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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Collegiate introverts don’t need to come out of their shells

    It’s midnight, and I’m sweating. Everyone around me is laughing and talking, as they pull strangers onto the dance floor. In the corner, a couple of new acquaintances look deeply into each other’s eyes, while they confess all of their hopes and dreams to each other. In five minutes, they’ve become best friends. People mix, mingle and make memories. This is college, and for me, sometimes, it sucks.

    After a long day of chatting with people in classes, going to club meetings and working in groups, I— as an introvert— am absolutely exhausted. I’m ready to watch Netflix and reflect on my day. An extrovert would probably want to go out to dinner with friends or talk on the phone, but that’s not the way I work. I replenish my energy by spending time alone. I’m alright with that, but society — and the extrovert-driven college system — imply that I shouldn’t be.

    Our culture has expectations that don’t often connect with what introverts enjoy doing. According to studies show that about one-third to one-half of the population is estimated to be introverted.

    My younger sister is in high school, and she’s recently become obsessed with the television show “Greek.” She sees “Greek” as all college has in store for her: parties and drama, big groups of friends and lots of socializing.

    Have I failed her because my experience has been quieter than all of that? Images of college in the media seem to indicate that I’m pretty disappointing. I have friends and I enjoy meeting people, but I don’t feel like doing it all of the time.

    Society at large caters to extroverts, and that attitude carries into the college realm, both inside and outside of the classroom. As students, we’re expected to spend our leisure time screaming at football games and walking into one another’s dorm rooms unannounced to get to know each other. For many, being comfortable at college means being in a huge group of people, music blaring and cup in hand.

    In class, also, extroverts are louder and more willing to communicate their ideas, while introverts sometimes feel overwhelmed by their more animated counterparts and get overlooked.

    The supreme reign of group work and in-class participation doesn’t alleviate matters.

    I see the value in team collaboration, but I also think professors need to think more about their introverted students. Putting too much emphasis on group projects is shortsighted and unfair. We’re expected to learn how to work in groups without question, despite the fact that constant group work, and catering to the demands of others, can be very stressful for introverted students who need solitude in order to relax.

    Professors assign such projects to mimic the real world, but outside of school, we usually have more control over the jobs we do. I can choose what jobs I apply for after graduation; I cannot dictate the particulars of a professor’s syllabus.

    Teachers often try to tailor their lectures to students’ learning styles, but they should keep other characteristics of their students in mind as well. Professors should at least strive to obtain a balance between individual and team work in order to accommodate everyone.

    Additionally, though in-class participation points encourage engagement, students who feel uncomfortable with hundreds of eyes upon them should have other options. Optional short writing assignments in lieu of participation points could encourage the same level of engagement and they’d do so without hurting introverts’ morale.

    Popular conceptions of introverted people hurt morale too.

    Many believe that introverts have social anxiety, hate others or are incompetent. None of that is true. We introverts like you, we really do. You just tire us out.

    In order to change society as a whole, its individual parts must alter themselves first. I call upon you to no longer assume that those who don’t constantly talk at a party are strange or standoffish. Instead, make an effort to understand them.

    Brittany Rudolph is a sophomore studying English and art history. Follow her @DailyWildcat.

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