So… what are you doing after college?

Shae Slaughter

I have noticed, like I’m sure many college students have, that I’ve begun to dread gatherings with my extended family, meeting new people or even interviewing for jobs. Why? Well it’s not because I have a weird Uncle Herbert, a fear of people or even a bad resume, but rather because of the slew of questions I have begun to get.

So… what’s your major? What are you doing after college? Do you have a boyfriend? How about a job? While some of these questions pertain more to my family than my potential bosses or colleagues, they still pop up by the dozens. Sometimes I feel like I might as well give them my social security number and computer password. Of course, I appreciate their care and concern, but not all of these questions are always easy to answer as much as I wish they would be.

I have no problem talking to people about my life, but for some reason it seems like the older I get the more I’m supposed to be saying. No longer is going to school good enough, I should be going to school with a job. No longer is planning on graduating good enough, I should be planning on graduating with honors and a high paying career at some big office firm. While I do juggle many of the things that people ask about like jobs and school, I am still without an answer to many questions. Of course these higher expectations are a good thing, something to work towards but nonetheless, I’m at where I’m at.

The fact of the matter is, I only have about a year and a half worth of school left and I couldn’t tell you what I plan on having for dinner tonight (probably something like dry cheerios because my milk is expired), let alone what I want to do for the rest of my life. Of course I wish I knew, but there is still so much I have yet to experience. I have some ideas that I’m tossing around, but nothing concrete. To be honest, I would rather keep these inklings of ideas about my future career to myself too, because otherwise I will get other people’s opinions on what I should be doing.

“Oh you’re an English major? What can you even do with that? Teach?” I hear those phrases again and again, somehow discrediting my educational choices throughout the last three years based on an untrue perception of what I do rather than the reality of what I actually do. Some of which is curiosity, but some is disapproval. The tone of “you should have been an engineer” rings clearly through pretty often. I also get opinions on traveling, adult tasks, study habits and many more things. A lot of these are helpful tips that are much appreciated, but some are also just not applicable to who I am. I do not want to hear that I could have picked a more lucrative major or gone to a more established school, I chose what was best for me.

For that reason, I like to keep my studies to myself. I like to enjoy being an English major, focusing on beautiful words and poetic writing. I prefer to know that I am constantly learning how to write better and how to read with more understanding. I focus on the fact that every career field needs employees who are capable writers and readers. I allow myself to grow my skills without placing myself into a box that will produce a teacher or doctor or lawyer, not that there is anything wrong with those fields.

So no, I do not know for sure what I will be doing after college. Maybe I will teach, maybe I will be a lawyer, but maybe I’ll find some wonderful niche in a company that suits my English major well. Maybe I do have a boyfriend, maybe I don’t, and either option is okay. I might have five jobs or I might have none. The point is that college is a time for discovering many things about yourself and your future, most of which many of us don’t yet have the answer to. I still call my mom every time I need to bake chicken to double check on the temperature and time, how in the world do you think I know what career I’ll be in for the next 40 years? So if I seem unable or even reluctant to answer your questions, does someone mind just telling me how long you cook the darn chicken for?