As the start of the first school year that I will not be a part of approaches and my brother heads off to his first year of college, I’ve been thinking about my college experience as an extreme introvert and shy student and how I was able to overcome a lot of the challenges I faced during the first couple years. I know that students like myself can find it hard to ask others about their experience and I remember looking for resources on being shy in college and not finding a whole lot. I decided to compile a few of my tips on how to get the most out of your college experience and blossom into a more confident adult.
- Don’t be afraid to take up space on campus- it’s yours too. Study in public spaces. Going to school in Southern California, I loved studying outside but for my first couple years I would only study in secluded courtyards because I was afraid to take up space on campus and be surrounded by so many other people. However, by my senior year I spent most of my studying time during the day in the main courtyards on campus that are the heart of campus, near the dining hall, coffee shop, and mail room and I felt like more a part of the community. I would see people from my classes and chat about our upcoming assignments, run into acquaintances and go to meals together, and otherwise form or strengthen connections with other students.
- Take initiative to make connections with other students. Invite people to study with you in different places on campus, to get meals, go to the nearby town, go to an on campus event, etc. In my first and second years of college I spent a lot of time waiting around to get invited to do things with people because I was scared to initiate things, but I wish I had pushed myself to invite other people. College students aren’t always good about taking initiative even if they’re not shy or introverted, so be the one who does. Reach out to fellow introverts who may be more hesitant to take the initiative you are. They’ll really appreciate your gesture and you’ll gain confidence in your own social skills.
- Go to professor’s office hours early in the semester. This wasn’t always something I was good about doing, but it’s really helpful. If you’re like me, the pressure of participating in class was one of my main academic challenges in college. I had a lot of trouble feeling confident enough in my ideas to share them in the classroom. One thing that I found helped was going to professors’ office hours early in the semester. Find a question to ask or a concern to discuss with your professor, it could even be just to let the professor know that you have trouble speaking in class. What’s most important is to have a one on one conversation with your professors. I found when I did this I felt more comfortable with the professor and in their class and was able to participate in class more easily.