Good Answers to "What Are You Going to Do After You Graduate?"

Having a Few Go-To Answers Can Keep the Conversation Positive

Proud parents with college graduate
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No matter where you go to school, what you're majoring in, where you live, or what kind of college experience you've had, you're likely to face an all-too-common question as Graduation Day approaches: "So, what are you going to do after you graduate?"

While this question is often coming from a well-intentioned person, being asked it multiple times can become a bit disheartening -- especially if your post-graduation plans aren't solidified.

So what can you say that offers a polite response without divulging too much about your personal life?

I'm Still Deciding

This answer lets folks know that you're actively engaged in a decision-making process. You might have a variety of options on the table or are choosing between two different directions -- like graduate school or work, for example. Additionally, it lets folks know that you are exploring the choices available to you instead of just passively waiting to see what's going to happen.

I'm Giving Myself Until (Upcoming Date) to Decide

This can be a great deflector of people's nosiness because it lets folks know that you're currently in the process of deciding, you have a date in mind, and you don't necessarily need advice until that point in time.

I'm Talking to The Career Counselors at School About My Options

Lots of people like to give advice to current or recent college graduates, which can be great.

However, not all of the advice you receive can be helpful or constructive. Letting people know that you're talking with administrators who are professionally trained to offer career advice can be a gentle way to let them know that you're already receiving advice from others -- and, consequently, don't necessarily need any more at this moment.

I'm Focusing on Making the Most of My College Experience Right Now

Remember, it's perfectly okay not to know what you're going to do after college. That decision can, in fact, wait until you really do graduate. College is a stressful, intense journey, and letting people know that you're focusing on being successful in that process before turning to the next phase in your life is perfectly acceptable.

I'm Talking with a Few People About Some Opportunities

You don't have to be specific, and you don't have to name names. But letting someone know that you already have some conversations going on with other people can gently deflect a series of questioning you might not feel like answering.

I'm Giving Myself Some Time to Think About It

Spending some time genuinely thinking about and strategically planning for your post-college plans isn't lazy; it's important. And some people might want to give themselves some time to focus on such an important decision while not also trying to juggle college classes and other obligations. If you have the luxury of being able to take some time to be mindful about where you want your post-college life to go, don't be shy about admitting that.

I Want to Go to Graduate School

This lets people know that you have plans for graduate school and are actively working to figure out how to make those plans a reality.

Additionally, it lets people know that you are already in the process of working out the details, which may mean full-time work, an internship, or time off studying for an entry exam. Regardless of the specifics, this answer lets folks know that you already have plans in motion.

I'm Looking for a Job as a (Potential Career Choice)

Using the "What are you doing after graduation?" question as a networking opportunity isn't cheating -- it's smart. If you want to go into a certain field or work for a certain company, get the word out. Don't be shy about telling people what you're looking for and what you're interested in. Doing so is an important form of networking, and you never know who might be able to help you get your foot in the door somewhere.

I'm Going to Help My Family Out for Awhile

This can mean you're working for your family's business or that you're going home to help care for a sick family member.

And while you don't need to share the details if you don't want to, mentioning that you'll be supporting your family in one form or another lets people know that you already have plans in the works.

I'm Not Sure and I'm Open to Suggestions

People who ask about your post-graduation plans are likely experiencing several things: They genuinely care about you and want to know what you'll be doing after college. They want to give you advice. They think they can help you in some way. Or they're just nosy and want to know what the skinny is. No matter the details, it never hurts to hear what someone else has to say. You never know who might provide a gem of insight that sparks a personal epiphany for you or that provides a connection you weren't expecting. No matter what your plans are, after all, there's no reason to shy away from an opportunity to make things more solid and secure.