Chapter 9: The Social World of University


Figure 9.1
NicMcPhee – Four heads are better than one – CC BY-SA 2.0.



Where Are You Now?

Assess your present knowledge and attitudes.

Yes Unsure No
1. My interactions with students and others on campus will contribute to my academic success.
2. I feel I would like to make more or different friends in university.
3. I am sometimes shy about interacting with others in social settings or feel lonely when by myself.
4. I make an effort to communicate well in social interactions, especially to listen actively when others are speaking.
5. I use social networking Web sites to actively enhance social relationships.
6. When I get in an argument with someone, I work to calm the situation and try to reach a compromise solution we can both live with.
7. I am comfortable in situations interacting with people who are different from me in age, race, ethnicity, or cultural background.
8. I make an effort to meet and learn about others different from me and to accept and respect their differences.
9. When I see someone making a racist or sexist joke or comment, I speak out against prejudice.
11. I am participating in some clubs and activities on campus that interest me.

Where Do You Want to Go?

Think about how you answered the questions above. Be honest with yourself. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your university relationships and interactions with people from different backgrounds at this time?

Not very healthy Very strong
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

In the following list, circle the three most important areas of social interaction in which you think you can improve:

  • Variety of friends and relationships
  • Ability to interact comfortably with strangers
  • Speaking skills
  • Listening skills
  • Assertive communication skills
  • Online social networking use
  • Conflict resolution
  • Comfort level around people of different race or ethnicity
  • Interacting with people of different cultural backgrounds
  • Understanding of different cultural groups
  • Ability to speak out against prejudice
  • Knowledge of campus clubs and activities
  • Participation in campus groups

Are there other areas in which you can improve your social relationships and interactions with others to improve your university experience? Write down other things you feel you need to work on.




How to Get There

Here’s what we’ll work on in this chapter:

  • Understanding why social interaction is such an important part of the university experience
  • Developing new friendships on campus
  • Improving communication skills for social interactions at all levels
  • Knowing why and how to use online social networking
  • Balancing your schoolwork and social life
  • Resolving conflicts that may occur in social interactions
  • Knowing what to do if you experience harassment
  • Understanding the many kinds of diversity found on university campuses
  • Celebrating the benefits of diversity for all students
  • Dealing with prejudice and discrimination
  • Discovering the value of participating in organized campus groups and activities

Social Life, University Life

New university students may not immediately realize that they’ve entered a whole new world at university, including a world of other people possibly very different from those they have known before. This is a very important dimension of university—almost as important as the learning that goes on inside the classroom. How you deal with the social aspects and diversity of university world has a large impact on your academic success.

All the topics covered in this chapter relate to the social world of university. Here you will gain some insight into the value of making new friends and getting along with the wide variety of people you will encounter on campus. You will learn why and how a broad diversity of people enriches the university experience and better prepare you for the world after university.

Enter this new world with an open mind and you’ll gain many benefits. Even if you are taking a course or two at night and do not spend much of your day on campus, try to make the most of this experience. You’ll meet others who will challenge and stimulate you and broaden your thinking and emotional experiences.


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