How do you put yourself out there in college?
How do you become more social in college?
High school and home have been nice places to be for sure. Everything is comfortable, safe, and secure. Life has been pretty much predictable – school, friends, dates, parties and proms, family vacations, etc.
Now it’s time to go into an unknown “world” – college. And there’s reason to be both excited and anxious.
You are starting a new chapter in your life – more independence and freedom but also more worries about how you will “fit in.”
Make no mistake about it. Your college years will be a big factor in who you become as an adult. Your major will pretty much decide your career, at least at first. Your clubs and activities may determine your future hobbies and interests, and you will make friends that you will have for the rest of your life. You may even meet your spouse there.
You may be a bit hesitant but now is the time to put yourself out there and have all of the experiences you can. You will never have this chance again.
How to Put Yourself Out There in College
You arrive still in that cocoon of high school and home. By the time you leave, if you play this right, you will have emerged as that monarch butterfly you should be – a self-confident, independent, career-ready adult with amazing relationships and contacts.
And here’s how you can do just that:
#1. Put Yourself Out There by Joining Clubs
“Future Accountants of America” may be fine if you are majoring in accounting. But, hey, you’re only going to meet people that are a lot like you. This is the time to meet people who are not like you.
Go a little crazy here. If you are an accounting student, maybe get involved in the campus radio station or student newspaper. If you are an IT student, join a political or “green” activist group.
There are seven types of student organizations on most college campuses. Join one that is totally out of your experiences from high school.
Get involved in your local clubs:
- Academic and Educational
- Community and Global Service (e.g., save the planet)
- Media and Publications
- Political and Multicultural
- Sports and Athletics (e.g. intramurals)
- Student Government
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The goal here is to broaden your experiences with the diverse population that most college campuses have. Not only will this prepare you for the diverse population you will meet in your adult world, but this is a great way of putting yourself out there to make friends you might have never considered.
Notice that sororities and fraternities are not on this list. Why? Because joining one of these, although maybe valuable, puts you in contact with others just like yourself. Remember, the goal is to mingle with diverse people and groups.
#2. Take Courses that Put You Out There
So, you are a Biology major. Most of your coursework, at least in the last two years, will be in this field. But you do have some elective choices. Think about this:
In the first two years, you will be taking a lot of general ed requirements. You will find some that spark some interest. Look into what else is offered in that area, and take an elective or two.
Plus some elective courses will look great on your resume. Most colleges offer elective courses in:
- Computer Science
- Foreign Language
- Graphic Design
#3. Get Social with Campus Housing
Nothing can be more diverse than student housing. Every socioeconomic and ethnic group will be represented in a dormitory. And every dorm has common areas where kids congregate. This is the perfect “incubator” for you to begin conversations that may later develop into relationships.
Go into those common areas at various times of the day and night. Begin a conversation with one or two others. If you have a fear of putting yourself out there, this may be a more relaxed and comfortable environment for you. You may like the same video games; you may both play ping pong; you may both be into fitness.
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If you have a special skill (computer repair, good writing skills, etc.), you may want to mention this to others. They will want to come to you when they are in need. Just another way as you work on how to put yourself out there.
Marie Fincher, Director of Content for Trust My Paper, recalls her story:
“When I landed in college, I was a nervous, somewhat shy person. But I had good writing skills and an extrovert for a roommate. Once I volunteered to help her with a research paper, she spread the word. Soon, others in my dorm were asking for help. From this one activity, I began to develop some friendships with lots of different types of people. Some of them are still my friends today. And, in my current position, I deal with international writers from all backgrounds. Those experiences in college prepared me for this.”
#4. Make Friends with a Social Life
The importance of social life in college can not be overstated. Those students who isolate themselves into their worlds of academic work do not emerge from college with anything more than a degree and lack of preparation for the real world.
Don’t be that isolated. Here’s how to be social in college:
- You can join a sorority or fraternity, and there will be no lack of social life – parties, working on community service projects, etc.
- You can be the one who suggests to a few others on your dorm floor that you go out for pizza and a beer. This is especially important during stressful times, such as studying for finals. Who doesn’t need a break?
