College isn’t really an introvert’s natural habitat. As a college student, you’re expected to have a roommate, go to classes with hundreds of other people and even go to parties. If you’re an introvert, none of that sounds appealing to you, and you might have trouble explaining why without seeming standoffish or asocial. If you feel like the world is run by extroverts who think you’re doing everything wrong, stop that right now. Succeeding as an introvert in college isn’t hard at all. Here’s how:
1. Sit in the front of your classroom
Lecture Hall classes can mean hundreds of people in one room with you. Overwhelming, I know. While upper-level classes are often smaller, even classes of 40 can be intimidating for introverts. The student population in classes resembles economic inequality in the United States, where 1 percent of the class comprises approximately 80 percent of the discussion. If you sit in the first row, it’ll seem like the class has only the 10 people next to you and a handful of students behind you. You’ll also participate more and be more engaged in your professor’s lecture.
2. Turn down the party invitation
The key to succeeding as an introvert is to be honest about being an introvert to your extrovert friends. Extroverts might never turn down a party invitation, but introverts might find staying in and watching a movie a better way to spend a weekend. If you feel pressured into going to a party and spend the whole time wanting to go home, no one’s going to have a good time — don’t feel embarrassed to just say no.
3. If you do go to a party, find the right spot
Just because introverts don’t always want to party doesn’t mean they never want to party. If you do go out but are intimidated by the amount of people there, find a spot where you’re comfortable. Apartments and houses often have a room, balcony or porch where there are just a few people hanging out. Find that spot, and either stay there or retreat to that place when you feel overwhelmed.
4. Eat meals alone
Along with scavenger hunts and bowling, meals are humankind’s great social activity. Standard college behavior dictates that we treat eating as more than just a bodily function, but something that must always be done with other people. While it’s always good to catch up with a friend over lunch or talk about your classes over dinner, you shouldn’t feel obligated to make plans for every single meal during the week. It can get exhausting, and meals could be a great way to take a break from people. It’s OK to eat alone in the dining hall or take your food to go. You’re not a loser.
5. Practice public speaking before doing it
Public speaking can strike fear even in the hearts of extroverts. But for an introvert, the prospect of giving a class presentation can be absolutely paralyzing. Some people are naturals at public speaking, but you need to recognize that it is ultimately a skill. And, like any skill, it gets better with practice. Prepare well in advance for class presentations to the point where saying everything feels natural. If you need to, look over the heads of everyone in the classroom and give the impression that you’re looking at them even if you’re not. The public speaking lab on campus is also a helpful resource with more advice and people you can practice with.