Students are gearing up to head home for Thanksgiving and winter breaks, and that means getting back into the swing of life with family–including explaining what you’re doing at school to your parents’ friends and your extended family. For some people (engineering majors and pre-med people), this is not so bad! For others, it can be a little stressful. Here’s how to handle some of the most common less-than-positive results.
“So you’re planning to go to law school?” or “A future teacher, I see!” – This one tends to be tossed at Political Science majors (and liberal arts majors in general) by people who see law school/teaching as a backup plan. This can be frustrating for people who actually do want to be lawyers or teachers, since it implies they’re following a predictable path, and for people who are interested in other things (for instance, being the next Nate Silver) it’s equally irritating. It’s best to pick your battles–if it’s someone you’re only going to see once, laugh and say, “Anything’s possible!” before finding some more eggnog. For family members and people who will be interacting with you when you finish school, a little more explanation can be good. If you are, say yes and give a short summary of what kind of law you want to do or why you want to become a teacher. If not, something like, “Actually, no. But I am planning to try for the Peace Corps!” will usually do the trick. You want to make the point that there are other career paths than law school or teaching that you can follow. Don’t stress about one-off encounters too much, though–over the holidays it’s best to save your energies for people who you’ll be seeing again.