- The organizations you join will all have social events. Don’t skip them.
- As your social group widens, take the initiative to plan social events – a road trip maybe, or group plans for spring break destinations.
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Lots of social activities and events are already planned for you. Your task is to participate in them. As you keep developing social relationships, you will get more comfortable taking initiative to plan them yourself.
#5. Take Small Social Steps in College
OK. So, you have never been the outgoing person that you wish you could be. You have some fear of putting yourself out there; you have not been an initiator. It’s time to get over that now.
You are not going to transform into an extrovert overnight. Trying to do this quickly will only make you more stressed and nervous, and you will fail.
Instead, try these things to take those small steps that will build your confidence:
- Start a conversation with someone who is sitting next to you in class. Discover common frustrations or challenges you have. This may lead to forming a study group.
- Go to the student union and force yourself to sit down with someone you don’t know. Introduce yourself and then start asking questions about that person. What are they majoring in? Where do they live? Showing an interest in others rather than just focusing on your own wants, needs, and struggles will let those others see you as someone who values their situation.
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- If you have a roommate, focus on his/her group of friends. See how you can insert yourself into that group too. If you get along with your roommate, this should not be a tough thing. You already have an “in” with his/her group of friends.
- Focus on some individual members of clubs or organizations you join. You don’t have to become a leader in this group. Start by making a few friends and grow from there.
And remember this. You have four years to make friends and develop lasting relationships. Take it slow and easy.
#6. Start Helping Others on Campus
One of the biggest mistakes that anxious college freshmen make is becoming self-absorbed. They cling to their problems and needs. Sometimes, this makes them spend their time staying connected with their old high school friends. And technology makes this really easy today. Don’t fall into this habit. It’s okay to stay connected, but too much of this will keep your “world” really narrow.
Get outside of yourself. If you have talents or skills, make them known. See how you can help others with their college struggles. If you are a math whiz and someone on your floor is really struggling, take the time to help them out. These are the beginnings of relationships that may develop into lifelong ones.
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And, as you help others, you will feel more comfortable asking them for help in return. Suppose you are that math whiz but cannot write. Maybe that person you are helping with Math is an English major with great writing skills. They may jump at the chance to help you back by editing your essays and papers. As you work together, you will form a bond that could last a lifetime.
#7. Go to Events on Campus
There are so many events open to students on campus. From guest lectures by famous academics and authors, open mic nights and trivia events to fundraisers and semi-formal events, there’s something to go to almost every day. Look around as you’re walking around campus, the walls are literally covered in upcoming event notices.
You don’t have to always go with a friend either, push yourself a bit outside of your comfort zone by flying solo. Speaking of flying, there are also trips and tours of your local city and abroad you can join.
Not to mention that you could also volunteer, join a college society or planning community, and give back to your community at large. If you’ve got an awesome idea for an event, take some initiative by speaking to your social coordinator about putting it together.
Why You Need to Put Yourself Out There in College
You want to enter the world of work and life well prepared. You may have acquired all of the skills and knowledge you need to enter that world of work, and you may land a great first job. And so, your career begins.
You will be far better prepared to greet that adult world of work, though, if you learned how to make real friends in college, did just that, and now have a large, diverse group of friends, colleagues, and contacts. You will also be able to relate to the diverse individuals within any organization you become a part of.
But, more important, you will be a “child” of the new global environment – one in which people from all cultures and ethnicities are now coming together in the workplace and in society as a whole. You will have an appreciation for those cultural values and norms and how they contribute to a global society. Good for you!
College is a One Time Chance
You will never be able to relive your college years. They are a special and unique period of time in your life. You may arrive in a cocoon from your high school years, but you now have the chance to break out of it and spread your wings into a much bigger world.
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Even if you have fear of putting yourself out there, follow these strategies, and make those college years really count.Do you need to start putting yourself out there? Need to make friends on campus? Click here for 7 ways to put yourself out there in college. #CollegeLife #StudentLife #SocialAnxietyClick To Tweet
How can you put yourself out there in college?
More About Guest Contributor
Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Kristin runs her own FlyWriting blog.
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