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How can a shy person be successful in college?

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


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Jacob’s Answer

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!


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Zach’s Answer

In my experience, Professors are usually bored during their office hours because nobody comes to visit (especially in large, entry-level classes). My Professors were always very helpful and friendly whenever I went for help during office hours. I remember being nervous about going because it can be intimidating, but I was always glad that I did and left with a better understanding. Don't worry about being a bother.

As far as being successful in other areas of college, it can be harder if you're shy. I felt shy at college too. So many new places and people. I found myself just "pretending" that I was social. I would think "what would a social person do in this situation" and I would try to do that. Fake it until you make it! The truth is that EVERYONE is scared in college. Some are just better at hiding it.

Being social can be draining if you're an introvert, so remember to make time for self-care.

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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.


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Cristal’s Answer

Hi Ciara!

Definitely understandable to feel shy in a new environment with new people. Like everyone said above, practice practice practice! You'll find that you will be more and more comfortable in these situations after putting yourself out there more often.

I think joining different clubs and organizations that you care about is also helpful. It places you in a community of people who have similar interests (that's already a starting point for a conversation)!

Good luck! College is a great experience and you'll learn a lot about communication as the years go by (:

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Rachel’s Answer

Practice, practice, practice. Social skills are just that...skills. You have to practice them and work on them just like you would other activities like sports and musical instruments. Don't be so hard on yourself. Just consider meeting people part of your learning experience in college. Each time you have a conversation with someone you don't know, it will be a small success in your college career.

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Ken’s Answer

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

Networking for Introverts

https://www.themuse.com/advice/an-introverts-guide-to-networking


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. Karissa Austin

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Richard’s Answer

Join groups based on your interest or hobbies. Intramural sports are a great way to meet people without the constant pressure of conversation.

Join pre-professional societies. Making connections for your future career is harder for introverts, so get started early.

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