Social skills shouldn't be required to succeed in college

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utterly absurd
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12 Apr 2024, 9:18 pm

I know you need social skills in life, and at least basic stuff in school. But if I'm smart enough to learn everything it's not fair for me to fail just because I can't act neurotypical.
I need to interview someone for an assignment; they assume you have lots of friends and there must be someone you can interview. There's no accommodations or anything since this is a major part of the class and it's a required class and my diagnosis doesn't say I can't talk to people, it's just really hard. Now I have to ask someone I barely know if I can interview them and I'll be so awkward, I'm really stressed and anxious about it. They always assume you can do things and they're things I technically can do, but it's so much more stressful for me than for most people and it's so unfair. They talk about trying to be inclusive and accommodating but it's complete BS.


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12 Apr 2024, 9:31 pm

Isn't part of the assignment is to demonstrate those social skills?

Everyone will eventually get stressed by some aspect of a given assignment eventually, but they still have to complete them even if they'll be awkward, stressed and anxious about it. For some people it's their writing ability or numeracy, for you it's being able to find an interviewee and interact with them.

Maybe it feels stressful now, but that's how other people felt on other assignments you found relatively easy.


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utterly absurd
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12 Apr 2024, 9:50 pm

funeralxempire wrote:
Isn't part of the assignment is to demonstrate those social skills?

I don't think it is; it's an anthropology class so the "talking to people" is really just a means to learning about those people.
But yes, I understand everyone has something they struggle with. I just can't imagine anyone feels this kind of anxiety when, say, doing math. Confusion, but not anxiety.
I just wish I could email the person or something, but I don't have their contact information, I only see them in class.
It would be nice if social skills were taught in school, but instead they assume you have it already. I got all As in high school but no one told me randomly walking up to strangers was a requirement for college.


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funeralxempire
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12 Apr 2024, 10:44 pm

utterly absurd wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
Isn't part of the assignment is to demonstrate those social skills?

I don't think it is; it's an anthropology class so the "talking to people" is really just a means to learning about those people.
But yes, I understand everyone has something they struggle with. I just can't imagine anyone feels this kind of anxiety when, say, doing math. Confusion, but not anxiety.
I just wish I could email the person or something, but I don't have their contact information, I only see them in class.
It would be nice if social skills were taught in school, but instead they assume you have it already. I got all As in high school but no one told me randomly walking up to strangers was a requirement for college.


Anthropology often relies on interviewing people as part of one's research. As you say, talking to people serves as a means to learning about those people. Being good at talking to people in that context is a vital skill. It seems like they're seeking to normalize having to do it and build experience so that the next time you're expected to do it you're not just thrown to the wolves, so to speak.

Unfortunately they failed to account for some people reaching college without much experience talking to strangers, so it feels like being thrown to the wolves this time.

That said, it's a skill that one can learn and it's a part of the 'everything' that they're expecting you to learn. You might have a steeper curve than others and you might be starting further behind on it than others, but that doesn't mean it will overwhelming forever. In particular, the actual interviewing will become a fairly repeatable process.

I agree that it would be nice if some attempt was made to test and develop these skills earlier on in life rather than just assuming they'll develop adequately on their own.

For what it's worth my mom feels similar anxiety to yours if she has to (and even more so, had to) write anything. Her spelling isn't very good and it used to entirely shut her down, and this is in someone who otherwise doesn't demonstrate demand avoidance.

There's one upside to dealing with people you hardly know, you hardly need to care what they think of you afterwards. Besides, can't you pick someone you do know, like you assume others are doing?


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bee33
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12 Apr 2024, 10:51 pm

I agree with funeralxempire and I also understand how you feel. I would be horrified if I had to interview someone and I would also resent the assumption that I just have people at my disposal that I can ask to be an interviewee, and the assumption that it's no big deal to interview someone. I think probably for all of us on the spectrum we've gone our whole lives dealing with assumptions that we can easily do something that's actually monumentally hard. When I was little I didn't even have the words to explain why something was too hard and I would just cry. These days I mostly avoid things that I find hard, but even everyday things like seeing my friends and other people I like and want to see are still hard.



