Stop Asking Seniors Where They’re Going to College

PhotoCredit/University of Notre Dame

Grace Galante, Content & Social Media Editor

“Where are you going to college?”

When you’re a senior in high school, this dreaded question is asked almost every day. While picking a college is both satisfying and exciting, the process of doing so is anything but.

Coming back from the holidays, the pressure to pick a college is at its peak. As many people spend the holidays visiting family and catching up, that also means seniors are bound to be bombarded with college questions. Although some may have the answers to these questions, there are many who don’t. For those who are still in the midst of the college search, these questions can cause unnecessary anxiety and pressure despite their good intentions.

When one doesn’t know what college they’re attending, the next logical question is “where did you apply?”

At first glance, this question seems like an innocent one to ask – but, in fact, it’s even worse than asking where someone has committed.

First off, this question is challenging for many seniors to answer because they do not want to publicize where they are going if there is an uncertainty that they will get in. Although college rejections happen even to students with a 36 ACT and a perfect GPA, it is still something many seniors do not feel comfortable sharing. Especially if someone is very open about having a first-choice school (hello Early Decision applicants), the thought of sharing that rejection with others is even harder to bear.

Additionally, even if a student gets into their first-choice school, they are not guaranteed to be attending that college. With college tuition skyrocketing at the rate it is, many people need financial assistance and scholarships to pursue their education. While not being able to attend a college due to finances is a very common and realistic problem, students should not have to share that they cannot attend their first-choice, or any college for that matter, due to their finances.

Another dilemma with constant college questions is that, honestly, many students are lost in this process. I applaud the people who have known since they were six years old that they wanted to study chemical engineering at the University of Illinois, but those types are few and far-between. In reality, there are many people who have no idea what they want to study, and have changed their college list more times than they can count – but that’s perfectly normal!

For some reason, many seniors are fooled into believing they need to have the rest of their lives figured out at eighteen years old. Newsflash: you don’t. So if you go into college determined to get a nursing degree and switch to an English major by the end of first semester, so what? It happens more often than you may think. According to Inside Higher Ed, about 80% of college students change their major sometime throughout college anyway.

Although much of the pressure to choose a college comes from adults (most of which went through a very different college admissions process), students inadvertently put the pressure on each other as well. When those who receive their decisions in late March and April see other students with admissions decisions, or even commitments, in the fall and winter – it can be easy to feel panicked and discouraged.

In my own experience, my twin sister was committed to college before I was even finished applying. Don’t get me wrong, college acceptances and commitments should be celebrated and students should receive recognition for their achievements. But, on the other hand,  we can’t forget about the students who are still in the middle of the college selection process and are needing of support and encouragement.

Seniors, if you have committed to college, I congratulate you for making through this process without losing your sanity. If you haven’t committed to college: you will be okay, you will figure things out (even if its April 30 at 11:59 PM), and you are in good company.

To anyone who asks a senior about college: maybe try a “how are you doing?” instead.