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We’ve all been there… dealing with the college questions that arise once you start applying to college. Here are some responses when that grandparent/second cousin/stranger at the grocery store/childhood nemesis won’t stop grilling you about your college search.

College Questions:

1. How many schools are you applying to?

This is a classic kick-off college question. It starts with an innocent “how many” and quickly moves into “which ones,” followed by the customary “why not this one?” and “really? that one? are you sure?” So, unless you’re looking to start rattling off the names of every school you’ve ever even considered considering, hit ‘em with a safe ballpark range:

“I’m looking at 10 or maybe 15 different schools. I’m still just starting my search, so I’m sure that list will change over the next couple months.”

Safe, simple, and smart. Nailed it.


2. What’s your major gonna be?

If you’ve known since you were six years old that you want to go into Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, then by all means, share away! But if you have no idea, don’t panic at this college question. Lots of high schoolers apply to college without knowing exactly what they’ll major in, and tons of college students switch majors during their four years. This could be a good time for a little educating:

“I’m thinking something involving [liberal arts/natural sciences/engineering/wizardry], but chances are, that’ll change by the time I have to officially declare.”



3. What’d you get on the ACT/SAT?

Wow. Really? Okay. Unless you’re super proud of your score and have no problem sharing semi-private information about yourself, we suggest steering clear of this one with something like:

“I’m super happy with how I did, but I’d rather not share, if that’s cool. I’m more than my score! Ask me about my [singing group/sports team/extensive teddy bear collection] instead.”


4. What’s your dream school?

This is the part where they assume you have (1) already settled on a single soulmate school, (2) committed your entire life to getting in, and (3) will be eternally miserable if said Magical Dream College rejects you. Sounds like a solid time to explain:

“I don’t really have a single dream school. There are a few that I’d really love to get into, and I’m working really hard to make that happen, but setting all my hopes and dreams on just one school seems a bit irresponsible, don’t you think?”

Got ’em.


5. Really? You’ve gotta have a dream school.

Oh, do you? Because it really sounded like we just said… You know what? Nevermind. At this point, you could just pick one of the several schools that you’re considering and drop a name to make them happy:

“Again, I’m considering a lot of different schools. Like, I just visited [pick a school], which seems pretty awesome, but—”


6. You think you can get into that school? With those scores? Are you nuts?

Ah, a classic trap. They’ve cornered you. But you know better, and you’re ready to fire back with a whole explanation about the different types of schools you’re applying to:

“That’s not the only school I’m applying to. I’ve got my reach schools, my targets, my safer schools, and my safest. I’m well aware of my chances for each one, and that’s not gonna stop me from trying.”


7. Didn’t your older brother go to Harvard? Why don’t you wanna go to Harvard?

Wow. At least this one’s easy:

“I’m not my older brother. I am [insert name/kickass superhero/Greek god]. I am awesome, and I make my own decisions. Next college question.”

Yeah! You tell ‘em, Iron Man. Bring it.


8. You know that there’s nothing to stress about, right?

Wait…was that…was that genuinely helpful, reasonable, and calming advice, or…?

“Wow! Um, thanks! Yeah, that’s what I’ve been saying all along. Just takes a little bit of hard work every day, and it will all work out.”


9. Okay, okay… but FOR REAL. What’d you get on the ACT/SAT? I swear I won’t tell!



10. Fine. Just one more question, I swear. Have you downloaded the myOptions app yet?

“You mean the free one with the school search, checklists, and killer advice? YOU BET.”