Letters from the Dorm: Why I want you to stop asking me about my plans after graduation, and what to ask instead

By Tacye Hong, University of Toronto
By Tacye Hong, University of Toronto |

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Now that I’ve finished my undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, everyone wants to know what I am going to do next. Having answered the question “What’s your plan after graduation?” more than 50 times (closer to 100 times, to be honest) these past few months, I am utterly bored by this topic.

While I understand that these people, mainly relatives and other adults, mean well and are just curious about what the future holds for us graduates, it does get repetitive after a while.

Even though I am beyond satisfied with my postgraduate plans and am happy to share them with people, this conversation can still be tiring. Moreover, more often than not, the conversation ends as abruptly as it began, with a “congratulations” after I have answered the question, followed by a “thank you” that does not sound sincere even to my own ears.

The whole ordeal is done out of formality rather than genuine care for us graduates. Here is a suggestion: if you have already asked the dreaded question, show actual interest! Ask those who are going to start working about their jobs and ask those who are doing post-graduate degrees about their programmes. I doubt all of you know, for example, what an actuary actually does, nor do I think you know what kind of research an economics student might conduct.

What’s more, while I am one of the lucky ones who have a concrete plan, there are many graduates who do not have anything lined up and may not wish to discuss this with people they barely know.

Whether they are just taking their time to figure out what their passions are, or simply haven’t had much luck with graduate school applications or job hunting, this conversation will no doubt bring unnecessary stress to them.

Instead of asking us about our post-university plans, ask us to share our experiences during the past four years. There are plenty of highlights from my undergraduate life, and many anecdotes about professors and friends that I would gladly share.

Isn’t it much nicer to learn about how much we have discovered about our interests and ourselves in university? I could happily go on for days about my experience representing my school for an economics case competition and as a mentor.

To sum up, if you are asking us graduates about our plans after university because you feel obliged to, don’t. After all, if graduates want you to know what they are doing after university, they will definitely let you know in their own way and their own time.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge