The Question You Should Stop Asking College Students

It’s been a long time coming, but I think it’s finally time to talk about something very important.

This post is on behalf of college seniors all over the U.S. It’s been a long and hard four years of school. Yes, we’ve had the greatest time of our lives. We realize how privileged we are to have a great education and experiences that have changed our lives for the better. These four years have shaped us as people, and first and foremost, we are thankful.

the question you should stop asking college students by au courant life

“What are you doing after college?”

We are all aware that after a college education we are expected to apply for jobs and enter into the world as young professionals. Maybe some of us will apply for graduate schools. Others might not know exactly what they want to do next. The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a wrong answer when it comes to your life. We all are on our own paths. While some of us may go right to work, others might take time off to travel, begin part-time jobs, or take a gap period to figure out what’s next.

The point is that in our society we are all expected to be on the same path. Start school. Get good grades. Participate in extra circulars. Take standardized tests. Apply for college. Go to college. Complete internships. Apply to jobs (or apply to graduate school). Enter the real world.

Where in this list of expectations are there choices? Again, these are all privileges for young people in America, and education is a commodity that many people in the world don’t have access to. However, we need to take a moment to realize that the mental health of the younger generations of our country is suffering. The pressure is at an all time high to be the smartest, the most athletic, the most driven, and not to mention the most attractive, all at the same time. One quality or talent simply isn’t enough these days, whether it is for a college acceptance or a job opportunity. The older generations are relying on us to fix the government, the economy, and everything that is going wrong in America (and in the world). But how can we change the world while our mental health is at stake?

To the adults out there; to the parents, to the grandparents, to the big sisters and brothers- I urge you to be supportive of your loved ones. Encourage them when they ask for advice, but please do not question them unless they express their own concern. We all love you, and we want to make you proud, but we are stressed out constantly not just by school but the world around us.

In time we will all end up exactly where we belong, but the pressure we put on ourselves is greater than most could understand.
1 in 5 of adults suffer from mental illness.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in people aged 10-34
75% of students who suffer from depression do not seek help.

At the end of the day, health is just more important.

So please, if you are talking to a college student or graduate, only ask them what they’re doing post-grad if they offer that information on their own. Trust me, you’re not the first one to ask and you most definitely will not be the last.

an anxious, unsure, but very proud *almost* college graduate