Struggling Even Now
In eight months I have yet to form a single personal connection within my doctoral program.
My social anxiety is too high to attend gatherings. I keep thinking I'm going to attend an event, but I have only managed to attend a play -- nothing else outside of classes. I fear going to campus, much of the time. It takes a lot of energy to attend class. Sadly, I sit and shake in my classes, even though I don't hesitate to speak.
Classmates have called me "The Ghost" to my face. I'm an outsider.
The importance of connections cannot be overstated. You need to connect with classmates and with instructors.
I would tell any student that you need a mentor in a degree program. Without a mentor and a clear goal, you will struggle -- as I am doing now. A mentor helps you navigate everything from course selection to career objectives. I cannot praise the mentors from my past enough.
As a student, you need to work well with the others in your program. During school, these individuals can tell you about instructors and campus life. Your fellow students might become professional contacts, also.
In my case, I find I have neither form of connection at this moment. I have not socialized with a single student in my doctoral program. My colleagues don't know me and I don't really know them, beyond the facts I have overheard. I simply occupy a seat during courses.
Professors are lecturers, and I know they are to be respected. I wish I knew them a bit better, but I am too uncomfortable approaching them.
Clearly, I need to take action.