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Mariah's avatar

What should I start doing now to prepare myself for a radical shift in social lifestyle in college?

Asked by Mariah (25831points) March 30th, 2010

I am a high school senior and I’ve been finding myself growing increasingly concerned about how I’ll fit in in a college environment.

First off, I am shy and very introverted. I spend a lot of time alone, which is fine with me, but that’s not to say that I’d be content with having no friends in college. I want to have friends.

I’ve just been worried about it lately because I met most of my good friends in preschool, and my friend-making skills haven’t gotten a lot of exercise since then. Add the mix the fact that I despise small talk and am awful at it, and I’m having trouble picturing myself forming relationships with any new people.

I’m also concerned because I am well aware that I have had a very sheltered life up through now. For one thing, I live in a very small town. For another, since the age of fourteen I’ve been on prescription medication that cannot be mixed with alcohol; as a result I have never drunk alcohol. I am on this medication indefinitely, so it’s entirely possible that I will never drink alcohol, and I certainly won’t be able to do so in college. Parties don’t appeal to me either, especially if I’d be the only sober person there.

Knowing all this, is there any hope for me in college? What could I be doing now to make the transition less of a shock?

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24 Answers

DeanV's avatar

I think you have some misconceptions about college. First off, the alcohol. Seek it out, and you’ll definitely find large amounts of alcohol, or don’t, and nobody will care or notice. Unless you plan on going to Chico State, it’s not all about partying.

College is not like high school. There is not pressure to go to parties, get drunk, or be popular. That’s not how you make real friends.
If you’re worried about not really having friends, don’t. You’ll make some. I’d assume the college you’re going to will have plenty of people, and quite a few just like you, and they’ll seek you out. You seem to be coherent, breathing, and consistently sober, which should be enough to make some friends.
Or at least it has been for me.

Disclaimer: I am a joint high school/college student (community college) student and may have a completely different perspective of college than those “real” college students. Or I may be right. Who knows.

Val123's avatar

The coolest thing about college is you find people who are just like you. The clique crap is gone for the most part. The rumor crap is gone. Lot’s of college kids don’t drink, although the media would have you think otherwise. You have a good head on your shoulders. I’ll bet you do well and have a great time!

FutureMemory's avatar

From my experience the culture of college is far different than it is in high school. I bet you’ll make friends with other students in your field of study.

janbb's avatar

I think I remember from another thread that you are interested in math and sciences. Why don’t you find out what clubs and activities at the colleges you are interested in revolve around these activities and figure on becoming active in them? That way, you will meet some likeminded kids and will not have to worry about the party scene. Also, find out where the most social room in the library for studying is and make a habit of hanging out there.

squidcake's avatar

I wish I had an answer…I’m in almost the exact same situation.

Ivan's avatar

You have absolutely nothing to worry about whatsoever.

kevbo's avatar

Being introverted doesn’t necessarily mean you are simply bad with people. It often means you prefer one on one conversation vs group interaction. So look for and be open to those kinds of interactions.

Being from a small town isn’t a bad thing either. Sometimes it seems like small town folks are more successful, maybe because they see the big human dynamics picture up
close—I don’t know what the truth is behind that really, but it is something I’ve noticed.

Typically, Asian American clubs at colleges are less alcohol focused and maybe more focused on dances and other social stuff—at least that’s what I’ve been told. Maybe poke around that scene and see if it works for you.

As someone who struggled a decent amount to find the right crowd in college, I’ll also say to be both persistent and patient. Treat it as a shopping experience and don’t be too sentimental about sticking it out with a crowd that doesn’t work for you. Most colleges are intentionally very diverse places, so trust that there are people you will enjoy and try to enjoy the process of discovering who they are.

