Friday, November 24th, 2017

Advising Advice: How to Do College When You’re an Introvert

Posted on November 08, 2017 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Janis Albright

Having gone through college as an introvert and, now, meeting many introverts as an advisor has made me think about how important it is for us to pay attention to our personalities in order to feel fulfilled during the college experience and beyond.

Do you prefer to have a nice dinner at home with some friends rather than going to a crowded restaurant? Do you like to think through a question during class before raising your hand? If so, you may have introversion tendencies. You may not necessarily be shy but may be happier when you can live in quieter, low-key environments. There are many ranges to the questions above, but there are probably many similarities.

Did you know that there are many famous introverts who made a quiet difference in this world such as Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Charles Darwin, and Eleanor Roosevelt? Even though our culture tends to favor extrovertswho are just as wonderfulit is estimated that a third to a half of the population are introverts.

The main “takeaway” is to find the zone of energy that works for you. Here are several tips inspired by Susan Cain, author of QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

Find quiet spaces on campus where you can think deeply and recharge yourself. This solitude can lead to creativity and time to generate your own ideas. This is helpful for yourself, and if you are involved in group projects, you will have time to work out your own ideas before being asked to share them with others.

If you need to be in busy areas, take advantage of noise cancelling headphones.

Involve yourself in experiences that are important to you.

Take time to read and write, if you wish.

Find a few close friends in which you can develop meaningful relationships and share interests. This may take you a little longer, but it is worth it. Also, it will take the pressure off of feeling like you will miss out on something if you do not socialize in large groups.

Advocate for yourself. If you need more time to participate in discussions in class, let your professor know or join a smaller group. By speaking up, there may be some choices to negotiate.

Give yourself credit for your ideas and interests. Practice sharing yourself in comfortable settings, since others can benefit from your talents and creativity!

It is ok if you do not want to be a leader, in the strict sense of the word. Remember that leadership can also mean developing a long-lasting involvement in an interest. For example, I know a student who has been monitoring the water quality of Casco Bay for over three years. I consider her a leader in environmental conservation.

Want to learn more? The Career & Employment Hub offers several self-assessments to give you insights on your personality.  Also, having conversations with your faculty and professional advisors can give you time to reflect on college choices and can help you connect your interests to meaningful experiences. In the end, enjoy your journey and know that you have a lot to offer by being an introvert!