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Social Awkwardness in College: Issues Involving Non-Traditional Students

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Michael Collins

Public Speaking

Prof. Ray Eaton

2 April 2017

Social Awkwardness in College: Issues Involving Non-Traditional Students

        How do you fit into a place where you feel you deserve to be, yet you also feel that you appear different from everyone else? That is the question I ask myself a lot. I began taking classes in Information Technology at Union this semester, but I already have my Associates Degree from Jackson State. I am a Non-Traditional Student, which simply means I am not fresh out of high school like most of the average college students on campus. Being a Non-Traditional Student adds another layer of un-comfortability to my interactions with others, along with my already socially anxious, introverted nature, and there are some big differences in my life versus other students, such as responsibilities outside college and additional experiences to help inform me on my path to reaching my goals. Other than that, I feel like I am the same as anyone else.

        By default, I tend to be shy in a new environment around people I have never met and allow my anxieties to take over. I don’t really intend to be standoffish or antisocial, because I actually enjoy having a close group of friends to talk and interact with. Once I feel more comfortable with someone, I am more open and willing to show the other side of my personality where I can be a funny, sarcastic, loyal, and deeply caring friend. As a Non-Traditional Student, many times I am afraid I won’t relate to college students who recently graduated from high school, even though I know that I still have a lot of the same music and entertainment interests. This added pressure further complicates my ability to reach out and make connections with others.

        My level of responsibility beyond my college course load is higher than most college students. The average college student here at Union lives in the dorms, and there are some who still live at home with their parents. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging, just stating a fact. But, these students do not have to worry about paying for their rent, utilities, or even food for the most part and may have the choice of whether to work or not. There are other students who may live off-campus with roommates and may be able to better understand my point of view. I live off-campus in an apartment, so I have to ensure my rent is paid by the first week of every month, my utilities are paid by the middle of every month, and that I have enough food for my brother and I each month. This involves me working, at least part time, while attending college, and all of these added burdens increases my stress level on top of completing my next set of assignments and studying for a test or exam. It is not always easy to focus when in the back of your mind you are thinking about how your hours have been reduced, your next couple of checks are going to be barely worth the ink and paper used to print them, and you are not completely sure how you are going to be able to make ends meet.

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