Survival Guide for College Students who are Highly Intelligent but Socially Awkward

In every college campus, you will always be able find students and professors who are ‘geniuses’ in their own right but seem totally out-of-place in social situations. These people can dazzle best academicians and scientists in the world in academic conferences and offer you quick solutions to most complex problems in the world but when it comes to parties and social gatherings, they seem anxious and wary of the normal conversations happening around them.

This guide offers social life hacks for such high IQ people, and also helps others to understand them better.

How do Highly Intelligent People Think?


Geniuses are able to process things quickly. It means that by the time normal people’s brains hear and register a threat of any kind, their brain is already analyzing it, thinking about its potential sources and trying to find out whether it is a threat for them or others around them.

‘Is it a gun or a bomb? Is it an earthquake?”

This makes them seem ‘nervous’ to others.

The habit of analyzing everything makes them too self-aware. They are constantly worried about how others perceive them. They over-analyze routine events and daily conversations too and will always try to find a deeper meaning behind such occurrences. This often leads to two types of situations – first, in which they get too much caught in their train of thought and lose their place in the conversation; and second, in which they start trying and decipher the body language and non-verbal clues of the other person…and thus, develop a distrust in others if there is a mismatch between what they are saying and what their body language reveals.

Being able to read other’s body language and mood also makes highly intelligent people more empathetic. It becomes important to them that everybody they are close to – is relaxed and happy. Thus, they tend to take on the burdens and problems of their friends and get entangled in their issues. At once stage, they get so tired and burnt out because of trying to deal with everyone’s problems  that they start fearing attachments, bonding with others, and intimacy.

Moreover, they find it difficult to understand when people react to things emotionally – instead of logically. They find it frustrating when people don’t use logic in what they say and do. Others too may find them cold-hearted for offering logical solution in an straightforward manner to emotionally complex situations.

Being super-smart may be a desirable power but it does little good without social skills when it comes to things like making new friends, proposing to a potential girlfriend, or getting a new job.

4 Challenges Geniuses Face in Social Skills Development


  • Geniuses tend to obsess about information rather than skills. They are always on the look-out for researches or guides that can tell them exactly what to say or do in a particular event. Since each social situation is unique and requires a subjective approach, seeking objectivity becomes a misguided target for them.

Theory does not prove helpful in this case – until you practice it and interact with others.

  • For most people, conversations happen spontaneously. They say something, others respond to it…and then, conversation keeps moving ahead on one-step-at-a-time basis. Geniuses tend to over-plan everything. They would try to figure out the right topic to start a conversation, anticipate responses of the other person, and try to figure out what would be the correct way to respond back to them. This leads to unnecessary stress and they start fearing the conversation itself.

Let the conversation flow naturally. A general topic, such as weather or the biggest news of the day, can be a good icebreaker. Listening is as important as talking. Think of your response on the basis of other person’s answer.

  • An active imagination often mislead highly intelligent to imagine negative outcomes in social situations that have too many uncontrollable parameters. Outside the lab, it is difficult to keep things the way you want to. Social gatherings are unpredictable and this often makes research scholars and scientists uncomfortable.

Remember, reality is not as bad as you imagine. Mixing with your friends infuses new energy in you. Stop thinking and start enjoying each fresh moment as it comes.

  • Geniuses fall into the habit of winning and find it difficult to face problems where they ‘feel less’ compared to the average guy.

If you are too shy or feel socially awkard, face it or ask for help. Ignoring it will not help you develop social skills.

Top 5 Social Hacks for High IQ College Students


Best Places to Make New Friends in College

To have a great social life, you will have to meet new people and find a few friends. College campuses are just the place to find such lifelong pals. Best places in college to hook up with new friends are:


  • Dormitories or Hostels: Introduce yourself to your neighbors with a smile and try to keep your room door open when you are home. This will make you seem friendly and approachable.
  • Student Clubs: Join a club or sports team or local communities related to your interests to meet new people like you. It is easier to talk to someone who shares your passion and interest areas.
  • Study Groups: Private settings are most conducive to making new friends. When you study with your classmates, it will be easier for you to bond with them better.
  • Be Social: Accompany your classmates to popular college hangout areas like canteens and common areas now-and-then. Try to attend college events and programs occasionally too.

More you meet people, more chances you will have to befriend ones you like.

Be aware of the possibility that not everyone might be ready to hang out with you. Some people might already have too many friends and a very active social life while there might be others who just have no extra time because they have an upcoming thesis deadline or are about to get married or are trying to find a new job. There will be people who will be struggling with too much coursework and/or their part-time jobs.

If people who do not respond too well to your friendship requests, do not interpret this as ‘rejection’. Just keep an eye on people you like and see if they are active socially or not.

Learn to Kick-Start a New Friendship

Meeting new people does not automatically translate to making new friends. There is a formula to finding new friends:

If you have two or more things in common with someone, that ‘someone’ can be your potential friend.

You might have noticed that people from the same region or country who share a common interest quickly become friends. Similarly, if you love a particular café and you have a classmate who frequents it too, you both are likely to hit it off together.

Observe others and it will become easier for you to spot right kind of people you can hang out with.

Tips to Overcome Shyness

Shyness is something related to emotions and hence, is difficult to overcome. You should focus on acquiring Social Competence instead. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Go early to a social gathering or a party. It will help you get used to the surrounding and be comfortable by the time other people start pouring in. You may also offer the host to help out with party arrangements.
  • If you are not sure you are going to enjoy a party or not, accept the invitation. Many-a-times, we decline people’s invitations and regret it later. If someone invites you, you can accept the invitation but also inform the person that you might have to leave in between the party as a friend might call you for help. This will give you a chance to stay if you are comfortable or leave if you don’t like it.
  • Whenever you are afraid of expressing your opinion, use humor and humility. Offering ideas in lighter vein or with a polite smile (as if you are stating them as they occur to you) is less intimidating.

Easy Ways to Win Over Friends for Life

Use these techniques to make people interested in being your friend forever:

  1. Say ‘Yes’: It takes time and energy to build lifelong friends. When your friend calls, pick up. If you missed the call, call back. Respond to texts and messages. If they invite you, make time for them and go. If you are over-scheduled, let them know about it and chalk out alternative meet-up plans.
  2. Reach Out: A true friend does not keep an account of who called whom or who sent e-mails more often. They are just there for you. If you want to be a true friend to someone, be there for them. Call them or drop messages now and then, and you will see people eventually responding to your invitations.
  3. Buy Gifts: Some people refuse to accept gifts or give gifts to other people. Ellen J. Langer, a Harvard Psychology professor said, “That doesn’t do a service to the relationship. If I don’t let you give me a gift, then I’m not encouraging you to think about me and think about things I like. I am preventing you from experiencing the joy of engaging in all those activities.” According to the researchers, when you stop giving gifts, you lose out on important social cues. Cost of a gift does not matter as much as the thought you put into it. Everyone likes a thoughtful and a generous friend.
  4. Be a good Listener: People will like you better if you try to find more about them or their dreams and struggles, listen to them attentively or ask them for advice. Most people do not want you to fix their problems. They just want you to listen to them and help them find their own solutions.
  5. Open your Heart: In a professional life, it is a good thing to highlight your strengths and downplay your weaknesses. In a healthy friendship, it is better to be your true self. Don’t be afraid of exposing your vulnerabilities or sharing your true feelings with your friends. Be willing to open up and take your friendship to the next level.

F.O.R.M Formula for Small Talk


Last but not the least, learn the art of making small talk in any social situation. ‘FORM’ stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Money. These four things can be great conversation openers and help you discover common topics of interest quickly.


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