What colleges are well-suited to introverts and which ones will help me become less introverted?


Jessica Tomer, Jessica Tomer is the Editor-in-Chief at Carnegie Communications.

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Nothing wrong with being introverted! I consider myself an introvert as well (gotta have my "me time" to recharge!). One of my favorite things about the independence that came with being a college student was the freedom to check out events and be social on my schedule, on my terms. You can join an extracurricular in something you love and spend time like-minded students, and you can study on your own in the library without anyone batting an eye. You can spend Friday night hanging out with friends and Saturday doing your own thing.

You mentioned looking for schools that would help you become "less introverted"; again, I don't think there's anything wrong with being introverted. However, if you're shy and interested in campuses that might be a good fit for similar individuals, I thought you might want to check out these lists of schools known for being especially welcoming:

Best of luck in your college journey!

Nedda Gilbert, MSW, Educational Consultant, and Author

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I think it's possible to be comfortable as an introvert at almost any college. I certainly knew of many introverts when I went to college decades ago, and I matriculated at a place with a fairly big social scene. My freshman year roommate was introverted and did just fine. In fact, we became good friends. And I've often heard more current college students describe a peer or two as the type of individual wanting "to do their own thing" or "in their own world." I take that as somebody who is more introverted and less eager to jump in with the masses. The point is, I think there is room for all types in college. Unlike high school, college is a time and place where most feel freer to authentically be who they are. Many a student goes off to college with a desire to immerse themselves in deep academic study, and less the local social scene. Not everyone like to party. Not everyone is drawn to Greek life.

Despite the more accepting and even comfortable environment that the right college may offer you, I guess my question is are you just someone who is inherently shy, introverted and most happy to be on your own? Or do you suffer from some social fears and a lack of social confidence? It's possible that being introverted is a symptom of social anxiety or discomfort. Whatever the case may be, perhaps you should feel encouraged to spend time with a school or outside counselor who may help you learn some social tools. These might help you manage your natural proclivities and reduce any social anxieties as you head off to some inevitable social challenges and dynamics. It may even be helpful to role play simple ice-breakers. I suggest this because you are about to embark on a life-changing, new adventure. College offers you an opportunity for a fresh start and options to become a more engaged and social person than you were before.. From the way you ended your question, are there schools which will "help me become less introverted" my feeling is that you are looking to break out from yourself, and become more comfortable. Again, I would start with a professional, or your school counselor - supportive adults - who may help you prepare and arm you with strategies for social success at college. You need not feel as though you have to morph into someone who could run for class president. Even just a small change in your outlook and social confidence may make a big difference once you arrive on campus.

But back to the types of colleges you asked about. It may make sense to stay away from party schools. It's one thing to step out of your comfort zone, its quite another to step into a non-stop beer and vodka fest. I might also stay away from schools where Greek life dominates. At Georgia Tech, Greek like only represents about 25% of student life. That's a good mix for you. You might also want to seek out affinity groups and special clubs at college. There are religious ones like Hillel, sports ones, political ones - you name it. All may allow you to create a more intimate environment within a larger school. As for large versus small schools, although one of the experts above suggests large schools allow you to hide out and not feel compelled to join the social scene, really large schools can be alienating and overwhelming until you find your groove. Unless there is some unique feature about a large school that mitigates it's size, you may want to stick to more manageable numbers. And anyways, the point is not for you to hide out, but as you said, begin to become less introverted.

Most importantly, it may be helpful for you to consider the housing structure at a prospective college. At Yale University, undergraduate life revolves around it's residential college system. Students are required to stay in their residential colleges for both freshman and sophomore years. Many students have shared that this kind of housing system played a critical role in fostering a sense of belonging in the community.

Wherever you wind up, give careful thought to the culture of the school, and to the kinds of offerings and programs (residential, honors, clubs, research opportunities) that will provide you the foundation ad structure you need to feel as comfortable and as socially connected as you can. Best of luck!

Kazuya Shiba, Bodybuilder, Personal Trainer, Gamer

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As a major introvert myself, I applaud you for even asking this question! :)

As a graduate of 2 colleges and a visitor of many, let me help you as much as I can:

First off, in my opinion, no college is full of introverts, but all colleges have a ton of introverts. There's no statistic that exists that labels people as "introverts" or "extroverts" so it's impossible to know how many introverts or extroverts there are in a college or any other place, BUT you can bet there are a lot of both in any group of people.

My advice: Don't worry. You will never be alone in college. The same way my college had an underwater basket weaving club, there are always people with the same interests or characteristics as you. It's not the college that has the power to change you in any way. It's what YOU do during the time you have at any school that will change you into who you want to be.

Good Luck!!!!

Pamela Petrease Felder, Introverts and College

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I think most colleges are well-suited for introverts. The best way to determine how a college/university suits your personality is to visit the campus and meet with faculty members and students. Also, visit the website to get a sense of how the campus climate addresses both your social and academic needs. I'd also suggest meeting with an academic adviser to determine how your academic goals might be supported.

Colleen Clemens, College Professor, Writer, Editor, Tutor & Parent

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Colleges offer more and more online courses, so if need be, you can do many courses that way. And college really applauds the introvert in many ways. Think about it! Studying alone, encouraging time to think and process...all things we introverts enjoy.

So I am going to focus on the second part of your question on how to be less introverted. First, let me remind you that wanting to spend time with yourself is a quality, not a hindrance. So how do we find ways to balance out your lack of extrovertedness (yes, I made up that word!)?

Talk with someone next to you in your class. I am hoping some of your professors encourage you to make connections with other students through collaborative work in and out of class. If that doesn't happen, ask the person who sits next to you for contact info for studying and absences. That's a huge step and a good start.

Go to a club meeting. Notice I didn't say "join a club." That might seem way too daunting. But letting yourself just go to a meeting to check it out might be enough to get you more interested in going to the next meeting. Or knowing that that group isn't for you and you need to try a different meeting.

Attend events on campus. You don't have to talk with anyone, but attending a speaker will give you fodder for a conversation that comes up weeks from now.

Go to a prof's office hours. Connecting with the educators on campus will also help you practice your extrovert skills. Just stop by with a quick question about a paper. You don't need to stay for an hour. Maybe you will someday.

Remember, small steps. Practice. You don't need to become the school mascot! But if you try little things, I think you will find the balance you are seeking.

Michael Schoch, Noodle Intern

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That's a great question.

First off, here is a list of 10 schools that are well-suited to introverts. Bear in mind that this is highly subjective.

And here is an article about the struggles of being introverted in college.

Truthfully, except for an online program which allows you total flexibility in your study location and hours, there probably isn't one school that's better or worse for introverts. Your major, preferences and immediate environment will do more to shape how well you thrive.

Being very introverted myself and having spent considerable time as both a student and teacher at small liberal arts colleges and enormous state universities, I can say that different schools present different advantages and challenges. In many cases they all even out.

I found that universities with giant campuses and class sizes actually granted more anonymity than smaller colleges, where choosing not to participate in a social activity might be perceived as conspicuous or standoffish. Also, universities have more lecture classes, where student discussion is minimized. On the other hand smaller schools often create more chances to meet new people in calm, intimate settings that are less overwhelming; however their smaller classes may require students to do more public speaking.

No matter which school you attend, there will be a substantial social component. You'll be expected to speak a certain amount in your classes and you will have to get along with room and dorm mates. While it's essential to develop your social skills enough to handle these tasks, don't feel pressured to be more social or outgoing than you feel comfortable with. This article about alone time in college points out that many students feel awkward, or as though they're doing something wrong when spending time alone, when in truth this can be productive and enjoyable!

I know this isn't a definitive answer, but hopefully it's helpful. Good luck searching for a college and enjoy the rest of your summer!

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