Do you talk through your theories in groups and relish every moment you have company?
Or do you prefer the peace and quiet on your own as you beaver away with your study?
Though it’s not always clear cut, there are two very different routes to learning that depend on how you like to work:
1. Extrovert – Traits include: Studying in public spaces; participating heavily in group work; engaging with fellow students and chewing over different views; starting projects with human involvement and interactive research.
2. Introvert – Traits include: Solitary reading; quiet study in library/dorm; reliance on own research and books; shys away from all non-obligatory group activity; attentive, but doesn’t necessarily relish being in the thick of the discussion.
They are clearly two pointedly different styles of learning. Only you as an individual can determine which method guides you along most effectively. Most people would identify one type as preferable.
Other than getting fiercely talkative/argumentative in seminars, I took a more introverted style and left the extrovert tendencies to social activity instead. There’s no right or wrong here. And as with myself, there can be a bit of crossover between styles.
But since I became a student, I encountered many people of one study preference who wanted to improve their grades by adopting the opposite techniques. Let’s say I meet an introverted student who wants to emulate the success of a friend who has been involved in some pretty intense study groups, as well as doing most studying in the kitchen, where all the other flatmates hang around.
The introverted student hasn’t ever been suited to that type of study, but wants to branch out as his friend has, for a chance at better grades.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
A lone worker cannot turn into a sociable studier overnight. They probably won’t make the change at all. An ‘All or Nothing’ approach is unlikely to bear any fruit.
Rather than attempt a move from introvert to extrovert (or vice versa), you’re better off having a good think about your current strengths and weaknesses and working them from within.
Unless you’ve been deluding yourself to the point of bordering schizophrenia, you probably work to a style that suits you already. So it’s not the way you focus your study that’s the problem. It’s more likely to be based on the specific techniques you employ within that focus.
Feel proud about your lot. If enthusiastic group work is your main way forward, make the most of whoever is available and savour those team sessions. Please take great care before ditching it all for a quiet life. It could be a big mistake if you flit from one area to another when you’re not that way inclined.
Consider these points:
- One person’s successful style doesn’t mean it will be a winner for you;
- You may love the extrovert study life, but you need to take it seriously, or face the danger of blurring the boundaries between social time and working time;
- The quieter life may suit you better, but be warned that too much time wrapped up in books can send your head spinning and actually lower your productivity;
- There’s no right or wrong in terms of how you focus your behaviours, so don’t panic that you should be any more introvert or extrovert to succeed. The key is in how you utilise your behaviours.
Finally, this is just as important for social life and relationships at uni. When Freshers first bundle into dorms across the country, there’s a tendency to bahave differently, especially along the lines of overdoing the extrovert act.
From first-hand sight of this, and from hearing many similar stories over the years, people are found out in the end and don’t need to use a different persona in the first place. The most important advice for anyone doing anything new to them (including starting university) is: