3 answers

How can a shy person be successful in college?

Asked Evans, Georgia

I love hanging out with people and participating in activities. However, I feel very uncomfortable when I don't know anyone in the room, so often I stay in and keep to myself. When I'm with a bunch of strangers, I feel like the odd one out and have difficulty getting comfortable enough to establish personal and professional relationships. Also, if I have a question in class, I tend to try and figure it out myself instead of asking the teacher, because when I do, I feel like a bother. Any tips on how to get over this and get involved? #college #college-advice #friendship #college-success

3 answers

Jacob’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

Hi, Ciara,

I think Tracy is absolutely right - getting over your aversion to interacting with people you don't know and asking questions in class all comes down to practicing. Have the discipline to push yourself outside of your comfort zone each day. Tracy's suggestions for speaking in class are applicable to social situations too. Challenge yourself to start a conversation with a stranger each day. It doesn't have to be anything ground breaking - make small talk with the person next to you in line for coffee or checking out a book in the library. Smile at a stranger you pass walking to class. Strive to make small, incremental changes each day, and I think you will surprise yourself at how much easier interacting with people you don't know gets.

You will get out of your college experience what you put into it. Staying in your room all of the time is not a recipe for success. Many of your peers feel the same way you do right now. A great way to meet new people is to find and join organizations you are interested in. Get involved, meet new people, make mistakes! You will feel uncomfortable at first and the first months may be very difficult but I promise you that the juice will be worth the squeeze in the end.

I hope this helps - don't hesitate to reach out. Good luck!

Tracy’s Answer


I think it comes all down to practicing. For asking questions, try to have 1-2 questions you want to ask in advance during class. Even if it is something you think you might know, asking questions will help you get used to speaking up in class. Other students can also learn from the ideas that you have, if it helps to think about it in that way too. When you ask questions as they come up, they can save you a lot of heartache later when you're trying to complete the assignments for the class (because often a lot of times concepts build on each other). One other thing to consider doing is going to office hours for questions that might take a while to answer, but you may want to consider not leaning only on this (or it will become a pattern of avoidance). Finally if you have anxiety speaking up in class or general social anxiety, consider utilizing your school's counseling center to help you come up with strategies to manage it.

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

From my own experience, you overcome this. Here are some suggestions that might help:

Networking for Introverts


I agree with the other answers about it coming down to practice. I'm not sure if you're a first generation college student or not, but I was and I found asking questions in class difficult just because I had been taught growing up to avoid asking for help unless you really need it. Truth is in college asking questions and going to office hours is also a networking exercise, so definitely practice it—you may need professors for recommendations. Also, remember that plenty of people feel the same nervousness you do. If you find yourself hoping someone strikes up a conversation, remember that someone else in the room probably feels the same way. I think spinning it that way makes it easier to be the one to strike up a conversation.