Image description: A collage showing graduating students throwing their caps with floating question marks in the air.
Image description: A collage showing graduating students throwing their caps with floating question marks in the air.

Illustration by Alreem AlAbbas

Ten Questions You Should Not Ask Your Graduating Senior

Someone you know may be moving onto greener pastures come this May. As they reflect on their four years of being the black sheep of campus, here is how to give them the care they need to transition into a new phase.

Mar 25, 2024

There’s a bittersweet symphony that comes from escaping the Saadiyat bubble. In a few months, four hundred something people are about to feel it. But being thrust into the real world isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, and it can trigger a robust existential crisis of sorts. Here’s a frequently asked questions page to help you relate to the seniors in your life.
1) “Are you free at (insert time here)”?
They’re not. Don’t even bother. Whether it be yet another cover letter, grad school app, or daily existential crisis, they’re busier than they (or you) have ever been and will let you know about it.
2) “What are your plans after graduation?”
Four years in a bubble has left life after it imperceivable. They don’t have plans, or even if they do, they don’t feel real and everyone else’s plans seem better. And it’s the feeling that matters in a sphere that has been defined so much by narrow comparison for four years.
3) “How has the job search been?”
Imagine a treasure hunt through a maze — but usually the treasure at the end is an underpaying offer after a few rejections on the fifth interview round. For good measure, the maze is designed by the same people who thought FoS was a good idea. All the loot pickups throughout are reserved for locals, people who secured an internship in their junior year of high school, and the very well-connected. Maybe they’ll get back to you having found their way out next year, or employed as a research assistant at NYUAD.
4) “What was your favorite part of NYU Abu Dhabi?”
Who knows. Maybe one day, young and naive, they had an answer to this question. But the days and weeks and months have blended together that they’ve taken everything for granted.
5) “What will you miss the most?”
Besides having the basic responsibilities of life taken care of and everything within a ten-minute walk, there’s often a small list. First of all, missing something requires processing that you’re leaving it — there’s been no time to. Besides, it’s probably the campus cats, or D2 omelets, or Wizz Air Abu Dhabi — it never ends up being the campus, the community, or the classes.
6) “What if you’d taken a gap year”?
Many times they have pondered this alternate universe, where they never even tried to find the “Plus” in “Remote Plus”. But one more year of watching the university roll downhill may not have been the best cure for them. They wouldn’t trade the year of trying to decipher Vice Chancellor emails, getting in online arguments, and forgetting to mute their microphone on Zoom for the world.
7) “What would you major in if you could do it all over again”?
There are two sides to this question, but rarely is it what they graduated with. Either something that would have provided actual free time or something that would have provided immediate employment prospects (for STEM majors, maybe both!)
8) “What will your coffee routine look like?”
Years of going to Blacksmith four times a week but they had never truly conceptualized the fact that they were spending nine U.S. dollars on a latte. Free of the shackles of campus dirhams that have to be spent, they might have to (unthinkably) brew their own or take caffeine pills. After all, the dependency is a permanent souvenir.
9) “How do you plan to fill your days”?
With the boundless comparative freedom that comes with living alone and working on a 9 to 6 schedule rather than 24/7, right now the path forward seems to involve doom scrolling, desperate LinkedIn outreach, or binging shows and processing these four years — depending on how well they’ve managed to overcome the weaknesses of the CDC or get into grad school.
10) “Are you coming to the Etihad Arena for my graduation?”
In a fitting end to four years of getting the short end of every stick, they’re in the last class to have to graduate in a literal gym with basketball courts. Don’t remind them.
Ethan Fulton is Editor-in-Chief and Satire Columnist. Email them at
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