Column: An introvert’s guide to preparing for college

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Grace Ainger, Editorials Editor

College: a land of freedom from parents, discovering what the future has to offer and a new level of stress & anxiety. I have avoided thinking deeply about the college admissions process for two years now, in hopes that the hard decisions will make themselves. 

Although I still have over a year left of high school, avoiding thinking about college is no longer an option. With so many factors taken into consideration when choosing and applying for colleges, it’s already nerve racking enough. To make matters worse, for me, is the thought of attending college as an introvert. Will I be able to handle having a roommate? What if I don’t have enough alone time? How will I transition out of my comfort zone for extracurriculars? Despite all these daunting questions that are spinning in my head, I have found reasons to lessen my fear about taking the leap of faith that is college.

 

Dorms and Roommates

Moving from a bedroom all to yourself to a small space shared with a roommate is a huge adjustment for anyone. After a stressful day, having a space to myself is calming and allows me to reset for the next day. But at college, it looks as if I’ll never have that break. 

Schools do offer options to accommodate various living situations, most notably, single rooms. Living in a dorm room by yourself allows you to still experience the dorm life while accommodating your personal needs. Dorms are the easiest way to meet a wide range of new people at college and living by myself allows me to feel even more comfortable in a new environment. However, single rooms are more expensive than double rooms, making them somewhat less accessible. 

If a single room is not a realistic option, there are still ways to feel comfortable with living with a roommate. For one, social media has changed how you can connect with and ultimately choose your roommate before interacting with them in person. Students can introduce themselves and talk to potential roommates on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms. Getting to know your roommate and their living tendencies beforehand allows you to have peace of mind as to what you are getting into before move-in day. For example, if you need quiet study time past 8 p.m. or a mini fridge for your coffee addiction, make those needs known to your roommate right away. It’s much better for you and your roommate to understand each other’s needs before deciding to live together.

In the end, never be afraid to be upfront and honest about your personal needs. When I eventually move, I know what is most important for me to feel comfortable in a new environment. College can be stressful between academics and extracurricular activities, so it’s important to come home to somewhere you feel comfortable. 

 

Clubs and Activities

Similar to high school, colleges offer a wide variety of activities for students to be involved in. Contrary to high school, I don’t have an extroverted friend that I’ve known for years to tag along with to make me feel more comfortable while talking to people I don’t know. As much as I want to be involved in many clubs my future school has to offer, I don’t want to expose myself to unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Throughout high school, I discovered the activities and experiences that I truly love being a part of. But it was tricky to find my place, especially after years of following my friends and being afraid to put myself out there. When I transition to college, I need to learn to be confident in myself and my judgment. For example, I have no desire to rush a sorority because I know that the environment is not right for me. But Greek life is popular at most colleges and I’m going to struggle fighting through the peer pressure to rush. I need to focus on what I want to accomplish in my extracurriculars instead of following the crowd. I’m going to base my choice of extracurriculars on what I loved to do in high school to continue to pursue the passions that I enjoy. 

It’s also important to note you shouldn’t only follow your current passions in college. With all the opportunities college has to offer, keeping an open mind is essential to a good college experience, even if it seems scary at first, especially for an introvert. It’s hard to find a balance between setting limits and stepping a little out of your comfort zone. It never hurts to try something new and if it doesn’t work out, it’s okay to walk away. 

 

In the end, I still have fears about college and fitting into an environment that feels as if it was designed for the outgoing. But little by little, I’m finding ways to feel at peace and most importantly, excited about going to college.