Etiquette Advice for Students Facing Questions about College

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Editor’s note: A version of this post was first published on Admitted in March 2016.

What are your plans for next year?

It’s a query that college-bound seniors across the country will be asked a multitude of times in the weeks and months ahead.

But what happens when the questions become overwhelming? Last year the hosts of Awesome Etiquette — a podcast produced by American Public Media — discussed polite ways to deflect overly intrusive college admission questions.

The topic was raised by high school senior Amy Mercedes, who asked show hosts Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning how she should respond to questions from adults and peers about her college list, grade point average, college essay, and SAT scores.

“I’m sure people don’t mean to be nosy, but how should I balance answering such personal questions while maintaining my privacy,” Mercedes asked. “Is there a polite way to divert these well-intentioned inquires?”

Post and Senning — great-great grandchildren of manners maven Emily Post — suggest students formulate a polite “brush-off answer.”

“Make sure your brush-off answer is gentle enough that people don’t feel like you’re insulting them,” the duo noted. “You could say something like, ‘You know, it’s so off my mind right now and I’m so grateful for a break from thinking about it tonight.’”

Another tactic: Flip the conversation.

“Ask someone how they approached their college application and decision about where to go to school,” Post and Senning suggest.

Read the full advice column and check out NACAC’s tips for selecting a college.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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