7 Probing Questions About Your Teen’s College Application Process & Thoughtful Ways To Answer

Ahh, the college application process… Exploration, hopes, aspirations, deadlines, and… a lot of really inappropriate questions from nosy people.

People start asking children questions like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” at ridiculously young ages. Some young kids might have dreams of being an astronaut or the president. But for the most part, they’re enjoying life, learning the basics, and finding their foundation. 

As children grow into teenagers, the questions become more pointed. It’s not just, “What do you want to do?” Now, the probing questions revolve around which schools your teen applied to, whether they met the deadline for early decision, why this school and not that school, and on and on. 

The college admissions process is hard enough for teenagers and their parents without nosy neighbors and acquaintances getting involved. Not only are you trying to keep an open mind, but you’re also facing the fact that your not-such-a-baby-anymore teen will be flying the coop sooner than later. This time is precious, and there’s no room for unnecessary distractions. So how do you tell someone to mind their own business and redirect their probing questions in a polite manner?

7 Ways To Politely Shut Down Probing Questions From Nosy People

The college application process can be a super vulnerable process for most students. So it’s important to respect your teen’s privacy. Before sharing information, privately ask your student what’s shareable and what’s off limits. 

And remember that a lot of folks bluff because they’re insecure. So don’t feel pressure to give up intel that isn’t technically yours to share. It’s best to hold your cards close until you and your teen are ready. But when the probing questions keep coming and “None of your business!” doesn’t seem polite, here are some alternatives.

1. Where Did Your Daughter Apply To College?

What if your daughter didn’t apply to college? Some people are so used to keeping up with the Joneses they forget that many people are forging their own path based on their own interests and goals. Whether or not that’s the case for your student, here’s a nice way to respond without sharing private information:

“I am so proud of her! She did a great job of putting herself out there! This process can be so vulnerable. So she’s keeping her college list within the family until she decides where she’s going.”

Feel free to substitute “her college list” with “post high school plans.”

2. We Applied To Baylor, Notre Dame, And UT. Where Did Y’all Apply?

Don’t be afraid of being a little snarky in a friendly joking way! Consider this response the next time an oversharer is looking to compare:

“You applied to college! How cool that you’re considering going back to school! I was just thinking about a graduate program… (Wink) Oh, you mean my son? I think he wants to keep that to himself for now.”

Deciding where to apply to college can quickly become overwhelming for any student. Contact Bright Futures today to learn how the Birkman and our college counselors can help your teen make the best decision for themselves. 

3. Did Your Son Hear Back From Their Dream School Yet?

In reality, the person asking this question is probably anxiously awaiting their own teen’s response. But that doesn’t mean you have to offer them any information regarding your teen. Try this answer out for size:

“My son has worked so hard to manage all of the communications from the schools. You’ll have to talk to him.”

4. My Son Got A 1380 On The SAT. What Did Yours Get?

Maya Angelou, Theodore Roosevelt, and many historical figures have stated the phrase, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

Now that your family is knee deep in college applications, the sentiment is probably ringing truer than ever. But you don’t have to feed into others’ needs to compare. Instead, enjoy this time and celebrate your teen’s wins without giving others any thought. Try out this thoughtful response:

“Congrats! That really is a score to be proud of! He took the test earlier this year and is planning to test again before his deadlines just to see if it’s stronger. We’ll see!”

Bright Futures helps students plan for their own bright futures, prepare college essays, make the most of their exam prep, and more. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your student navigate this process.  

5. Where Is Your Daughter Going To College?

This question can easily come off as too pointed, brazen, and presumptuous. What if your daughter is taking a gap year before making this big decision? Or what if she’s completely overwhelmed making this decision? You don’t need to lay it all on the line for anyone outside your immediate family. Instead, keep your response mindful of her privacy:

“She’s still narrowing it down and waiting for all the information to come in before making a final decision. I’m sure she’ll post something or share when she’s ready.”

6. Are Y’all Applying For Financial Aid And Scholarships?

Questions like this could likely come from someone trying to navigate financial aid and scholarships themselves. However, if they need help or resources, they should really just come out and ask. Otherwise, it seems a little nosy to be asking about your financial situation. Nicely shut it down and make it clear that your student is applying to college, not you:

“Me? No, I’m not. But I told my daughter that I’d be happy to help her research some options.”

7. I Heard The Kid Down The Block Is Transferring Schools. Do You Know What Happened?

And this is why you want to keep your cards close to your chest. Gossip can’t help themselves, and you don’t want them to share your family’s information this way. This is an opportunity to be the change you hope to see in your community while humanizing the situation of the student-in-question. 

“Wow, it’s so hard to make a change like that. It takes courage and self-awareness. I was a transfer student, too. It was such a big deal at the time. But looking back, everything was a big deal at that age, and it ended up being the right thing to do.”

If you weren’t really a transfer student, replace “I was a transfer student, too” with “I remember friends transferring when I was a student.”

Bring In The Experts To Help Navigate The College Application Process

No matter where your teen is in the college application process, it seems like there are always nosy questions on top of a never-ending to-do list. Rather than worrying about answering the next round of your neighbor’s questions, put the focus back on your teen. 

At Bright Futures, we work with students to uncover their true talents, interests, and goals. And with this knowledge that comes from their self-awareness, we are able to navigate them towards the schools that best fit their unique needs, goals, and budget. 

Are you ready to find out what Bright Futures can do for you? 

Schedule a free consultation today!

Note: This post was originally published on December 1, 2020 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness.