Many students choose to attend college away from home for the opportunity to study with great professors and peers, or to live in a new town and explore new opportunities for independence, but a big part of the college equation is social connectivity and social success.
Success in college comes in many forms, but one of the most important elements to keep in mind is the importance of social connections and building relationships. College is not just classes, homework, papers, and studying – it is also the opportunity to build and explore new friendships while maintaining old and important ones.
For students with autism, aspergers, or other challenges with social pragmatics and social cognition, the social element of college can be particularly challenging. Getting along with a roommate or suitemates, navigating the uncertainties of classrooms and cafeterias, unraveling the mysteries of the hidden social curriculum, and finding news ways to connect with others can be overwhelming – especially as students are also navigating the transition to more rigorous academic demands and are juggling the increased challenges of independent living.
For some students the desire to be socially connected can supersede critical study time, and even good judgement, as opportunities for socializing overtake important study time. All play and no work can make for a fun single semester – but not a very successful one, and can result in academic probation, or worse. Likewise, too much studying and students can become isolated and cut off from exposure to others who will expand their perspectives and enrich their experience. Finding the right balance is important.
On-campus clubs and organizations can provide a great way for students to connect with other like-minded peers. These can revolve around intramural sports, clubs for activism and involvement, or simply groups which gather as a result of their mutual appreciation for the arts, tabletop gaming, or other activities. Another great way for students to build social connections on campus is by joining, or forming, study groups. More and more college classes are actually requiring students to engage in group projects and activities, and study sessions and collaborative projects can help students build connections and learn new skills. Additionally, college towns are often active, lively, and engaging places to be – even beyond the boundaries of the university. Music venues, poetry slams, outdoor recreation, and community engagement opportunities provide students with chances to meet new people and further-expand their social networks.
While these social opportunities exist, and are important to a well-rounded college experience, it is important to realize that not every student has the confidence or skills to successfully identify, initiate, or sustain engagement in these opportunities. Making new connections can be difficult, social anxiety can be overwhelming, and lagging social pragmatic skills can result in even the most gregarious of extroverts stumbling over their own best intentions. College campuses often have some resources available to support student social engagement, and students are encouraged to access their resources in order to make the most of their social opportunities.
Mansfield Hall is committed to providing a safe, supportive, and ready-made social community for students in order to facilitate a soft landing in a social environment. A key focus of our living and learning communities is to help students crack the social code of college, and solve the critical equation of social success. Utilizing a holistic approach to college life means that students are able to explore, build, and maintain a wide range of social connections while still keeping the critical balance needed for both academic and interpersonal success in college.