Unfortunately, the small talk
aspect does kind of suck. You will have lots of repeat conversations about majors and classes and exams and what are you doing for break and all that crap. I might have to shoot myself just to stop thinking about it. ;-)

Val123's avatar

I love great, thoughtful questions from young people!

mrrich724's avatar

Join a Sorority. You NEED to learn how to socialize and make small talk to survive the business world, so get used to it and get practice. Doing something like joining a sorority will be great practice for life in general.

Against the stereotype, you don’t have to drink to be in one either, so please don’t let that impede you. If you think it will, join a fraternity/sorority that isn’t greek, like the “science” fraternity (or the one for whatever major you are).

Joining a frat, and a business fraternity are the two greatest things I did in college that helped me grow.

If you have too much social anxiety to picture this, so what? Do it anyway. It will make you a better person to do something that you don’t want to do.

But you have to do something, the curriculum is only half (or less) of the college experience.

Val123's avatar

@mrrich724 My impression of Sororities =...High School cliques…..?

mrrich724's avatar

No way. In a highschool clique, you hang out with a small group of people just like you. Certainly, there are some sororities like that. But in the bid process you get to see them and choose where you want to go. Choose one that is diverse.

Within my business frat of about 150 people, we had exercises where we HAD to literally talk to every single other person. But it was in a fun and encouraging setting. Granted, people get comfy in their own little group within the organization, but they also hang out with people who they normally wouldn’t, and the org. makes it easy to do that. In my business frat (co-ed) I had my group of friends, but there were also times that I went to dinners and went out with people who I knew very little about just because the fraternity gave us a common bond.

By the end of two years, I knew about every single one of them.

Also, joining a group, “cliquey” or not, exposes you to other opportunities including things like “corporate tours” “dance marathons” (a fundraising event), and socials which you wouldn’t normally hear about if you limited yourself to a small group of friends not within an organization.

And even if you could say it was a “highschool clique” it’s a huge one (think 100+ people), and it constantly begs of you to be social. So it would help the askers dilemma.

When you meet that many people, you find others that are interested in your various interests. For example, I had my little group of friends I did everything with. But then I had my group of friends who liked doing campus activities, my group who liked the out doors, the people who liked spending time at the dog shelter, the gym people, and by having that automatic excuse to just be friends (the organizational bond) I got to partake in all that. I never would have tried donating time at the dog shelter in my life. But this person Laura asked me to one day, so for the heck of it I tried it out (I only said yes b/c she was in my frat, I didn’t really know her prior to her asking me). And it was incredible.

crystalvegan's avatar

I think you’ll learn how to open up over time, and if you plan on living in the dorm, which, I highly recommend it, you’ll grow close with you’re roommates and neighbors with almost no effort. Just don’t close yourself off and paint a big sign that says, “I’m no hope.” I’m getting this feeling you have a ton of preconceived notions and have already determined you WILL be different. The truth is, everyone is different, and everyone has these same concerns. We all want friend, we all want to feel validated, and we want to be apart of the bigger picture. It will happen for you, just be you and you’ll find your group sooner or later.

Just_Justine's avatar

stick to whom you are. Don’t change anything about yourself unless it feels easy and natural. You will be fine you’ll see.

lilikoi's avatar

You are overthinking this big time. In college, everyone is welcome. No one will hate you if you don’t drink alcohol. Not everyone parties it up 24/7 and spends college hungover with their heads in a fog like some movies would have you believe. You’ll love it. I am from a small town, too. When you get to college, you will be surrounded by intellectual people that you can actually have a real conversation with. There are so many people that the likelihood of you finding someone you mesh with well is much higher than in high school. Just be friendly and a little outgoing and you’ll find your place. My friends used to go from door to door at the beginning of the year just saying Hey! What’s up! to everyone.

@kevbo That’s most likely specific to your school. Every school is different. It’s the people that make the club not the club that makes the people. If you have a bunch of partiers in a club, the club will party, Asian American focused or not.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I would suggest not joining a sorority; that’s where you’ll find most of the drinking, with the Greek organizations, even though campuses ban it. At some colleges, the sororities are like the in crowd in high school.