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12 Apr 2024, 11:02 pm

bee33 wrote:
I would be horrified if I had to interview someone and I would also resent the assumption that I just have people at my disposal that I can ask to be an interviewee, and the assumption that it's no big deal to interview someone.


I agree with that. I'd definitely find it a very easy demand to avoid and if it wasn't a major contributor to final results would be tempted to just never do it.

That said, dealing with the anxiety and cycles of demand avoidance would probably be harder than the task itself and completing the task is another means by which to end those problems.


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utterly absurd
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12 Apr 2024, 11:39 pm

funeralxempire wrote:
utterly absurd wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
Isn't part of the assignment is to demonstrate those social skills?

I don't think it is; it's an anthropology class so the "talking to people" is really just a means to learning about those people.
But yes, I understand everyone has something they struggle with. I just can't imagine anyone feels this kind of anxiety when, say, doing math. Confusion, but not anxiety.
I just wish I could email the person or something, but I don't have their contact information, I only see them in class.
It would be nice if social skills were taught in school, but instead they assume you have it already. I got all As in high school but no one told me randomly walking up to strangers was a requirement for college.


Anthropology often relies on interviewing people as part of one's research. As you say, talking to people serves as a means to learning about those people. Being good at talking to people in that context is a vital skill. It seems like they're seeking to normalize having to do it and build experience so that the next time you're expected to do it you're not just thrown to the wolves, so to speak.

Unfortunately they failed to account for some people reaching college without much experience talking to strangers, so it feels like being thrown to the wolves this time.

That said, it's a skill that one can learn and it's a part of the 'everything' that they're expecting you to learn. You might have a steeper curve than others and you might be starting further behind on it than others, but that doesn't mean it will overwhelming forever. In particular, the actual interviewing will become a fairly repeatable process.

I agree that it would be nice if some attempt was made to test and develop these skills earlier on in life rather than just assuming they'll develop adequately on their own.

For what it's worth my mom feels similar anxiety to yours if she has to (and even more so, had to) write anything. Her spelling isn't very good and it used to entirely shut her down, and this is in someone who otherwise doesn't demonstrate demand avoidance.

There's one upside to dealing with people you hardly know, you hardly need to care what they think of you afterwards. Besides, can't you pick someone you do know, like you assume others are doing?


This all makes sense. It's just frustrating because I'm not majoring in anthropology so I'll never need anything in this class again, but I still have to worry about it because it's a required class. And they assume things are easy for me when they're not.
I can't pick someone I know because I have to interview someone from another country, and I know very few people to begin with. But they assume you have lots of friends and if you don't, just ask some random person on the sidewalk.
Thanks for your responses, I know there's nothing I can do and it's probably a chance for me to improve my social skills, which I really need. I just wanted someone to understand how frustrating it is when people assume things are easy for everyone.


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IsabellaLinton
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12 Apr 2024, 11:44 pm

You make a good point about social skills.

Another consideration is that when you apply for scholarships or grad school they always want to know what clubs and activities you were part of. Even high schoolers are asked that when they apply to uni. Then when you finally graduate and apply for jobs, it's the first thing they want to know about. They don't even care about people's academic achievements, but somehow the fact you were vice-president of the Sock Folding Club turns them on.

I don't get it either.


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utterly absurd
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12 Apr 2024, 11:54 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
You make a good point about social skills.

Another consideration is that when you apply for scholarships or grad school they always want to know what clubs and activities you were part of. Even high schoolers are asked that when they apply to uni. Then when you finally graduate and apply for jobs, it's the first thing they want to know about. They don't even care about people's academic achievements, but somehow the fact you were president of the Sock Folding Club turns them on.

I don't get it either.

Yes, this is weird too. I guess it shows that you were involved in the community, but what if you were having too much trouble managing your own life to be involved in anything else? It's unfair, just like everything.


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14 Apr 2024, 2:43 am

When I graduated university in the late 80s, I set off on the round of corporate job interviews which is standard for fresh graduates in England.

