Now that back-to-school season is here, college students everywhere are likely being asked the same annoying questions. Postgraduates love to recycle the same-old conversation starters, and they’ve overstayed their welcome! But don’t worry—we’re not about to leave you hanging. Below, allow us to offer some clarity on which questions, exactly, college students have answered a zillion times (often via four words: “I don’t know yet!”), and which will result in more fruitful conversation instead:
Frequently asked question: “What’s your major?”
What you should ask instead: “What’s your passion?”
Many college students—especially freshmen and sophomores—are still experimenting with what exactly they want to study long-term. Asking about their major is a stark reminder that they haven’t figured it out quite yet. On the other hand, asking, “What’s your passion?” allows students to talk about their interests and goals without feeling like they’re writing “computer programming” or “graphic design” down in stone. Start there, and you’ll fast-track yourself into a fun, lively conversation.
Frequently asked question: “How do you like college so far?”
What you should ask instead: “What is your favorite thing about college so far?”
Going the “favorite-thing” route may seem totally unspecific and informal, but that’s the point! It allows students to think instantly about what really lights them up. Whether it’s their favorite course, club, or Friday night diner—this question will kick off epic college memories back and forth (so have your own ready!).
Frequently asked question: “What are your plans after graduation?”
What you should ask instead: “What do you know now that you wish you knew in high school?”
Beloved by family, friends, professors, and coworkers but hated most by students is the “What are your plans for after graduation?” question. Other variations of the question often include, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “Where do you plan on moving after college?” *facepalm*
Talking about the future can be downright stressful, so flip it, and give college students a way to feel like they know a thing or two during a time of deep uncertainty. Odds are, it’ll create meaningful dialogue on important milestones—and might even remind this person that she’s been nervous before, and everything turned out okay.
This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.