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Awesome Etiquette: Deflecting Questions About Your College Application

Kirby Hamilton
Even good-natured questions about college applications can feel intrusive when you're trying to make the big decision about where to go. What's the best way to deflect these questions?

College applications are usually stressful. There are essays to write, letters of recommendation to get and test scores to submit. On top of getting the application finished, when people find out you're applying to college, their questions about the process can feel like an unwelcome intrusion.  

Hi Dan and Lizzie,

Currently I'm a high school senior, neck deep in the college application process. Whenever an adult or peer finds out I'm in my last year of high school it is inevitable that they will bring up the question of "where are you applying," after which they expect a list of every school where I've submitted an application along with a detailed explanation of why I chose each school and which ones I'd like to attend most and least. Others want to know my G.P.A, my S.A.T score or the topics of my personal essays. I'm sure people don't mean to be nosy, but how should I balance answering such personal questions while maintaining my privacy. Is there a polite way to divert these well-intentioned inquiries?

Thank you so much,

Amy Mercedes

The Answer:

Your best defense is to go into each event knowing how much you want to talk about the college application process. Some of the people you might engage with more deeply, and others you'll just give a brush-off answer. Make sure your brush-off answer is gentle enough that people don't feel like you're insulting them. You could say something like, "You know, it's so off of my mind right now and I'm so grateful for a break from thinking about it tonight."

Keeping your responses short and sweet when you don't feel like talking about it is a great tactic. When people hear something like that they're usually a little dumbfounded, and they'll probably just wish you luck and leave it at that. That's probably going to be most comforting to you, because they're not going to pry deeper.

Another thing you could try, if you don't mind the discussion, is to flip the conversation. Ask someone how they approached their college application and decision about where to go to school.

Best of luck as you make your decision and we hope that you fully enjoy and are excited about wherever you end up next year. 

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