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There are many gains to be obtained through attendance at university; a degree, wider knowledge of a beloved subject, independence, a career, and probably more important than anything else is the ability to interact with others. There are many ways in which attendance at university can enable you to develop a very broad set of social skills. It is also possible to pass though university and not pick up any new social skills depending on how you manage this process.

Here are some key techniques to ensure that you improve your ability to interact with others throughout your time at University:

The move from school to campus will invariably launch you into a much wider community. The numbers of people that are around you will take a staggering leap forward. This may be quite overwhelming to begin with. The first step in developing your people skills here starts at home, or at least in the place that you call home while on campus. You will get to know the people you are living with very well and it is important for your own sanity that you get along as best you can.

As cohabitation can sometimes be quite intense it is good practice to have a discussion with the people you are living with about the ground rules for the place you are sharing. You can draw up a charter outlining the rules regarding food, chores, and any other issues that could cause conflict. This will give you a basis for settling any arguments that might arise. It is also a good way of developing a set of people skills that you can use long after you have left university; negotiation and consensus.

The next step in broadening your social perspective will come via your lectures. This can be a daunting challenge, but actually provides a massive amount of opportunity for positive social interaction. The amphitheatres are vastly different from the classroom, often with hundreds of students in attendance. It is possible to feel quite anonymous and you can attend massive lectures and not meet or talk to another person. There is, however, the opportunity before, after, and during lectures to talk to the other students.

If you look around there will be plenty of other students like you. Kicking off a conversation is quite easy as the topic for the lecture is something you will all want to know more about. Take the opportunity at each of your lectures to discuss the subject with as many of your peers as you can. If you are nervous, or find it difficult to take the first step with someone new, try to look for members of your tutor group. This will be a much smaller group to which you are assigned and they should be attending the same lectures as you. Join in on one of their discussion groups and this will help you to develop a wider network of friends.

Another development opportunity in terms of learning new people skills is via your lecturers. They may seem aloof, or even hostile, but most lecturers welcome questions from students. Either on the floor as part of a lecture or afterwards, asking some questions from a lecturer is an excellent way of building up knowledge and developing a different set of people skills than you can with your peers. If you are nervous about this then approach your lecturer with some of the other students. It is useful to think carefully about the questions you will ask. The process will help build confidence and this skill will help you to talk to others in authority in the future.

There are a huge number of social interaction opportunities on campus and it is important that you make the most of your time at university and learn how to deal with other people as best you can.

This was written on behalf of OCVC.