Are you an introvert? What is an introvert? You may be an introvert and not know it. Let's define our terms. Here are a few common personality traits associated with introversion:
- You prefer time to yourself … solitude is a welcome relief. Introverts often enjoy reading, gardening, crafting, writing, gaming, watching movies or doing any other activity that's performed alone.
- You prefer working alone … isolation allows introverts to focus deeply and produce high-quality work … they just prefer to retreat and focus on the task at hand, rather than navigate the social aspect of working in a group setting.
- You have a close circle of friends and like it that way … [you] prefer the solitude of a small circle of friends. High-quality relationships are a key to happiness for introverts, according to one study.
- You're accused of zoning out a lot … Introverts often "escape" from a situation by letting their minds wander from the task at hand … it's a survival mechanism of sorts. But to others, it may seem like you're unfocused.
- You prefer writing over talking … You prefer to think through your response because your communication style is focused and considerate … if decisions are necessary, you may want more time to weigh your options.
- You 'feel' more … One study shows that introverts are more likely to be diagnosed with depression … because introverts don't feel happy as often as extroverts ... it may have to do with how introverts identify happiness.
Does this sound like you? If so, and you're in college search mode right now, you may want to investigate some introvert-friendly schools.
College Magazine has selected its Top 10 Schools for Introverts. I'm a big introvert and in reviewing the list, I must admit that I could easily see myself at most of them. Let's take a look to see if any might intrigue you enough to dig deeper.
Relationships in and out of the classroom are so important and (curses!) so difficult for the seemingly shy types. But you don't have to worry about being nameless in Earlham classrooms. To drop some statistics, students and faculty share over 13,000 hours of community service annually, 85 percent of the faculty research with students and the average class size is a whopping 12. It's no wonder U.S News ranked Earlham among the nation's top liberal arts colleges for commitment to teaching excellence. From the loudest kid in class to the quietest, these professors know all your names …
As an introvert, I value personal relationships. The promise of faculty engaging closely with the student body appeals to me very much. With such a small average class size, going to class would be more like a gathering of friends rather than an impersonal listen-and-learn exercise. Introverts prefer a small, close circle of friends, and to me, I would likely come to view my classmates in each of my intimate class settings as part of my friendship circle, and that would definitely include my professors.
For budding recluses, gaining work experience is as difficult as killing first impressions. Interviews … Cue the co-op program. Students alternate semesters of academic study with semesters of full-time employment in positions that align with their career or academic interests. To make the transition to the strange (and possibly terrible) 9 to 5 grind, Northeastern provides prep courses, an academic advisor, a co-op coordinator and, if you're looking for positions overseas, an international co-op counselor. Feel like, even with all that help, you'd still never be tempted to participate in a co-op? Console yourself with the fact that 90 percent of graduating Northeastern students complete at least one during their college careers.
Due to their shyness, introverts can often struggle to present themselves convincingly. This can become an issue when they attempt to secure employment, during senior year or after graduation. Northeastern's co-op program is famous and graduates testify to its effectiveness. Also, supporting those co-op opportunities is the key, as mentioned above. All this can prepare — and draw out — introverts, enabling them to become impressive job candidates, in sharp contrast to their innate reticence and tendency for reclusiveness.
Sarah Lawrence College
SLC is known as a campus brimming with hipster, free-sprit and quintessential starving artist-types. "The idiosyncratic student/artist is certainly welcomed," said Professor Ernest Abuba, a member of the theatre faculty since 1995. But the only characteristics that the faculty want in their students are originality, independence and drive … The college's website said faculty have twice the contact with students than professors at other institutions … the college has a 10:1 student-teacher ratio and small seminars comprise 90 percent of all classes … Each class has a requirement of biweekly, individual student-to-faculty conferences. Translation: even the most reclusive students receive the care and individual attention of dedicated faculty members.
Here's another school I'd love to attend. What do you think of when you imagine a "starving artist"? I envision someone with highly creative gifts who wants to be left alone to realize his or her unique ideals. For young people like this, SLC offers a nurturing environment that can maximize the growth and development of introverted types, whether they be writers, visual artists, actors or musicians. As with Earlham, the small class sizes and close faculty contact are ideal for optimizing an introvert's potential.
… For the hermit-like, especially, the very idea of a roommate can spark a bit of hyperventilation. But not to fear. Not only does this college make every student fill out a detailed housing application, but they also assign an admission representative whose responsibilities include getting to know you and helping match you with compatible roommates. For weekend activities, one thing is for sure: this is no "suitcase" college. 75 percent of students remain on campus each and every weekend …
Roommate matching is critical for introverts. Some may say that we introverts must experience our opposite types in order to be "well rounded." However, for incoming introverted first-year students, being thrown into a living space with a wildly outgoing extrovert can be shocking, if not intimidating. That's why I admire Westminster's superb attention to detail when it comes to knowing who might be complementary roommates. The first year of college is not the time for shock therapy when it comes to introverts. We like to ease our way into situations and having a similarly minded roommate is just the ticket for us.
University of the Ozarks
Big campuses usually aren't the right fit for introverts. We like to band together in tight-knit communities … don't know if you can get any closer than University of Ozark's student body. With 72 percent of 587 students living on campus, school events like dance parties, movie weekends, bowling nights and sports games all deserve the label of "can't-miss." If you're thinking, 587! I'll never get into that school, the school has a 90 percent acceptance rate. Fear of rejection is a terrible excuse not to apply.
The "close knit" coin can sometimes have two markedly different sides. My instincts tell me that a campus with only 587 students may be ideal for my introverted needs. However, on balance, I would also have to consider that a group this small might exert a crowding effect on my desire to be left alone many times. Very small campuses like this sometimes have the issue of everyone essentially knowing everyone else's business. Mostly, though, the small, familiar campus is the way we introverts like to go.
I covered just five of College Magazine's Top 10. Be sure to check the other five to make certain that you don't miss a likely prospect.
In general, you'll probably see that smaller student bodies are more introvert friendly. On the other hand, larger schools, sometimes even a bigger state university, can offer a similar small-campus feel through their scholars programs, which provide a subset of the general student population for qualified applicants. The College Magazine list, though, will give you a good indication of the kinds of features you should be looking for to satisfy your introverted preferences. Happy hunting!
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