College is a time for exploration. It’s where you go to get a taste of adult life and find yourself. It’s the perfect place and time to try new things and put yourself out there.
While many students are excited to do so, introverts may not be as enthusiastic. Introverts are deep thinkers who tend to stay to themselves and listen more than they talk. Their personalities may not be as boisterous as extroverts, but they’re still interesting people who crave genuine relationships, opportunities, and development.
Introverts have to navigate unique challenges to achieve academic success and personal growth in college. But thankfully, you’ve come to the right place for guidance. Here’s how to thrive in college as an introvert.
Understand the Impact of Isolation
Staying at home and to oneself can be more appealing for introverts. But these habits can lead to isolation and loneliness.
Unfortunately, isolation is connected to mental health conditions like anxiety. When you isolate, you avoid social interaction at all costs, cancel plans all of the time, and spend a lot of time alone. You may start to feel anxious about not interacting with the world, get down on yourself, and isolate even more.
Or, when your anxiety creeps up on you, you may not want to show this version of yourself to your fellow classmates and professors. So, you stay to yourself and avoid interacting with others. It’s a vicious cycle of anxiety and isolation that you don’t want to be in.
Hopefully, understanding what isolation can lead to inspires you to fight it. They don’t have to be huge gestures, either. Start small. For example, instead of studying in your dorm all the time, go to the library. Go to lunch with your roommate once a week to get to know them better. Have lunch in the cafeteria.
As natural as it may be for you, do your best not to distance yourself.
Set Personal and Academic Goals
What does success in college look like to you? Having a clear vision for what you want to achieve academically and personally while going to school gives you something to strive for and stay focused on. You’ll be less likely to give up when you have meaningful goals.
Your goals can be as big or as small as you want them to be. For example, a personal goal could be to make one new friend this year. An academic goal could be to achieve a certain grade point average. You can also establish long-term goals, like contributing to every classroom discussion and forming a study group.
Write all of your goals down and attach action plans for achieving them. What exact steps will you take to achieve your goals? Keep your goals close to you so that they stay at the forefront of your mind when things get tough.
Be Willing to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
You can write down all the goals you want, but if you aren’t willing to do what it takes to accomplish them, it won’t matter. Much of what’s necessary to be successful requires you to step outside your comfort zone.
Not doing the uncomfortable things to ignite growth will stall your academic and personal success. So, do the things that scare you the most, whether that be speaking up in class, saying hi to someone you don’t know, working in a group setting, or attending a dorm party.
You don’t have to rush into stepping outside your comfort zone. However, don’t use being uncomfortable as an excuse to stay where you are.
Be Intentional in the Relationships You Build
Although it’s nice to have a lot of friends, that may not be realistic for you as an introvert. It takes a lot for you to open up and be vulnerable with someone. And that’s okay. It’s better to be intentional in your relationship-building than not.
Focus on building healthy relationships one at a time. When you meet someone you seem to click with, open up the lines of communication and ask deeper questions as time goes on to get to know this person. Make time for them. Establish boundaries in the relationship that you both respect.
Cultivating genuine friendships is a long-term commitment. But the effort is worth it for the all-around support you get from healthy relationships.
Take Advantage of Office Hours
Not nearly enough students take advantage of their professors’ office hours. Building a real relationship with each of your professors can be incredibly beneficial as an introverted college student.
For one, they’re one-on-one interactions. So, you’ll be more comfortable opening up. Two, it can feel really lonely when you aren’t able to make connections with classmates and have them to lean on to help you through lessons.
But you can count on your professors to welcome you with open arms and guide you through what you’re having trouble with. In establishing a strong connection with a professor, you may be inspired to try and build relationships with your classmates.
Write down office hours for each of your professors. Then, determine when you want to attend your first meeting. The first one is always the most nerve-wracking. So, getting it out of the way quickly will help you see that it isn’t so scary and is a positive experience.
After you go to your first office hours, commit to going a couple of times a month and as needed when issues arise. Taking advantage of this resource could be the difference between thriving in college and not.
Ultimately, success and personal growth are attainable for introverted students. Come out of your shell a bit and be intentional in everything you do, and you’re college experience will be all that you want it to be and more.