The Importance of Being Social in College
This is for all those determined students who have found their passion in life, and are going to college to build that career they’ve always wanted. You’ve decided you’re going to achieve academic and career success no matter the cost, and if that means putting your schooling above all else, enduring long nights, and losing touch with the people around you, then so be it. Don’t be too hasty, though. While that’s a great attitude to have, you shouldn’t neglect your social life.
It’s not slacking to block some time off to get to know your classmates. After all, another opportunity that comes with college is the people you’ll meet, and it’s important that you don’t neglect that aspect. It’s not just a friendly recommendation, or a stress-buster. It will help you in your future career. Facebook doesn’t count. You need to set some time aside from your busy schedule and develop a real-life social network. Here’s why:
1) Being antisocial can harm your intellectual development
This BBC article talks about a study on the impact of antisocial shift work on the human mind, and it’s not pretty. When you’re in isolation, and when you work long hours, you lose “memory, speed of thought and wider cognitive ability,” and make “more mistakes and slip-ups.” Late nights? Working in isolation? Sounds like a student trying to get his final project in, or cram for an exam. Doing poorly at a job is bad enough, but when you’re in college, you need memory and cognitive ability to learn important life skills.
The good news is that your brain can and will recover, even if it takes time. So, make some time in your schedule to hang around with some classmates, and watch your grades improve. There’s more to that last bit than simple mental health, though.
2) It makes studying easier
No one is intellectually flawless, and you can always benefit from someone else’s perspective when it comes to your academics. This is a personal bit of experience, but I found during my post-secondary education that the best way to study for an exam was to explain what you were learning to someone else. Teaching others solidifies your own knowledge, and it’s a two-way exchange. Even if you think you know what to study, and know the course materials like the back of your hand, someone else’s point of view can teach you things you don’t know. This social exchange will continue to benefit you after your education is complete, too.
3) It will help you when it comes time to get that job
Towards the end of school, you’ll be formally entering the working world, be it for a placement or for a career. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, or what field you’re in, you’re going to have to do at least a few interviews in your life. Take a look at this story about an infamous job interview question from Career FAQs, “how would friends describe you?” It’s hard to describe yourself, and relying on outside opinions is a better way to figure out how you genuinely appear to other people. Even if it’s not answering that question specifically, that friend-provided definition of yourself can be an important aspect of branding yourself, which you’ll need to be doing.
There’s more to consider, though. Applying online is no longer the only way, or even the best way to get hired. A professional network is perhaps even more essential. This network will be comprised of teachers, friends, and industry professionals who may, one day, link you up with a dream career. You need to know how to maintain those friendships, and that’s a skill. In fact, that’s my next point.
4) Like everything else in college, it’s a skill that needs developing
Going back to that job interview I mentioned above, there’s something more to it, something that you’re going to need in life beyond that interview: Social skills. Whether it’s getting the job, building your network, or just interacting with customers, knowing how to interact with the people around you is an important element to success. Here’s a guide about how to talk to strangers from WikiHow, and one thing it stresses is that practice makes perfect.
In college, you’re there to practice and learn skills, be it writing, media, cooking, chemistry, or science. Socialization is just another skill, a universal ability that everyone should look into to developing. College is the perfect time to develop that skill, since you’re in a new environment, with a new group of people, and you all have one obvious thing in common: Your choice in career paths.
Don’t get the wrong idea: Your academics are still a very important aspect of your future, and your career. But getting out of your study space and interacting with your fellow students is equally important, and your social life shouldn’t fall by the wayside. Don’t treat it as slacking, or procrastinating. Instead, think of it as an equally important investment in your future career.
By Anthony Geremia