An Introvert’s Guide to Getting Involved in College

Going to college as an introverted person can be scary, especially when the college stories you hear are all about how your older brother made his best friends for life and your third cousin met all 15 of her future bridesmaids her first week on campus.

If you’re curious about where you might fall on the intro- or extroversion scale, try this easy quiz to find out. However, no matter which type of ‘vert you are, if you’re someone who values time alone or has never found it easy to meet new people, you may be feeling anxious about how you’ll get involved on campus.

Here’s the thing: Being “involved” doesn’t necessarily mean having a huge group of friends or joining every club. Being involved can also mean just experiencing campus in your own way by doing the things you like to do. And you might even meet some new people along the way!

Join a student group.

Every campus has tons of groups to join, all with different themes and levels of commitment to suit your fancy. Joining a student group gives you the opportunity to meet students with similar interests to you, and sometimes that similar interest is all you need to spark a new friendship.

Nervous to attend your first club meeting? Give yourself a three-week trial period. It’s important to realize you have the power to remove yourself from groups or activities you don’t like, but it’s also important to keep an open mind and give new experiences a chance. All things take time, so even if you don’t feel comfortable right away, give your new club or student group a couple of weeks before you decide it’s not for you.

Connect through classes.

Classes are actually a great way to meet people on campus and make connections. You’ll probably find an “unassigned-assigned seat” and will get to know some of the faces around you over the course of the semester. If you’re not sure how to break the ice, ask a nonchalant question about a homework assignment or clarification on something the professor said. Start from there, and see how it goes! You can form surprisingly strong bonds by commiserating over homework assignments and test grades. 

Joining a study group or even just a class group chat is another great way to help keep you connected to those other students. (And bonus: It can actually help you succeed in the class!) If it’s a course for your major, chances are you’ll see some of the same students in future semesters. Always nice to see a familiar face!

Attend events on campus (by yourself!).

Most universities host different shows, lectures, and guest speakers on campus every semester. As a student, you most likely get the opportunity to attend these events at a reduced price or sometimes even for free. So go try them out! 

We know what you’re thinking. As an introvert, walking into an event full of people by yourself probably sounds like your worst nightmare. But hear us out. Shows and lectures are great, because once you get there, the event begins! You have the opportunity to speak to people as you arrive or even exchange a few words with the people seated next to you, but you aren’t pressured to make conversation all night. You see a great performance while still putting yourself out there in a new way.

Visit the rec center.

They say that exercise is good for the soul—and it may even help get rid of that cramp you get in your side after walking up the stairs to your second-floor classroom. Either way, taking advantage of the recreation facilities is another great way to get out and about on campus. 

This is another instance, almost like attending events on campus, where the goal isn’t necessarily to find a giant group of friends that will become future members of your wedding party, but a way to participate in what your campus has to offer. From taking the group fitness classes or showing up at the same time each week, you may even start to see some people you recognize! What starts as a nod of recognition while waiting for the water fountain could blossom into a beautiful friendship.

Set reasonable goals.

Nobody can flip a switch to become super social overnight, and you shouldn’t expect that of yourself. If you find your social battery draining quickly, set reasonable goals to help make these new experiences seem more manageable.

Start small. Challenge yourself to do something you wouldn’t normally do, like attend a student group or a guest speaker event on campus once a week. With specific goals in mind, you can hold yourself accountable for trying new things while keeping a regular routine. A healthy balance of socializing and time spent doing your own thing? Sounds like a recipe for a happy introvert.

Getting involved is difficult for anyone in college, so if you’re an introverted person trying your best to step out of your shell, you should be proud! Whether you walk away from college with a heap of new friends or one rock-solid relationship, you’ll know that your time was well spent learning, growing, and expanding your worldview in your own unique way.

UIUC Admissions

UIUC Admissions

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