Making Connections in Class: Tips for Shy and Commuter Students

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In summary, people find it easiest to start working together when they first meet in person. Find out who is likely to be studying or working on homework together and join in. Attend meet and greets and social events to make connections.
  • #1
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I am a commuter, transfer, older, and somewhat shy to boot. However, even my professors recommend working together on the problem sets they give out because they scale the difficulty towards working in groups.

So how I do start talking to some people? They all seem to know each other and have established groups and I'm worried that I just generally look kind of unfriendly so I don't think people will start talking to me randomly. Any tips?
 
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  • #2
Talk to the guy who sits next to you? "Hi, did you get problem 5 on the HW, I was having so much trouble with it" or "Hey, can I see your notes, I think I missed that bit of the lecture", just something to get the ball rolling.

Also, find out what clubs are available for your major and join one of them-you may very well find classmates in the club or at the least people in your major (who may also be able to help you out).
 
  • #3
Well, I first met people in my dorm then discovered who I already knew in my classes. That worked really well for the classes that I shared with my friends. Quite honestly, after we got our study group going, it would have been a little adjustment adding another person, but if he/she were serious about it, it would have been fine.

For the classes in which I went in knowing no one, I basically just asked the people on on either side of me if they wanted to do the first night's homework together. We met about once a week during the semester, as opposed to the 3+ times a week with my friends. Don't wait for someone to ask you to join their group...ask someone(s) to join yours!

It may seem that everyone knows everyone else, but that's pretty unlikely. If you recognize anyone from your lab or last semester, try talking to them. Most people are pretty open about doing homework together as long as you all contribute.
 
  • #4
I had a similar problem my freshman year. I was afraid of approaching people.

I found out pretty quick though that its actually pretty easy and not scary at all. You're over thinking it. Just talk to people. There's no secret or anything else we can tell you. Just simply talk to people.
 
  • #5
I'm a transfer student, so I ran into a similar problem. I overcame it by participating in group study. I'm pretty shy socially, but talking about classwork breaks down those barriers for me.

Find out if some people in your classes work on homework problems or study for exams together and join in.
 
  • #6
I understand getting into an existing group can be tough, but I would bet not *everybody* is already in a group. Try to sit near someone who seems shy or quiet (perhaps they're less likely to be already in a group) and start asking questions about homework problems.
 
  • #7
By September of my third year, two of the women in my classes came up to me and a friend and one of them said: "____ and I have determined we need your phone numbers." Maybe it's easier to get away with something like that when you're a woman, but I don't think anyone would be offended if you simply approached and asked if you could join their study group.

In general, most of the friends I ended up meeting and working with I met in the labs.

People in the year ahead of me seemed to cluster within the physics club. That was a good place to get lots of information, help, or generally rant about aspects of the program that demanded the occasional rant.

Departments will also often hold meet&greet icebreaker type functions. It's a good idea to attend these, because not only can you socialize with other students, but you can rub shoulders with your professors, learn about their careers and even pick up hints on who will have research projects available in the coming months.
 
  • #8
If people from the class tend to study/hang out in a certain place, then that place is the perfect place to ask.

If the class has a forum, it's VERY easy to find a study group that way. Although few classes have forums right now.
 
  • #9
Do you notice anyone else in your class that might be from the same demographic? I'm just remembering from some recent classes I taught: both of which had two returning students... I think in both cases one had a family, one didn't... but they still shifted together -- working on homework together in one class (E&M for engineers) and working on in-class group-based activities in the other (a conceptual "How Things Work" gen-ed class). Of course this depends a bit on class size and the type of university (large state university versus liberal education/private)...
 
  • #10
There's been a lot of good suggestions, but I feel I can give a different point of view. I've always been shy but I can be very social around the right people. So, my goal is to find the type of people I will be social with and talk to them.

I used to have trouble talking to people, until I figured out that I don't have to be the one that starts the conversation. So, after I would find people that I think I would compatible with I sit close to them the next class and break out some homework before class begins. If that other person is more social initially than me they will usually start the conversation. If they're less social than me, then I'll initiate the conversation.

Good luck.
 
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  • #11
physics girl phd said:
Do you notice anyone else in your class that might be from the same demographic? I'm just remembering from some recent classes I taught: both of which had two returning students... I think in both cases one had a family, one didn't... but they still shifted together -- working on homework together in one class (E&M for engineers) and working on in-class group-based activities in the other (a conceptual "How Things Work" gen-ed class). Of course this depends a bit on class size and the type of university (large state university versus liberal education/private)...

How does the story of one kid with a family and one without help the OP? or the advice to seek out someone of the same demographic, which sounds like something a bigot would say...

