How To Excel In School As An Introvert: Part One

After a long day at school, is all you want a quiet place for yourself? As a child, did you prefer reading over strolling around with the other kids? Do you prefer listening over talking? If you answered yes to most of my questions, then you, my dear, might be an introvert.

First of all, introversion is neither a disease nor a deficiency – it is just a way how your mind recharges from exhausting tasks. In today’s society, however, “introversion” is often set equal to negative labels, such as “shyness” or “loneliness”. These stereotypes are run especially rampant in business schools, which require a lot of group work, presentations, and competing in pitches. As an introverted business student myself, I also struggled with this – sometimes, all I wanted was to hide behind my books, write exams, and not talk to anyone. Unfortunately, this will not lead to the best results, since it hides your talents and just ties you to your comfort zones. Therefore, in the following, I will give you some valuable tips how you can make your introverted side shine without denying this part of your personality. Trust me, if you begin to incorporate these tips, you will instantly receive amazing feedback!

Step 1: Recognize that you ARE an introverted personality

First and foremost, you will never feel comfortable if you do not acknowledge your personality as it is. About 50% of all people can be labelled as “introverts” according to their behavior and preferences. However, what often feels like a “black or white” decision is rather a continuum. Thus, you might behave as in introvert most of the time, but also show signs of extraversion here and there. In the end, realizing where you fall on this continuum will help you to develop more self-esteem, since you may not consider yourself as “deficient” anymore. If you are unsure about where you fall on the introversion / extraversion scale, try out one of the numerous free tests on the internet (e.g., this one here).

excel in school as an introvert

Step 2: Appreciate your introverted self

After recognizing that you behave and think as an introvert most of the time, it is time to step up your game: Appreciate and love yourself for this trait! I know, this can be hard, especially when you are surrounded with people who seem to love the stage, vividly connect and talk to fellow students, and easily gain exposure to professors and companies. However, do not devalue yourself just because this behavior does not come to you naturally. Introversion is connected to several advantages compared to extraversion, which you just have to deploy strategically:

  • Firstly, introverts often excel at analytical tasks. Due to their natural tendency to observe and process what is happening in their environment, they collect a rich knowledge base and toolbox to assess and solve problems. Thus, in group works, volunteer for the analytical parts – after showing your amazing results, people will gain respect and also consult you at later points in time.
  • Secondly, introverts are good listeners. Use this to your advantage at networking events, group discussion, or recruiting fairs. In any instance, it helps to prepare some questions upfront, so as to get into the conversation. Then, actively listen to your counterpart: show compassion, nod where you agree, and ask questions based on your counterpart’s statements. You will be surprised how often people fail to really listen to the things others say.
  • Thirdly, introverts can also be great leaders. Their tendency to observe and reflect other people’s behavior makes them very sensitive to the unique capabilities that everyone in the group may bring to the table. Therefore, in your next group project, just lay you’re your initial thoughts you had while thinking about the problem and who could tackle which part. As soon as this is “out”, most likely, the others will follow your approach, since it is well structured and thought-through.

Still don’t believe me? Then I highly recommend Susan Cain’s TED Talk “The Power of Introverts”, where she also highlights the great potentials of introverts in a very capturing manner.

excel in school as an introvert

Step 3: Identify which situations require a more extroverted behavior

Just because you happen to fall on the introverted side of the continuum does not mean you aren’t able to excel in situations that require more extroverted behavior. In business schools, for instance, these are situations where you typically have to perform some kind of presentation or engage in networking activities. Those situations feel uncomfortable because introverted personalities need to invest efforts to perform these tasks, while extroverts naturally gain energy from connecting and interacting with people. Identify selected events or situations that are important for your success in school and where you need to engage in a more extroverted behavior.

And then? Incorporate some of my tips how to excel in these kind of situations – next week, here on!

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Pia is a 25-year old graduate business student and aviation professional from Germany, currently studying as an exchange student at the University of Chicago Booth Business School. Before that, she attained an undergraduate degree in Aviation Management at EBS University in Oestrich-Winkel. As an airline employee, she loves traveling around, even though flying as standby passenger is often an adventure itself. Especially after spending 54 hours at LAX airport, waiting for a flight to get on, you can ask her about any hacks how to survive in transit. During her travels, she captures the beauty of her surroundings with her beloved camera and shares them on her Instagram channel. At home in Frankfurt, you will mostly find her spending her leisure time with yoga, TRX training, or a good night out with friends.


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