University of Virginia

Talking turkey

Where are you applying?

Why do relatives do it?  Why do they ask you so many questions about college?  And what should you do about it?

Thanksgiving has always been a great time with family, but you know this year will be different because everyone from Aunt Minnie to Uncle Earl will be asking you where you are applying.  You really don’t want to talk about it!  Aargh!

First, take a deep breath, and think about why the older relatives bring this up.  The primary reason is that this is the first topic in years that they feel they can talk to you about!  You don’t get together that often, and they don’t really know that much about what is going on in your teenage life (that’s a good thing).  That makes having a conversation difficult for them.

But now, this year, they can have a conversation with you on a topic they know something about.  College.  So when they ask where you are thinking about going, don’t be offended, it’s just their way of trying to connect.

Some people say you should nicely tell them you don’t want to talk about it.  I disagree.  You are moving into adulthood, you need to learn how to have difficult conversations.  However, that doesn’t mean you need to offer up your list of schools and hear Uncle Earl pontificate on what strange choices you have.

This is actually a great opportunity for you.  Here’s one way to approach it and have fun:

First, practice with your parents this week, before you get together.  Get on the same page so your parents aren’t working against you.  You don’t need your mom to call out, “Jessica, come tell Aunt Minnie where you are applying,” if that’s not what you want to do.   Talk about how much you are willing to divulge and how you can remain respectful and steer the conversation.

You can actually learn from your relatives.  Ask them where they went to college and what they liked most about it back in their day.  Ask them what other schools were in the running and how they made their final choice.  Ask them if looking back on it all, if they are happy with the choice they made.

You’ll end up honoring their desire to connect and learning something in the meantime.  And enjoy your turkey!