston College” and their eyes get all big because they have just become intrigued. Now I say the colleges, “Augsburg, Normandale” oops you’ve already lost them before you can spit out the third. The colleges a senior starts listing off determines how much prestige and praise they are going to get. It’s best to just avoid the question at all costs.

So dear readers,

If you take away anything from me, remember this: college is not everything. Someday we are all going to have jobs and no one is going to care whether you went to Notre Dame or a Community College—all they will care about is how well you are able to do your job. The only glory you are going to get is from doing the job well. Harsh right? But it’s the truth. Remember what your end goal is. It’s not to get all of the glory of going to an elite school; I would hope it to be to receive a good education to someday have a career that makes you happy. The key is to remember what is going to make you happy and a short-term satisfaction of an elite school isn’t going to satisfy your long-term happiness.