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Ask Abi: Participating While Introverted

Abi Hilden, staff writer

Dear Abi,

I’m an introvert. I have a really hard time participating in class and my grades are suffering. Do you have any advice on how to make up participation points when you’re terrible at participating?

Sincerely,

Passive Participant

Dear Passive Participant,

Oh boy do I know your struggle! As a major introvert myself, I too have always had anxiety about in class participation. The thought of having to raise my hand and talk in front of the class is nightmare fuel. But, do not fret! I am a pro at participating even when you don’t want to.

The best way to make participating easier is to genuinely pay attention and come to class prepared. I know, some classes this may seem impossible for (like when you’re a Theater major taking Physics), but this is the easiest way for participation to happen easily. When you pay attention and do the work, you’re more likely to actually have things to contribute to the conversation. You’ll also most likely actually know the answers to the questions your professors may be asking or even have questions of your own that you can ask.

Another thing that makes class participation easier for me is to sit near the front of the classroom. While at the front, there is less room for distractions, like going on your phone, that help you avoid making eye contact with your professor. You’ll be more engaged in the content and like I said above, have more to contribute. 

As for the participation points themselves, the best way to make those up is to make sure that you participate at least once or twice every class. No professor is going to be asking every student to talk a ton every class, they just want to make sure that you are engaging in the content and present while in class.

When all else fails, fake it til you make it. Most students in every class are nervous to participate. Pretty much everyone you meet will never want to raise their hand because it’s a pretty scary thing to stand your ground and voice an opinion in front of 10-15 of your peers. There is also the fear of getting an answer wrong and the possible ridicule that could come with it. Almost everyone has these thoughts, so just know you are not alone in your fear of participating. Nobody is going to judge you super harshly because they are all feeling the same way.

At the end of the day, just go for it! I believe in your ability to participate to your fullest extent. Don’t stress too much though, participation grades are never worth that much in the long run.

I hope this advice helped and that your grades improve with your newfound participation confidence. You got this!

Warmly,

Abi