My advice is to start talking to them randomly about homework and stuff...if they look at you like you are the unabomber, assure them you are not the unabomber, then continue to discuss classwork.

plus I'm curious as to why you think you look unfriendly?
 
  • #12
^what he said. Just talk to a random person (e.g. the one sitting next to you) about the homework or lecture, and he/she will probably say something back.
 
  • #13
daveyinaz said:
How does the story of one kid with a family and one without help the OP? or the advice to seek out someone of the same demographic, which sounds like something a bigot would say...

My advice is to start talking to them randomly about homework and stuff...if they look at you like you are the unabomber, assure them you are not the unabomber, then continue to discuss classwork.

plus I'm curious as to why you think you look unfriendly?

To be honest I would seek out my own demographic if possible(age-wise) but everyone looks 20ish to me. Granted I'm only 25 but I think it still factor in during socialization.

I don't - I just find people generally shy away from talking to me. For instance I was sitting near some kid who was asking people all around him about homework, his eyes come to me and we share this short awkward glance, without him saying a word and he moves on to the next person entirely ignoring me. This seems to happen a lot to me, I just look unfriendly I guess..
 
  • #14
Oh wow, I didn't realize that since you're an older student, some students (most particularly females who are working by themselves, who are often otherwise the types most receptive to studying together with younger people) might be creeped out if you approach them to do homework with them. And that's really quite unfortunate.

Yeah, I don't know. If the class has a TA, maybe you could ask the TA to give you permission to ask the class if anyone else wants to form a study group with you.
 
  • #15
daveyinaz said:
How does the story of one kid with a family and one without help the OP? or the advice to seek out someone of the same demographic, which sounds like something a bigot would say...

Ouch. I don't see a problem with what physics girl phd said at all. In college, 5 years in age can make a world of difference in priorities and outlooks. Most of the kids in my classes that are 18-20 are looking where to party this weekend rather than getting into a study group on Saturday morning. Instead of name calling, why don't you take a closer look at the situation.
 
  • #16
In only 2 of my classes did other students want to do the HW with me. Whenever I asked others, they never wanted to join. Other than those 2 classes, no one else asked me to join them. Then again, in my upper-div math classes, it seemed like most people didn't even know each other since hardly anyone talked at all
 
  • #17
Simfish said:
Oh wow, I didn't realize that since you're an older student, some students (most particularly females who are working by themselves, who are often otherwise the types most receptive to studying together with younger people) might be creeped out if you approach them to do homework with them. And that's really quite unfortunate.

Yeah, I don't know. If the class has a TA, maybe you could ask the TA to give you permission to ask the class if anyone else wants to form a study group with you.

How old is "older?" I'm 28, and I haven't run into any such problems.
 
  • #18
Maybe you should look at this...

 
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  • #19
DrummingAtom said:
Ouch. I don't see a problem with what physics girl phd said at all. In college, 5 years in age can make a world of difference in priorities and outlooks. Most of the kids in my classes that are 18-20 are looking where to party this weekend rather than getting into a study group on Saturday morning. Instead of name calling, why don't you take a closer look at the situation.

Of course you don't see a problem with what she said, you're probably one of those people who treats women and people differently based on appearances or gender. The point is seeking out one's own demographic based on whatever criterion is just a step towards prejudice in my view. If you are limiting yourself to talking to only people who are within 5 years of you because you feel more than 5 years is too much of a "big" gap in age difference, then you are limiting yourself to knowing what could be some very good people.
 
  • #20
just say hello to them!
 
  • #21
daveyinaz said:
Of course you don't see a problem with what she said, you're probably one of those people who treats women and people differently based on appearances or gender. The point is seeking out one's own demographic based on whatever criterion is just a step towards prejudice in my view. If you are limiting yourself to talking to only people who are within 5 years of you because you feel more than 5 years is too much of a "big" gap in age difference, then you are limiting yourself to knowing what could be some very good people.

I'm amazed that you gathered that opinion of me from what I said earlier. Sorry bud, but you're flat out *wrong* on that call. It's obvious you're trolling here. I'm going to drop this argument now before you offend anymore people. Have a great day.
 
  • #22
daveyinaz said:
Of course you don't see a problem with what she said, you're probably one of those people who treats women and people differently based on appearances or gender. The point is seeking out one's own demographic based on whatever criterion is just a step towards prejudice in my view. If you are limiting yourself to talking to only people who are within 5 years of you because you feel more than 5 years is too much of a "big" gap in age difference, then you are limiting yourself to knowing what could be some very good people.

lol wow, you honestly feel the need to dictate who people choose to spend their time around?