I would suggest NOT missing freshman orientation, even though people may tell you it’s lame. If you’re living on campus, it will help you meet other freshman, and figure out your way around school.

Look at joining whatever clubs are available for your major, or look for theater or outdoor activity groups, if those interest you. Also, keep in mind that there are plenty of opportunities to study abroad, with scholarships, so getting to know the people in the department that controls that increases your chances of getting a year abroad paid for.

My daughter is rather shy, and went to a school where she knew no one. Her freshman year roommate became her best friend.

mrrich724's avatar

Eh, I would say that (after being in two frats my entire time in college) that “the most drinking” does not occur just b/c you joined a sorority or a fraternity. You choose to do it or not, and no matter where you look you will see it but you will have the choice to partake or not, and even in those groups, there will not be a shortage of people to meet just because you don’t drink.

You will be exposed to drinking with or without frats. In fact, when I did my most drinking in 5 years of college was my first year, when I wasn’t in a frat, so I didn’t have that much to keep me occupied!

YARNLADY's avatar

I guess I’m not the right person to ask, I went to a college where no alcohol was allowed, and the women had to wear skirts or dresses, no pants or shorts.

From what I see on college campuses is thousands of different people, with thousands of different likes and dislikes. You will have no trouble finding like minded people.

Fenris's avatar

Activities clubs – common activities present common interests lead to common bonds.
Common classes and common teachers lead to common frustrations.
Ayahuasca melts your brain and can greatly help in rehabilitation from self-loathing and agorophobia.

You’ll be doing the exact same thing as a bunch of others who are all there for vaguely the same reasons as you. If all else fails, you’d be surprised at the good results you’d get by posting this exact same question on a sheet of paper in a commons area.

MrsAshleyO's avatar

If you are religious, find a great religious group that challenges you and makes you feel welcome. A substance-free or ‘wellness’ dorm is also a great idea. It will be full of ‘the geeks’ and ‘the antisocials’ but in the end you’ll be the smart one because your roommate won’t be puking on your homework. (PS I loved my substance free dorm. I made friends that lasted through college and beyond.)

janbb's avatar

Following @MrsAshleyO ‘s suggestion, there are often quiet dorms or quiet floors where the more studious students room. See if you can request one. If you are lucky, in any case, your roommate will be something of a pal to start out with and you will meet people through her. In any case, whatever dorm you are in, you should find one or two people to whom you can relate.

mattbrowne's avatar

Deepen your love of learning. Enjoy other stuff besides studying. Everyone needs to recharge the battery. Do fun stuff in groups like a choir or sport activity. Find your niche, stuff that most people might not be interested in. And other people with similar unusual interests will find you. Relax. Everything will work out.

Disc2021's avatar

Although I’m not in the same boat as you (I’ve been corrupted and started drinking), I can very much identify with you – as you may have noticed after answering my question…

What advice I could offer you: try to find your niche on campus. Look into the clubs and activities – try to find one with an “open” and “laid back” crowd of people. If it seems like you need to be a follower and think, do, say, and act as everyone else, chances are you’re looking in the wrong place. If you feel like you’re putting effort into changing yourself – do not, unless you absolutely want and could appreciate the change. It shouldn’t be or feel too hard.

What you could do now is try figuring out what things you love to do most and figure out where your energy is best spent. Practice generally introducing yourself (in front of the mirror, to your friends or in your head) – pretend everyone you meet is interested in everything (maybe not EVERYTHING) you have to say about yourself – they’ll be listening for similarities/things in common. If the college doesn’t offer much for your niche, try looking elsewhere; try looking out in town or getting a job.

If worse comes to worst, you still have all of the things you do now as well as all of your current friends. Keep those bonds strong, let them know you haven’t forgotten about them and visit often. You could make college strictly about school and studying and keep your social life elsewhere.

Above all, have fun, study hard, expand your horizons and good luck!

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