For us quiet, introverted folk, meeting new people and going new places is always a fraction less desirable than for our more gregarious counterparts. In my experience, the college process was the epitome of the introverted struggle – because of course, it’s not enough that the process is so difficult in the first place. So here's a rundown of the process from an introvert's point of view.
At every school I visited, I took a tour that was run by the admissions office. Registering for the tour shows your interest in the school, but during, you’re forced to stroll awkwardly around campus, learning about the programs and activities while trying to avoid eye contact. A couple of times, I was asked to state my name and intended major for the group, contrary to my desire to stay silent. My mother, on the other hand, seemed to ask endless questions, and I cringed every time she raised her hand, no matter how helpful the information turned out to be. On one tour, I made a good friend, and by an awesome twist of fate, we now live in the same residence hall. For the most part, however, college tours are defined by awkward encounters with people you may never see again.
For many schools, an interview is required, if not highly recommended, and also a source of dread. Many introverts hate small talk, and talking about myself and my activities, goals and desires is not my strong point. Fortunately, I had to do only one interview, and it went very well. My interviewer was extremely friendly and conducted the experience like a casual conversation. While I dreaded the experience for months before it actually occurred, I can assure you that it won’t be nearly as bad as you imagine.
It’s a proud moment when you make your choice official, but when you start wearing your college sweatshirt at least once a week (and who can blame you? Those things are comfy), people tend to want to know more. When did you decide? What made you pick that school? What are you going to study? What are you going to do with that degree? While well-intentioned, such inquiries become annoyingly repetitive, and talking to people is a drag. After all, if you had wanted them to know, wouldn’t you have told them already? It’s not so negative as all this, however. Personally, I enjoyed the questions, because I was excited to have committed, but many of my friends became disenchanted with everyone’s polite interest.
Accepted Students’ Day
Today is the day that you get to meet potential classmates. You feel like you have to make a good impression and everyone is judging you. You also have to decide if you can truly see yourself here, and there is so much information bombarding you, that by the end of the day, you are completely overwhelmed. I do love making new friends and meeting new people, but walking up to someone and starting a conversation takes a special strength of will. Sometimes, an extrovert will adopt you and your problems will be solved, as they take the lead and introduce themselves to everyone in hearing distance. Otherwise, remember that everyone feels slightly awkward and actually does want to talk.
In somewhat of an extended version of Accepted Students’ Day, everyone arrives on campus eager and terrified for this new beginning. Still, everyone feels awkward and wants new friends while desperately trying to understand what is going on. Hopefully, you find a default friend in your roommate or someone else on your floor, or perhaps you can meet up with people from the class GroupMe, or that extrovert from Accepted Students’ Day will invite you along. I have also found that “introverts attract,” or, people who share likes and values seem to gravitate together, ensuring a buffer against your impossibly large class. While the days of introducing yourself, your major and your favorite animal seem unending, classes will soon begin and you’ll find awesome people to brave the dining hall with.
While you may greet people on the sidewalk and leave the conversation stressing about how weird your voice sounded when you said hello, remember that everyone else is stressing out too. The college process is hard for everyone, but once you get on campus, everything will be fine. I speak from experience when I say you will make amazing friends, join cool clubs and find your place on campus. It may not happen automatically, and it’s definitely more difficult when you’re inclined to be quiet, but an introverted nature makes you a truly great friend and will get you far in life – just with a little less talking.
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