How To Answer Questions About Post-Graduation Plans, Even If You’re Not Sure

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What are the six words every person on the verge of finishing college dreads most? "What are your plans for graduation?" Yep, the dreaded question that starts off benignly, but as the graduation date draws nearer, picks up in frequency and intensity to the point where you start to feel like you're living in some kind of educational achievement-based episode of Black Mirror. It’s freaky how often that question gets asked. So, instead of going into a full-blown panic, let's come up with a game plan on how to answer questions about your post-graduation plans, in a way that shuts down the conversation politely and quickly. Because, seriously, how many times are you going to have to have that same exact conversation?

Sure, it's annoying, but for the most part people fall into two camps: genuine interest and just making small talk. Yes, there may be a handful of people who are trying to be shady or judgmental about your choices, but usually you can answer the question in a direct and succinct way that will shorten (if not completely eliminate) the conversation. And for those who are being shady, well, I have a suggestion for them too. Here's how to field those pesky post-grad plan questions like a pro.

1What Are Your Plans For After Graduation?

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Chances are you don’t totally have a fully fleshed-out plan yet. Because, ya know, you’re busy trying to do a little thing called "actually graduating." So, maybe give yourself some room to focus on that. Your best answer for that question is something along the lines of, “Right now I’m really just focusing on graduating. Once I’m done with that I am going start thinking about the next steps.”

2Do You Have A Job Yet?

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If you have a job, especially one that specifically applies to your degree, this is a no-brainer. But, like many people who have not even graduated yet, you may not have anything lined up, and that's totally normal and fine. Right now, your job is called graduating, or working a job to pay for graduating, thank you very much. But since we can’t always be as snarky as we like, you can just tell them, “My plan is to focus on that after graduation, for now I’m just putting my energy into finishing up at college.”

3Are You Going to Grad School?

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Well, are you? If the answer is yes, a simple “Yep, that is the plan” should be enough to satisfy the question. But if you’re not, around the 10th time you get asked this it's probably going to make you just want to scream “No, I’m already broke enough getting this degree!” While you’d be my personal hero if you said that, it’s probably not your best response. Your best bet might be something along the lines of, “Not at the moment, my next steps are going to be focused on starting my career.”

4Are You Ready For The Real World?

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Ugh, this question. So condescending! Also, no, of course not. Who is? Your best course of action is to let that slide and just lean into the excitement the future. “I don't know if ‘ready for the real world,’ but I am excited with the challenges that come with finding out.” And then quietly under your breath to yourself: “Jerk.”

5A Million Other Questions That Are None Of Their Business

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Are you receiving your third degree and just feeling over it? Are you just tired of getting this question from literally every single person you know? One very effective way to make it all end is by keeping it real. 100 percent real. I'm talking uncomfortably real. If they are so curious, let them know what’s up. You have hell of debt, you have no plan, you’re spinning out into an existential crisis, everything in your life is changing, you have to move back home because you're broke, you have no idea what the next step is — you get the idea. Chances are, by the third or fourth deeply personal and panicky confession, the nosy party has begun trying to extract themselves from the conversation. When in doubt, go nuclear.

Because here’s the thing, you don't have to know right now. Sometimes it takes a little time to find your path, especially right after graduation when so much is changing. Give yourself a break and take the time you need to get centered. Figure out what it is you want and then don't let anyone stand in your way.

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