There are thousands of schools in the United States, and they’re pretty easy to sift through if you’re looking at binary determinators. Do they have an engineering program? Do they offer a study abroad program doing fieldwork in Madagascar? Do they have a themed living community for young men and women who wanted to be wizards but, after not receiving that invite to Hogwarts, have resigned themselves to a life in chemistry? All of those are important questions (they’re important for someone, ok, don’t judge), but they are also simple questions. They have yes or no answers.
The atmosphere of a college, and whether it will work with your personality to help you grow into your best self, is less easily definable. There are huge colleges like the University of Alabama that are known as party schools, but that have many smaller communities perfect for those who aren’t up for tailgating. There are also small schools like Barnard that are nurturing and close-knit, but have a lot to offer applicants looking for a big city feel.
We’ve found that one of the best ways to pinpoint what type of college atmosphere would be best for you is to first figure out whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert. There is a lot of confusion about the difference between extroverts and introverts, and we’ve written already a little about it on our list of colleges for introverts, but let’s get one thing perfectly straight: being an extrovert doesn’t mean that you run around like a wild thing talking people’s heads off at all hours of the day. An extrovert might do that, but being outgoing and bubbly isn’t a mandatory criterion. Similarly, introverts are not necessarily locking themselves every night.
Put simply, an introvert gains energy from being alone. This doesn’t mean that they don’t like social situations, just that they recharge by taking some space for themselves. Extroverts, on the other hand, are energized by being surrounded by other people. You could think of it as an internal or external power source. Introverts are recharged by an internal power source that needs some alone time to kick in. Extroverts are recharged by an external power source - the kinetic energy of socialization (aka people).
If you know that you’re an extrovert, the question becomes: what do you need from a school?
Again, a lot of people immediately jump to party schools. They think large, loud, an emphasis on athletic/sports culture, and a strong Greek life will make a place a perfect fit, and it might, but there is a lot more to an extroverted social scene than the cheering of a football stadium. Extroverts should look for schools that have an active social life on and off campus. Schools extroverts fit into best have many clubs and ample campus activities, as well as an emphasis on community meeting spaces that bring people together, as opposed to individual spaces that create private cubbyholes. Extroverts do well in communal living environments, for example, so they should look for suite-style housing and themed communities. Read on for 10 schools that we feel are great for extroverts, including a few you might not expect.
1. Brown University (Providence, RI)
Brown is located in the heart of the City of Providence and students benefit from all that the city has to offer. With only 6,200 undergraduate students, Brown is intimate, but the accessibility of the city, and its proximity to Boston, fuel a strong social scene. Brown’s housing system emphasizes community closeness, but being actively involved outside of the classroom is a key part of the university’s culture. Also, if you like listening to brilliant minds, Brown’s campus event calendar will make you drool.
2. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)
This one may be a bit stereotypical, but we stand by it. UNC Chapel Hill’s academics are stellar, but their campus life is legendary. Their strong athletic culture and significant Greek life, with dozens of fraternities and sororities that do over 35,000 hours of community service and raise over $400,000 for local and national philanthropies annually, contribute to their work hard, play hard reputation. The number of opportunities and size of the student body can be overwhelming for students who like smaller social groups, but if you’re up for being surrounded by thousands celebrating a Tar Heels victory, you’ll love it there.
3. Georgetown University (Washington, DC)
Georgetown isn’t the most raucous campus, especially when compared to the big athletic schools, so it might seem like an unexpected pick, but DC has a lot to offer. From Friday nights out on the town to world-class networking and pre-professional opportunities that will help you get ahead of the curve, Georgetown is a great pick for outgoing students who love going out of their social comfort zone.
4. Barnard College (New York, NY)
A women’s college with only 2,500 students, Barnard’s tiny size is misleading. Part of the Columbia University family of undergraduate colleges, Barnard benefits from having a small student body built around community spaces, but that’s attached to a massive university with endless opportunities. Traditions like The Big Sub, where students line up to chow down on a sub that stretches the length of campus (average time of total consumption is 5 minutes) maintain the school’s close-knit feel while being in the middle of New York City makes just about anything possible.
Read up on how to write the Barnard College supplement.
5. New York University (New York, NY)
Like Barnard, you have New York City at your fingertips, but this downtown school is known for amping things up even by city standards. For extroverts, though, the best part of NYU might just be their portal campus system. With campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, and global academic centers in places like Accra, Buenos Aires, and Prague, NYU makes it easy to explore the world while pursuing your degree at one of the best universities in the United States.
6. University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, CO)
The University of Colorado Boulder is a big university in a small city, but it doesn’t overrun its idyllic setting. Students are known for loving the outdoors and there is a huge amount of enthusiasm around getting outside with friends at every possible opportunity. This makes Boulder a great place for applicants who relish the opportunity to be part of a large community that’s all about stripping things down and getting back to basics.
7. Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
One word: Nashville. Music, southern charm, and a killer food culture make Vanderbilt a slam dunk for people with a social streak. Students are encouraged to take courses across the four undergraduate colleges, something you have to be up for breaking out of your safe bubble to take advantage of, and the schools on-campus housing rules create tight social circles within dorms of as many as 350.
8. The University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
We know, we know, we do remember that we said to look beyond the expected, but USC is known for both its rigorous academics and its raucous campus (and off-campus) life. Its diverse student body of 19,000 undergraduate students makes for a heck of a social scene steeped in sunny California culture.
9. Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT)
Middlebury isn’t a party school, but it’s a people school. Students are known for being outgoing and outdoorsy, and the lively campus life makes up for it’s quieter Central Vermont setting. Weekends are packed with plays, concerts, screenings, and parties, and the colleges 8:1 student-faculty ratio and small class sizes mean that you can’t get lost in the crowd. Students are expected to participate, to speak their mind, and to go out of their way to have (and share) an opinion.
10. The University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)
What would this list be if we left out the U of T at Austin? Answer: a negligent one. The University is gigantic, the culture is rowdy, the city of Austin is stellar, and the annual SXSW conferences and festivals bring in world leaders, world class musicians, and have turned Austin into a tech and entrepreneurship hub. Sure, the football is great, but If you’re into startups and willing to put yourself out there, UT Austin is at the heart of the entrepreneurship movement.
Curious about where you’d flourish? Hit us up. We’re good at getting people into their perfect fit