The word “introvert” has a lot of connotations and can be tough to define for people who define themselves as extroverts. There are a lot of misconceptions about the behaviors of an introvert, namely that all introverts are quiet or shy. This is not the case, nor is it the case that all quiet or shy people are introverts. Introversion and extroversion have to do with gaining energy and exhausting--extroverts gain energy at parties because they are fueled by being surrounded by other people, whereas some introverts are drained by parties and restore their energy by being alone. All of that being said, if your student is feeling like the college environment might be a bit daunting for whatever reason, it’s important to take note of that and consider these personality traits when selecting a college.
College is portrayed as being highly social--a breeding ground for extroversion--and in many cases, it is. At many colleges, togetherness is the norm. That being said, there are many colleges that foster a selection of different environments and set up community a bit differently.
Take a look at some schools that we found that allow their students to define their own sense of community. We want your introvert to thrive and not feel overwhelmed, while also pushing their boundaries and exploring their sense of self on their own terms. We’ve selected these schools for introverts because (1) they have no Greek life, (2) there are greater opportunities to live alone, (3) they are typically smaller schools, and (4) the proximity to nature.
Bates College (Lewiston, ME)
Situated on a gorgeous campus in Maine, students spend a lot of time outdoors (when it’s not too cold), and everyone (except a small portion of the senior class) lives on campus. There are a ton of student organizations and campus traditions to engage in year-round. For example, there’s a Late-Night Breakfast during the week of finals, and many students participate in the "Puddle Jump" in January, where there’s a hole carved out in the pond on campus and students can jump in.
Bates is largely viewed as a “make your own adventure”-type school. The campus is situated close to the Canadian border, which students can take trips across if they choose. There are many areas to explore in Maine.
There’s a Mountain Conservation Area and freshwater habitat on campus for solo-exploring and research purposes.
Bennington College (Bennington, VT)
Very small undergraduate population at 660 students.
Students don’t live in dorms, but in houses on campus that house 30-45 students. There are common kitchen and living areas and members of the house congregate for weekly Coffee Hours to discuss campus, community, and house-specific matters. Nightlife occurs on campus and parties/events are thrown by the houses.
Small, interconnected campus with an abundance of campus events.
Bennington, VT is a highly vibrant community of artists and creative thinkers. It’s a great, small college town.
Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr, PA)
Self-governing campus creates a tight-knit sense of community. For example, each dorm votes at the beginning of the year on a set of dorm rules. Everyone abides by these.
Social culture is more focused on community and intimate, creative gatherings, rather than party-centric.
An abundance of outdoor spaces to explore on campus, and a number of gorgeous outdoor performance spaces. An emphasis on the arts is a big part of Bryn Mawr.
Close proximity to Haverford so students can take advantage of programming there, and the town of Bryn Mawr is brimming with great restaurants and boutiques. Center City Philadelphia is only 20 minutes away for when students want to opt-in to city life.
Carleton College (Northfield, MN)
With 1000+ acres to wander, students at Carleton have infinite potential walking loops and areas of campus to explore. There’s an 880-acre arboretum, as well.
There is an abundance of extracurricular clubs and activities ranging from sci-fi enthusiasts club to ultimate frisbee.
Housing is widely varied--students can live in dorms, or can live in townhouses with a community-centered goal, as well as special interest housing groups.
Connecticut College (New London, CT)
Small classes (18 people per class on average).
Conn College has a program called CELS (Career Enhancing Life Skills). As a freshman, students are assigned a career counselor that works with them over the course of four years to develop career skills through meetings and workshops--mentorship and faculty-student relationships are fostered here.
Dorms and residential life is about more than just sleeping, it’s also about matching environments with personalities. You can live in independent housing, common interest housing, regular dorms, or in a number of specialized housing options.
Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH)
Student population is hugely collaborative and creative, but it is what you make of it--you can participate in as much or as little as you want. Because Oberlin is also a conservatory, there are many different subsections of communities, an abundance of activities, and a lot of room for engagement in specific areas.
70% of classes have less than 20 students.
Social life is centered in the dormitories and on campus, with a few large college-sponsored events per year and many smaller college-sponsored social events throughout the year.
Pitzer College (Claremont, CA)
Pitzer is 1 of the 5 Claremont Colleges, so students have access to a number of resources, but are able to foster a community within the smaller campus.
There are a number of college-sponsored and non-college sponsored events that occur on all 5 Claremont college campuses. A rundown of the week and weekend’s best events are sent out in an email that is compiled and sent by students on the Student Activity Committees. Every event is open to all.
It’s one of the greenest colleges in the nation and has a strong emphasis on community engagement. Students are incredibly involved in various advocacy issues throughout the area.
Reed College (Portland, OR)
We think Reed is a great atmosphere for introverts because it prides itself on creating a student population made up of self-starters and independent thinkers. You won’t be forced to do anything, but you will be inspired to propel yourself into the community.
Close proximity to central Portland, and all of the offerings that the city and numerous other colleges nearby have, but with the benefit of a smaller, cozier immediate campus.
Diverse housing options that range from dorms to theme communities. These are opt-in living clusters that occupy a floor or building centered around student-proposed themes like sustainability (“The Co-Ops), music (“Music Appreciation Society”), students of color (“SOC Community”), games (“GameDEV”), and more.
Average class size is small, at 15 students.
Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA)
The arboretum campus (the campus literally sits on an arboretum, though there is an actual arboretum as well) at Swarthmore College is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful college campuses around. It’s a great place to explore.
College-sponsored social events every weekend.
A focus on community-building, service, and advocacy means that there are an abundance of opportunities to participate in community-based learning outside of the classroom and via extracurricular activities.
Part of the tri-college consortium, so students have access to classes and the campuses of Bryn Mawr and Haverford, all introvert-friendly schools with different things to offer.
Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY)
Skidmore has a very diverse student body, with many opportunities for participation. There are always things happening on and off campus, whether it’s exploring a new restaurant in town, an acapella show, theater performance, sports game, or dance party.
Dorm life at Skidmore is what you make of it, but many say that it’s a great place to socialize if that is what you want. Dorms are often suite-style and open up to a larger hallway so they are simultaneously private and social.
Saratoga Springs is a very lively and creative community. It’s a bit busier than other college towns, with a lot of museums, a performing arts center, breweries, and farmers markets.
We understand that choosing a college is tough and there are a lot of factors to consider. We are chiefly concerned with matching our students with colleges that are the best possible fit, because everyone is different, and has different needs and interests. If you need some help creating a school list and want to talk it through, drop us a line and let’s chat. We’d love to help you figure out the absolute best school for you.