Skip to main content
canadian university report

A young woman sits contemplatively on a chair.Stefan Witas/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Navigating a university campus can be a daunting task for any new student – and perhaps even more so for the more introverted.

Authors Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking) and Lisa Petrilli (The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership) have a message for new students to embrace all aspects of your character and realize it's okay if the university bar scene isn't your idea of fun on a Friday night. rather, they suggest finding what interests you, and perhaps even discover opportunities to stretch yourself, both academically and socially – which will make your campus experience better. If you imagine a map of a fictitious campus, here are suggestions for different areas where students, professors and administrators can think about ways to give introverted students a better university experience.


Introverts, by their very nature, tend to get very passionate about the one or two or three interests in their lives. And the great thing about university is the freedom, so you can pick the things that matter to you on that university campus and really develop your skills and build a network of like-minded people. (Susan Cain)


I would ask administrators to seriously consider rethinking any policy that looks to reward the quantity of student participation in class over the quality of student participation. Of course, class participation is important for developing the ability to clearly communicate one's ideas, which is a critical life skill. However, introverts are more likely to ponder on their ideas before sharing them than their extroverted counterparts. Yet, when an introvert speaks, everyone listens. (Lisa Petrilli)


The key is to make sure that the incoming orientation programs do not all depend on going out in big groups and large mixers, making sure that there are opportunities for new students to connect one-on-one with their peers. (SC)


For an introvert, how they use the dining hall strategically will change throughout the day. This is a great place to meet new people and foster friendships, but it can also be draining on introverts if they are sitting with large groups of people. If they are at the dining hall before or between classes, I would advise them to sit in very small groups and with people who don't tend to drain their energy. Dinner time is a great time to enjoy the dining hall in larger groups, knowing that you may need some quiet time afterward to recharge for evening studies. (LP)


The first week is probably the scariest, but in some ways it's also very easy and welcoming because everybody is in the same boat so everybody is new and eager to get to know each other, even if you're a quieter person. (SC)

The important thing for an introvert to remember is they get their energy from their inner world of thoughts, ideas, images, dreams, etc. They recharge in this inner world typically when they are alone or in small groups. So, introverts simply need to make sure they either work out a schedule with their roommate that allows them this time to recharge in their room, or find a place on campus that they are comfortable going to regularly that has the environment they need. (LP)


Choose the classes that are best for your major, have the professors you most want to learn from, and that you're passionate about. This will feed your inner world of ideas and thoughts and dreams more than anything else. Just be aware of scheduling: if you can give yourself time to recharge between classes, that's ideal. (LP)


There is going to be the moment where it's a Saturday night and you really want to stay home with your book and you could feel a lot of pressure to go out at the moment and I want to tell these students that the next time they feel this way to know that they are not alone. Half of the time you may go out because you feel you have to and the other half you may stay at home, but that's okay. (SC)

Interact with The Globe