Future Talk drives teens to avoid conversation

Advice for both sides when it comes to those intimidating talks about seniors’ future plans

Annabelle+Ady%2C+Opinion+Editor.
Annabelle Ady, Opinion Editor.

Annabelle Ady, Opinion Editor.

Annabelle Ady, Opinion Editor.

Annabelle Ady, Opinion Editor

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After College Application Week Nov. 6-10, and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, college and graduation will probably come up as topics of conversation at imminent family gatherings. There are a few choice words and conversations that high schoolers are more than likely sick of hearing about from their family members, teachers, and basically any adult who “believes” in them.
This is The Talk — more specifically the College and Future Talk, where high school seniors are subjected to endless lectures about the future, money, graduation, and education, needed to survive in the ruthless Real World. I have noticed, especially now as a senior about to graduate, that adults have forgotten how to talk to me, they think that asking me about the future is a great conversation topic. And then they give me their unsolicited advice.
Sure, I appreciate the gesture, they just want what’s best for me. In their eyes what’s best is usually college and a high-wage job. They don’t always take into account that maybe, just maybe, I can’t afford college or that I am exhausted and need a break from school. When I tell adults that perhaps I don’t want to go to college immediately after graduation their reactions usually involve horrified expressions as if I just dropped a huge bomb. They promptly remind me, as so many before them, that I may as well live in a cardboard box because I’ll never make it in the “real world” without a college education.
This is just an exaggeration, but I am sure I am not the only high-school senior subjected to The Talk. I am actually pretty sick of the college talk, I am sick of being told what’s best for me by people who won’t have their wallets emptied by the expenses of college. In fact, it is not their place to be telling me what’s best for me. Eventually I just started telling everyone what they want to hear: “Yes I will go to college.”
The problem with this type of encouragement is that it is not really encouraging, rather it is stressful to talk about the future with everyone weighing in on how you should live. For those conversations, whether for the senior who wants to dodge them, or for the parent of a senior who is tempted to start them, here are some dos and don’ts according to galined.com, to talk about over that wonderful Thanksgiving dinner:
Tips for the parents of a senior:
1. Don’t ask students about their applications and acceptance, instead ask about hobbies.
2. Don’t ask about upcoming deadlines, grades, basically anything about school. Instead ask about some of the school events such as homecoming or football games or even upcoming school breaks.
3. Don’t talk about other seniors’ plans, instead talk about the weather.
Following these tips will result in appreciation from the high-school senior being questioned. Parents do want the best for their children but there is a fine line between being overbearing and being careless. The best thing an adult can do for any student is to give them the space they desire and allow them to make their own decisions, but still be a guide and a support system.
For my fellow seniors, I have one piece of advice: Be honest. It’s OK to politely change the topic or even say, “You know (insert relative’s name), I am under enough pressure as it is and I’d much rather talk about (insert topic of interest).” The worst thing that can happen is that the conversation becomes more uncomfortable. But that can create an out for the senior to leave the conversation or even change the topic.
It is up to each high-school senior to decide what is appropriate to say and whether it is really that important to change the subject. Adults usually just want what’s best, and sometimes they can become overbearing.
There is not much a student can do about these conversations, even if they try to avoid The Talk it is part of the high-school life and it can’t completely be avoided. As long as honesty is used with them and they know that it’s uncomfortable talking about the future then hopefully they understand.
The last piece of advice that I can impart high-school students with is to be diplomatic, no matter what situation always treat others with respect, choose words carefully and try not to be inflammatory, the conversations will go smoother if honesty and diplomacy are used to change the topic. If changing the topic does not work then just answering questions short and sweet will do the trick, the adult gets the information that they desire and the high-schooler does not have to go into great lengths to explain their future plans or avoid The Talk. Remember that the student is in control of their life, in the end all that matters is if they are happy with their decisions. Go forth and conquer, the future is bright.

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