According to Merriam-Webster, an introvert is, “a reserved or shy person who enjoys spending time alone.” In contrast, extroverts are more focused on “what is outside the self.” While no one is entirely one or the other, many people can identify with one of these groups.
Being an introvert in college can be a challenge. In fact, many of my struggles freshman year were due to the difficulty of adapting to an environment where I was constantly surrounded by people. Adding to this, I lived on a very small campus, where everyone knew each other.
Over the course of the year, I learned a thing or two about maintaining my mental health as an introvert at a small college.
Here are five tips for introverts in college, ranging from self-care to class participation:
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1. Add Some “Me Time” to Your Schedule
College can be rough for introverts as they are surrounded by people all day. Over time, this can become taxing. To avoid this, find ways to add more personal time to your schedule.
For example, my “me time” can consist of drawing, running, reading, learning a new skill, or even exploring my city solo.
2. Phone a Friend
Last semester, I discovered that if I call a close friend or family member in the hour before I have a meeting with a professor, the meeting goes better. Having recently spoken with someone I am comfortable with, that attitude carries over to my meeting, causing me to be noticeably bubblier and more confident.
You could also call a friend while you prepare for a job interview or presentation. Just be sure to set an alarm so you don’t lose track of time!
3. Know When to Say No
One of the most popular tips for introverts in college is to break out of your comfort zone and join some clubs. That said, it can be easy to join a lot of clubs and then feel exhausted from the commitments.
The moral? It’s great to be involved, but you don’t want to feel burnt out. Which organizations do you love being part of, and which are you just doing because they look good on your resume? Additionally, where do you really feel a sense of belonging?
Don’t use being an introvert as an excuse to drop everything and stay in your dorm room, but do find a healthy balance regarding how you spend your time.
4. Find a Few Close Friends Who Understand You
In high school, my friends and I had very similar personalities, so our energy levels usually matched. However, now that I am in college, I am also friends with a lot of extroverts. This can be hard at times. For example, I might feel like staying in while they want to go to an event.
Introverts tend to prefer hanging out with a few close friends, rather than in large groups. Obviously, everyone is different and we can also have lots of friends. However, it can be great to know that there are people who really understand you and will be there when you don’t feel like going out.
If you are friends with a mix of introverts and extroverts, try to find a few other people in your group who tend to enjoy spending time alone. This way, you can alternate spending time with the group and calmer hangouts with a few close friends.
Don’t write off being friends with extroverts though; they are great at introducing you to new people and opportunities!
5. Come Up with Talking Points in Advance
Last year, I had several classes where participation was a huge part of the overall grade. However, I found that it was hard for me to jump into class discussions. By the time that I had decided what I was going to say and had calmed my nerves, the conversation had already moved on!
I brought this up to my professors, and they recommended preparing several questions and/or talking points ahead of time if I know what the discussion will be about. This definitely works, as it gives you more time to think out what you are going to say and get used to the idea of sharing these points with your peers.
Another idea… it can be scary, but consider volunteering to start the discussion. This way, you get to choose what to address. You will also show your professor that you are confident and prepared.
Are You an Introvert? What are your best tips for introverts in college?
Did you find these tips for introverts in college helpful? Are there any tips that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments!