College provides a great chance for students dying to escape their confining, drama-obsessed high schools. But some people forget that college can be a great deal more challenging. Sure, harder tests, excessive essays, and longer readings are expected, but intense classroom discussions and workshops come as more of a surprise.
Most of us enjoy staying within our own comfortable bubble, but now we’re going to have to pop it or someone else will. College starts to push you out of your comfort zone and test if you’re willing to overstep boundaries and limits. High school allowed us to stay within that bubble, college is the needle forcing us out. It’s a challenge we’re going to have to cope with.
Especially for introverts, classes present the tough situation of “putting yourself out there” when you really don’t want to. Introverts can no longer get by as they might have done in high school — taking good notes and listening intently. Now, they must work up the nerve to say something. This is a much easier concept in theory than in execution. Broadcasting your observations and questions to a classroom of strangers and an intimidating professor can be scary. Raising your hand or giving a cue that you want to speak is the first step. And that in itself can even be nerve-wracking. The fear of being judged or written off as irrelevant keeps your hand down. That fear has to be let go of if you’re going to get anywhere.
Intimidating professors only perpetuate students’ fears further. They aren’t the lackluster high school teachers who probably hated their jobs. Professors know what they’re doing (most of the time). You don’t want to appear unprepared or unintellectual.
Being constantly anxious with sweaty palms and a racing heart makes the college classroom experience stressful. It was easier to blend in during high school and fly under the radar when you usually weren’t being graded on speaking or participation. But in college, sometimes participating in discussions is 50 percent of your grade. If you don’t want to fail, you have to learn how to cope with the new academic environment.
It’s too easy to believe that all these other bright-eyed, intelligent students are your competition. You can convince yourself they deserve a place here and have something to say, and maybe they’re smarter than you, or know more than you.
Don’t think like that.
We all have different perspectives and different ways to contribute in class. We don’t need to be afraid of each other and what we’ll think in response. We should be excited to collaborate and learn from one another.
This same fear occurred in high school, but in college it’s on a whole other playing field. A lot of people in high school didn’t even want to be there, so sometimes you could write off their opinions. But most people in college actually want to be there.
The “scary” professors only want to see you succeed and your peers, deep down, are probably as nervous as you are. Your high school days are over, and there’s nothing but higher education ahead. But you made it here for a reason. Don’t let the new challenges keep you down. If you have already reached the conclusion that college is officially harder than high school, then you’re well on your way.