Academics aren’t the only reason you’re at college. Your social health is another aspect of college life in addition to your studies. Student success, as well as career success, depends on learning how to socialize and how to be a responsible member of a group. Here are some tips for college students who want to get the most out of socializing in college.
A chance to socialize in many different groups
College is usually the first time young people are on their own without parents’ guidance or rules. Students learn to participate as a responsible member of various groups within the college environment: fellow students, roommates, teachers, college staff, sports teammates, religious groups, study groups, romantic partners or extracurricular clubs. You’ll also learn how to grow your sense of self identity.
“Socialization is a process of learning what it means to be a member of a group and navigating one’s sense of self as part of that process. Because there are many different groups on a college campus, socialization might include finding like-minded peers on campus to differentiate one’s self from others and develop closer bonds with some group members (as in fraternities and sororities),” explained Karen Sternheimer, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern California, in “Becoming a College Student: A Study in Socialization,” posted on Everyday Sociology September 5, 2011.
Whom to socialize with…. everyone!
According to Ben, author of “7 People You Should Socialize With At College,” posted on College Survival Handbook October 7, 2010, nearly anyone is great to socialize with. Here are a few of his suggestions:
- The Jock – hang out with them to learn healthy living techniques and score some free game tickets
- The Foreigner – shake up your comfort zone and learn new ways of doing and seeing things
- The Nerd – cozy up to the smart kid and learn some fab studying tips
- The Advisor – seek their advice and survival tips, because they know what lies ahead—they’ve been there
- The Professor – talk to your professors, every day. They really do want the best for you academically.
Tips for socializing
- Get out there and get involved. Meet people—join a club, join the gym, volunteer, go to a party, get an on-campus job, join a church, act in a play or join a debate or foreign language club.
- Live in the dorm rather than off-campus housing or at home. You’ll get to experience college social life outside of academics.
- Smile. Just looking like you’re interested in other people and projecting a confident demeanor make you open to new friendships and new experiences. People will be drawn to you.
- Other tips: Say hello! Make eye contact, lighten up (laugh!), pay attention to your hygiene, be a good listener, introduce yourself, don’t be defensive and put a positive light on things. Talk to people in different ethnic, racial, religious and age groups and people in different fields of study than you.
Benefits of socializing
- Learning to handle yourself in social situations gives you problem-solving skills, the ability to compromise and work together and the chance to make responsible choices.
- If you know how to socialize, it will be easier in your career to talk to different types of people, share information and close business deals.
- Keeping a list of social contacts helps you network with peers and colleagues, learn about advances in your field of study and give you friends you can rely on.
Don’t overdo the socializing
Too much of a good thing is sometimes bad. “Recent publications have said this generation’s college students prioritize socializing over studying in the academic spectrum—spending 75 percent of their time sleeping or socializing and only 16 percent in class or studying. Students spend their remaining time eating and participating in extracurricular activities, the study reported,” wrote Chinmayi Sharma in “College students focus on socializing over studying, report says,” posted on Duke Chronicle January 26, 2011. Getting along with others is an important skill, but not at the expense of learning and studying. The primary purpose of college—that very expensive college you’re attending—is to get an education.
How much of a role in your college life does socializing play? Do you think it’s too much?