You thought you were free from annoying relative questions as a senior this holiday season: adults are bored of hearing about your sports, classes and teachers, they know your friends and significant other, you’ve taken the ACT and SAT, prom is months away and homecoming was months ago. But college application season is like the full moon to were-questioners. Every adult you know will be quizzing you on all things college, and you need to be prepared. These answers may not be enough to satisfy the hungry interrogators, but they will be enough for you to bide your time until a little cousin has to be questioned about her new loose tooth or starting kindergarten.
When adults ask this question, they have a hidden motive behind their curiosity or polite interest. They want to hear that you applied to their school, their rival school, their sister’s school, their cousin’s best friend’s brother’s school that they visited one time and oh man, was that a crazy night, let me tell you. Adults love nothing more than using college advice to disguise their trip down memory lane. Listen politely as they tell you all about their glory days, even if they graduated before you were born.
A lot of adults will use this question to make a plug for their alma mater, no matter what your criteria are. “Oh, you want to go pre-med? I once saw a doctor at my liberal arts college. Not on campus, no, but in town when I got mono.” “You’re trying to stay close to home? My university is just a short eight-hour drive from here, if you speed.” You should memorize some key pros and cons for each school you applied to: distance, size, how good their program is for your major, and a fun fact.
This question will follow immediately after the “Why did you choose those schools?” Adults actually want to hear what career you plan to pursue, so start with that if you can. Any pre-something majors have it easy; their answer answers both questions. If you plan on studying any other major, be prepared for the inevitable follow-up, “What do you plan on doing with that?” Some unfortunate few will also get the follow-ups, “Isn’t that a dying field?” “Why not X-major instead? You liked that one vaguely related high school class you took.” And “Oh… What’s that?”
Everyone wants to know the answer to this, the arguably most important question, but even if they find out, they won’t be done asking more. You should know your top choice or top three choices, but that will only open you up to extreme interrogation, which will include the preceding three questions again. You should prepare your defense of your top choices like defense lawyer who knows his defendant is guilty. Just don’t mention that analogy: your relatives will take pre-law and run with it.