1. “What are your plans after college?”
We’re all probably guilty of asking this at some point (like that awkward family dinner you had to go to, where you saw Distant Cousin A and tried to make small talk seem less awkward), but seriously, it has to stop.
NO ONE knows what they’re doing after college — they may have some idea, they may not. And that’s totally fine, because depending on the intensity of your undergrad program or whatever else you had going on in your late teens and early 20s — you may not have had a lot of extra mind space to figure out a “master plan” post-graduation.
2. Comments that regard certain degrees/areas of study as “useful” vs. “not useful.”
There are not enough words to describe how much statements that fall under this category piss me off. What good comes from telling someone that their BA in English isn’t going to go far in life? Congratulations, you just won the asshole award!
Additionally, how are you measuring usefulness? What does that even mean? People who make statements like these (usually to those of us studying in the humanities, the arts, or other areas of study that aren’t STEM-related, business, or any other field that may be categorized as “more practical”) are neglecting the fact that a degree in any of those areas provides various skills and abilities that are important in a job world like today. English, for instance, gives you a leg-up in the job world on researching skills, organizational thinking, typing, and, above all, writing. Plus, what do people expect will come out of preaching to statements like this — that we’ll just dismiss all subjects that aren’t STEM or business-related degrees?
3. Anything relating to money as it relates to your education.
My first winter coming home from college, a family friend made a backhanded judgment about a new tattoo I was sportin’, particularly about how I shouldn’t be spending money on tattoos when my parents were the ones coughing up the dough for me to attend a pricey college. And I mean, whatever, he was entitled to his opinion — but seriously? He wouldn’t know that I paid for that tattoo with hard-earned cash, after I’d paid for my books and other things over the course of the semester, as a little gift to myself for some hard work on my part. And at a Christmas gathering, that’s the kind of positive attitude you like to spread around?
When it comes down to it, a person’s finances are their own finances; it’s not fair to assume things about how people spend their money, especially in college.
4. Judgments on taking time off.
As the percentage of grads who manage to matriculate in at/under 4 years decreases, I think the stigma against this is lessening. That doesn’t mean that there are still assholes out there who think taking time off is a waste and assume that you’re sitting on your ass all day doing nothing productive.
Honestly, I wish we could overhaul the system and encourage EVERYONE in the 18-24 year old range to take at least a couple of months off of school before transitioning from High School to College — we like to think putting lost kids immediately into college will help them find their way, but honestly, a year outside of the college bubble does a lot to focus a person’s direction in life. So parents/relatives/family friends, remember that next time you’re judging your child.
5. Judgments on attending Community College or online education versus any other University.
I used to be in the offending side of this in high school, until I got out of it, into the higher education system, and realized what a great resource community colleges are to their surrounding areas — same with online learning!
The argument for name-brand universities is made frequently enough that I don’t have to make it. However, I firmly believe that what makes these institutions effective is the quality of the teachers—and, as you start to learn when you’re in college, there are good and bad teachers everywhere. Online learning has also grown significantly, leading to a vast array of teaching styles out there for people to explore.
No one should pressure you into attending a school that’s way more costly than you’re comfortable with just for the sake of reputation—these options are a great choice for the person who’s not so sure where they want to go yet, and you shouldn’t feel any shame in exploring them as possibilities.