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Lilian Klatskin Headshot

An Open Letter to Anyone Who Thinks It's Okay to Ask Me Where I Want to Go to College

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Dear Clueless Adults,

Hello there. I assume you don't have children who have gone through the college application process in the last 10 years or else you wouldn't be so rude. Unless you work in college admissions or a high school college guidance office, unless you are a high school teacher or are my parents, please, for the love of God, stop asking me about college. But alas, you're oblivious and you'll ask me about it anyway.

This is how a conversation with you will unfold when I am introduced to you by my parents or grandparents, I run into you in the elevator, or I see you on the sidewalk: You will ask me if I remember you, even though the last time you saw me, I was two months old. You will ask me what grade I'm in and I will tell you I'm a junior. And it's downhill from there.

There is a 99.9 percent chance your next line will be something along the lines of "So you're probably thinking about college?" Well, aren't you insightful! I am a 16-year-old who goes to a private school in New York City; if I hadn't been thinking about college since the last time you saw me, I would be seriously in denial. If I were only starting now to think about how to build my application with a plethora of AP classes, SATs, SAT IIs, extracurricular activities, leadership positions, and community service opportunities... Sorry, I can't finish that sentence because my blood is already curdling with stress. That's how much I think about college, buddy. But of course, like the darling young daughter I am, I smile politely and nod my head yes.

The conversation will turn into the graph of f(x) = 1/x when x is between -1 and 0. For those of you not currently taking AP Calculus, that translates to a situation that is going exponentially downwards. Because, of course, you ask the WORLD'S WORST QUESTION: "Where do you want to go to school?"

If I could choose where I wanted to go to school, as in, I tell you my first choice and a magical fairy comes down and bippity-boppity-boo! Look at that! I'm in! Trust me, you would get to know all about it. But regrettably, that is not the case. Please stop talking to me about college. Do you have nothing else to talk about?

I am only a junior, so soon my go-to response of "It's still early so I'm thinking about lots of different places at the moment" will reach its expiration date. I can only imagine how much more frustrating this conversation is for high school seniors, for whom "I don't know yet" is no longer a feasible reply. Soon, I'll have to fend you off with sudden changes in conversation topic such as "Please DO tell me about your maltipoo's latest antics! " or "How was your recent juice cleanse?" neither of which I actually care anything about, but both of which are infinitely more appealing than fending off questions about college. So please, take the bait, and keep talking about your own life while I secretly tweet that I am "so #bored."

Hopefully, you've finished your interrogation... but you haven't: "But if you could REALLY choose, where would you go?" Stop pushing! Why should I set myself up for a public disappointment that is hard enough to go through privately? I don't need your clearly unfiltered tongue spreading my life decisions all about town, please and thank you. And why do you think you're so special that I would tell you, a person I barely know, where I want to go to school? Don't you get that this is a personal and sensitive topic, and that's why I don't want to talk about it? You underestimate the privacy that is required to make this uncomfortable process bearable, and I resent you for it.

I'm begging you: next time I begrudgingly sit next to you at a family dinner or spot you in line at Starbucks, please compliment my trendy boots, ask me for my opinion on the conflict in the Middle East, quiz me on string theory -- I don't really care. Just DO NOT, in any case, in any way, in any form, in any language, in any universe, ask me where I want to apply to college.

From now on, I will not answer you. I will feign deafness or rudely run past you before I answer another one of your nosy questions. Applying to college is a process, I will tell you the outcome when I know, but I will not be a sportscaster for you along the way. Please take up a hobby to fill your time and the space where your heart should be. What about putting that maltipoo of yours in a dog show?

XOXO,
Lilian