Background: as a 'gifted' child I was pushed into an elite university which was completely the wrong place for me. After dropping out, I managed to get into another college to study a tech subject. I was much happier there, though social interactions were difficult for me, but I found alcohol 'worked' in that respect; in fact I spent most of those three years face down drunk at parties, did very little studying, and ended up with a 2:1 degree.

Anyway. One of these graduate interviews was for a non-people-facing tech job with a large insurance company which I won't name. A couple of weeks later I received a standard rejection letter, wishing me 'every success in the future', etc. while giving no details as to why I hadn't been selected. I decided to call the company and ask them.

(Yes, I find making phone calls difficult, but that was back in the days before email, and in any case while looking at my life in the process of being diagnosed autistic, I came to realise that I have fewer problems picking up a phone and calling someone when I have a bone to pick with them, and that isn't always a healthy thing to do.)

I got to speak to the manager who had interviewed me, and he told me, 'Well, James, the reason we chose not to proceed is that frankly your degree is too good. We prefer to take people with 2:2's, because to us it shows they haven't spent their time at university face down in books, but they've got involved and 'lived a little'.

I tried to persuade him that I was exactly the person he described, and that if I hadn't 'lived' so much, I should have got a First. He wasn't interested though. In hindsight I'm glad; that company was not for me.

So, yes, in my experience too, social skills shouldn't be required to succeed in college. For some definition of 'social skills'. And for some definition of 'success'.



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14 Apr 2024, 3:12 pm

I was rejected in my first professional job interview because they said the other people in the department wouldn't like me.

That was based on my vibe in the interview (likely nervous), rather than my credentials or experience.

jdflksjdfksj. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


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15 Apr 2024, 11:28 am

utterly absurd wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
Isn't part of the assignment is to demonstrate those social skills?

I don't think it is; it's an anthropology class so the "talking to people" is really just a means to learning about those people.
But yes, I understand everyone has something they struggle with. I just can't imagine anyone feels this kind of anxiety when, say, doing math. Confusion, but not anxiety.
I just wish I could email the person or something, but I don't have their contact information, I only see them in class.
It would be nice if social skills were taught in school, but instead they assume you have it already. I got all As in high school but no one told me randomly walking up to strangers was a requirement for college.


My advice would be to stop taking anthropology classes. They will do nothing for your job prospects, there are few if any jobs being an anthropologist, and you acknowledge you don't have the social skills to take the class. Stop wasting your tuition money.



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15 Apr 2024, 1:11 pm

I was the club representative for the Student Activities Council.
It disbursed a lot of money among the recognized student clubs as well as the band.
It was very useful to see how it functioned.



utterly absurd
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15 Apr 2024, 3:09 pm

rse92 wrote:
utterly absurd wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
Isn't part of the assignment is to demonstrate those social skills?

I don't think it is; it's an anthropology class so the "talking to people" is really just a means to learning about those people.
But yes, I understand everyone has something they struggle with. I just can't imagine anyone feels this kind of anxiety when, say, doing math. Confusion, but not anxiety.
I just wish I could email the person or something, but I don't have their contact information, I only see them in class.
It would be nice if social skills were taught in school, but instead they assume you have it already. I got all As in high school but no one told me randomly walking up to strangers was a requirement for college.


My advice would be to stop taking anthropology classes. They will do nothing for your job prospects, there are few if any jobs being an anthropologist, and you acknowledge you don't have the social skills to take the class. Stop wasting your tuition money.


I'd love to but unfortunately, it's a required class for any major.


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IsabellaLinton
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15 Apr 2024, 3:12 pm

I took Anthropology too. Worst / most difficult thing I ever studied. My class wasn't social but it was all about carbon-dating relics. The text was mindnumbing but also hard to understand.

It was required for my major, too. Most Humanities or Social Sciences require it. I might add that because of my major I had a fairly lucrative career and have now retired to bedlam, so I suppose it was worth it.


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15 Apr 2024, 8:16 pm

"should", "can", and "will" are all three different things

On the other hand, it is not possible to objectively measure "social skills"

Your social skills might be better or worse than what you feel they are

Some people are "confidence not proportional to competence". They are "smooth talking", but their social skills are worse than they act like they are