Please Don’t Make this conversation about College Apps!
To make friendly conversation, it’s tempting to ask seniors in high school how the college application process is going, or where they are applying. They MAY be tempted to strangle you, but they’ll probably act decently about it and politely recite their list. Maybe even tell you it’s going OK.
What they really want to do is go to the closest room and scream so loudly that the Common App site crashes (or so they tell me, but it’s kinda obvious if you just look closely at their faces).
Think about it this way: if you were applying for a high stakes job that took many hundreds of hours and every time you saw anyone THAT WAS ALL THEY WANTED TO TALK ABOUT WITH YOU IN ALL CAPS.
PSA, Care Elsewhere!
This post is a PSA from someone in the industry, moi (I SEE YOU, TEENS!): if you are hanging out with high school seniors these days and strike up conversation TRY REALLY HARD NOT TO ASK THEM ABOUT COLLEGE/COLLEGE PROCESS. Like, AT ALL.
I know you really care, but unless you’re their guidance counselor, care about something else. Really, you will get so many cool points for not making the conversation about C-O-L-L-E-G-E. They need the mental break. They need to know they are interesting and valuable and very awesome BEYOND this demanding process.
At this point in the fall, COLLEGE CRAP (that’s how they are thinking of it) is all anyone asks about (Not you? Cool, you should run a tutorial for other adults!). It gets Teen-TEDIOUS.
Branch out the conversation
Rule of thumb: No college crap.
While you are at it, avoid school generally.
Ask them, like, what they had for lunch, or to tell you about something weird they noticed on the street.
Here are 10 suggestions to start up a real conversation with a teen in the middle of college applications.
- What’s the last thing that really got you mad?
- What’s the last thing that made you feel completely relaxed?
- What makes you want to get up and do something? i.e. What are you passionate about?
- If there were no hidden costs and no judgments, what do you most want to learn about OUTSIDE SCHOOL?
- Who is your crush these days, c’mon, you can tell me, no really, you can…(You have to know if this question is in your purview, m’kay?)- a better approach: if you’ve got a crush, when is the last time you saw the person? How did it go?
- Describe an awkward situation you wish you could do over– how would things play out?
- Tell me about the last movie you saw and why you loved it.
- If your life could be like any movie, which would you pick and why?
- Wanna go do something non-academic?
- Do you have any writing you would read to me? I’d love to just listen.
Did the Conversation Turn to college app stress anyway?
We want to help teens with that, and panicking teens are our specialty. Y’all can do it– you can turn that stress into super-prose.
In Essay Intensive individual sessions, we’ll talk around the essays to get at the best topics and structure, so get ready for good conversation. Sliding scale rates so don’t be shy.
More Conversation Starters from Friends
Look, this lady on HuffPo, mom of 4 and a Happiness Coach (!!) has more ideas for you!