Offer advice, but don't attempt to dictate who he should or shouldn't be friends with.

I am pretty selective in my choice of friends, it is my choice to make and it is what I like. If you personally dislike my(or anyone elses) choice, that is fine but it is not yours to make or criticize.
 
  • #23
What has always worked for me is to relax and go about having a quiet confidence in myself in how I approach social interaction. You’ll find out that a lot of science students/people in general tend not to be social butterflies and are actually the opposite, so the fact that you want to join a study group and/or meet people in your class already puts you ahead of the curve.

Just let it come to you and you should be ok.
 
  • #24
Skrew said:
lol wow, you honestly feel the need to dictate who people choose to spend their time around?

Offer advice, but don't attempt to dictate who he should or shouldn't be friends with.

I am pretty selective in my choice of friends, it is my choice to make and it is what I like. If you personally dislike my(or anyone elses) choice, that is fine but it is not yours to make or criticize.

Do you understand the word 'dictate'? Obviously not...to help you understand I'll ask you to point out where I made a command or try to strong hand OP into doing something he's not comfortable with...which would probably be a very hard thing to do as he has a mind of his own and can choose to do as he sees fit..

...instead what you'll see is that I offered an opinion about limiting one's group based on age, ethnicity, etc. I also think it's humorous that you mention being friends, when I was working under the impression that the problem here was approaching people to start a study group as opposed to maintaining some kind of personal relationship with them.

In any case, I don't understand why you should be getting bent out of shape, up until now you've had absolutely no part in this thread and nothing I've said thus far has seemingly nothing to do with you or your selective choices of friendships.
 
  • #25
I'm sorry, but wtf is looking unfriendly? Is it in your hair? Your nose? Your lips? Where does the unfriendly in you lie? Can girls look "unfriendly" or just guys?

You mentioned a student asking a HW question and you exchanged awkward glances...did you try to do the homework? because, even if you failed, you'd have something to say to him! Be engaged in the material... students love the student who goes around showing he cares about understanding the material even if the student doesn't know much. Show that you care. Interact. A LOT. Be...socially active. Look, you posted here, look how many replies you got! We feel for you. Be as sincere as you are with us with them. You're all in this together.
 
  • #26
Dory said:
I'm sorry, but wtf is looking unfriendly? Is it in your hair? Your nose? Your lips? Where does the unfriendly in you lie? Can girls look "unfriendly" or just guys?

You mentioned a student asking a HW question and you exchanged awkward glances...did you try to do the homework? because, even if you failed, you'd have something to say to him! Be engaged in the material... students love the student who goes around showing he cares about understanding the material even if the student doesn't know much. Show that you care. Interact. A LOT. Be...socially active. Look, you posted here, look how many replies you got! We feel for you. Be as sincere as you are with us with them. You're all in this together.

I did do the HW but it wasn't like the guy wanted to talk to me about it. I saw it more as he wanted someone to talk me and was sizing me up and apparently I didn't past muster.
 
  • #27
Sizing you up? Were you about to go in a boxing match? :P
He was waiting probably for you to say whether you did them, it normally doesn't take longer than 4 miliseconds to say yes or no so if you were unresponsive he assumed no.

I suggest you be the one to ask the HW questions! Or compare. Or just talk about how you feel about the material with other students...great conversation starter. In my class...students rant all the time how they "don't get this ****"... it may sound like a nasty thing to say, but that phrase will either gather support or help, so it's a win-win. Saying nothing will get nothing.

Remember that all the students are engaged in the material..once you start going around, once people will learn a thing or two about you and what you know and how much do you care to know...you wouldn't worry about study groups so much...
 

1. How can I make friends in class?

One way to make friends in class is to introduce yourself to others and strike up conversations with them. You can also join study groups or clubs related to your class to meet people with similar interests.

2. Is it okay to ask someone out on a date in class?

It is generally not recommended to ask someone out on a date in class, as it may make them feel uncomfortable or put pressure on them in a public setting. It is best to get to know the person and ask them out in a more casual and private setting.

3. How can I build relationships with my classmates?

Building relationships with your classmates can be done by actively participating in class discussions, offering to study or work on assignments together, and showing genuine interest in getting to know them outside of class.

4. What are some good icebreaker activities to use in class?

Icebreaker activities such as sharing interesting facts about yourself, playing a game, or doing a group project can help break the ice and facilitate conversation among classmates.

5. How can I overcome social anxiety and meet people in class?

If you struggle with social anxiety, it may be helpful to start by setting small goals for yourself, such as introducing yourself to one new person in every class. Taking deep breaths, reminding yourself of your strengths, and practicing positive self-talk can also help alleviate anxiety in social situations.

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