Conversation Starters for High School/College Reunion Attendees

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of potential conversation starters one can use at a high school/college reunion, with my notes on their effectiveness/potential ramifications.

  • “What’s going on these days?” — Politely vague.
  • “So how’s things?” — Pretty open-ended. You may get a succinct life update that allows for logical follow-ups and potentially interesting shared experiences. You may get a super long, super boring answer that you feel compelled to hear out since you asked the question. You may get one or two words and no follow up question, at which point you’re justified in pretending you need to use the bathroom.
  • “I saw on facebook/instagram/whatever that you’re [insert major life event i.e. job change, marriage, child, etc.]. So cool*!” — While this admits that you use social media, it speeds things up. Cut the palaver, get to the good stuff. *Can also replace cool with “amazing” or “neat” (if you’re the type of person to use “neat” casually).
  • “So please be honest — who did you vote for to be president?” — This is pretty aggressive. It could turn into an interesting and thoughtful conversation about the state of politics and polarization in modern America, which may be neat if you’re into that, but it could also devolve into regurgitated punditry from the latest podcast you or your former classmate listened to, which I guess is also cool if you’re into that.
  • “How you living?” — Could be construed as innocently asking “what’s up?” or could be construed as asking “What’s your socioeconomic status?” Risky.
  • “You look great!” — If you’re telling the truth, this is really sweet. If you’re lying, this is just vicious.
  • “I love your outfit.” — Same as above. SO vicious.
These people have nothing to say! Three of them are literally looking at their drinks, and one is laughing at a joke she overheard in someone else’s conversation. Don’t be like these people! Have something to say!
  • “Unpopular opinion here — but I don’t like Steph Curry. Sure he’s talented and can be fun to watch, but I find his whole goodie-two-shoes persona really annoying and disingenuous. Also his sneakers are whack. Who wears Under Armor?” — Coming out with a scorching hot take like that is a surefire way to get a response out of someone, unless that person does not care about basketball or fashion at all.
  • “How’s life?(!)” — Exclamation point is optional, but can be useful to convey extra level of excitement, if you think the answer may be exceptionally boring, or if you are exceptionally boring.
  • “Have you tried this cheese!?” — Maybe you’re a cheese enthusiast! Maybe the person you’re talking to is! Exclamation point is not optional.
  • “Have you seen [insert mutual friend]? He/she looks great/awful!” — Talking about others’ appearances always goes well!
  • “I took the bus here. Aren’t buses the worst?” — Unless the person you’re talking to is a bus driver or a bus magnate, this is a sure way to find some common ground.
  • “Have you seen the trailer for the new season of Game of Thrones? Oh man I’m so excited!” — This is hit or miss. Please don’t pull out your phone and watch it at the reunion event.
  • “‘That major that you majored in don’t make no money.’ Haha I’m not talking about you! Just quoting Kanye!” — A good conversation starter if you’re drunk and a Kanye fan and the person you’re talking to is also drunk and a Kanye fan. Not a good conversation starter if you’re talking to a humanities major.
  • “So you’re still in finance, right? How do you sleep at night?” — Shots fired.
  • “So you’re still pursuing a ‘career in the arts’ right? How do you afford, like, food and housing?” — Shots also fired.
  • “It’s so good to SEE you!!!” — Very lame, unless you recently gained the ability to see.