Introverts withdraw from crowds, hate small talk and desperately need their me-time. Think of one of the worst places to put them— if you didn’t guess college, then you, my friend, must have an on-going reservation for the losing side in Trivia Crack. Just imagine the lecture halls filled with 200 kids, the dorms brimming with strangers, the dining halls packed with ravenous students, the frats crammed with drunk, groping gentlemen– welcome to Introvert’s Inferno (the only casual Dante reference in the piece, I swear).
Moving from hell to heaven: innovative housing, accommodating class structures and vibrant student life create safe havens for the less socially inclined. These 10 best colleges for introverts persuade them to get out of their own heads (and sweatpants) and onto campus.
Keep reading to find out where to find the 10 best colleges for introverts.
1. University of Chicago
One HUGE source of fun– apart from the 53 sports offered, including Quidditch and paintball, is the housing system. In 11 residence halls, members of 38 different “Houses” reach family-status by sharing quirky traditions, a House Council, a House Lounge (the “family room”) and reserved tables in the dining hall. More importantly, they bond through sweet activities like fundraising, hiking trips, excursions downtown, “Bad Movie” nights, sports competitions against other Houses and 10-minute dance parties during finals week. What better way to bond those prone to nerdiness than a Harry Potter-inspired housing system?
2. Earlham College
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. Proceed with caution.
MIT is known for their kickass frats but more kickass is their student life. How can you beat 478 student groups on campus? Oh yeah, you can’t. Herman Li, a senior at MIT and an officer of Mocha Moves Dance Squad, said, “MIT makes an effort to create a sociable environment by allowing students to find which culture they fit best in and to actively be a part of it.” But finding that environment may be as easy as picking housing for students at MIT. Every year, during Campus preview weekend and Residential Exploration, dorms send out videos and host events that embody their culture in hopes to sway the residency status of prospective freshmen. Reflecting on her own more traditionally “nerdy” house (all big fans of Dungeons and Dragons, superheroes and video games), Katherine Stone, a junior and vice captain of the MIT Marauders, said, “I love that MIT let me find a friend group that I can spend my Saturday nights playing D&D or watching all 8 Harry Potter movies at once with.”
4. Vassar College
Diversity seeps into the basic structure of student life at Vassar. Just take a look at their clubs: Squirm, both a club and publication, essentially revolves around the s-word (no, not squirm. S.E.X.). Aircappella, an all-whistling a cappella group, gives professional whistling teams a run for their money worldwide. Barefoot Monkeys, a circus arts troupe, holds forums and performances that include– but are not limited to– juggling and fire spinning. Morgan Williams, sophomore and president of Squirm said, “Student organizations definitely provide a space to find like-minded people.” With over 100 student clubs and organizations and over 1,650 campus-wide events, it’s hard for any student to not to take part in the shenanigans.
5. Northeastern University
For budding recluses, gaining work experience is as difficult as killing first impressions. Interviews. Follow-up calls– oh, God, I’ll stop there. 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 completes at least one during their college careers.
6. Wesleyan University
Wesleyan’s campus can only be described by one word: hoppin’. With 99% of students living on campus, the school– with the help of over 200 student organizations– makes sure there’s always something to do. Poetry open mic nights, experimental dance performances, AEPi raves– you name it, Wesleyan’s got it. But even the most wonderful wallflowers shouldn’t overlook the party scene. Most parties have an all-inclusive, open door policy– I mean, they let freshmen guys into frats. For free. One frat, Eclectic, charges guests little (or nothing!) to come in and check out Indie bands. Who said frats were only good for kegs?
7. 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– nay, demand– in their students are originality, independence and drive. And– unfortunately– you can’t BS those qualities at SLC. The college’s website said faculty have twice the contact with students than professors at other institutions. Well, brag on. In its deck of cards, the college has a 10:1 student-teacher ratio and small seminars comprise 90 percent of all classes. Still not impressed? 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 (whether they like it or not).
8. Westminster College
Housing is a great way to make best friends– or arch nemeses. For the hermitlike 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. Oh, and ladies? The ratio of men to women is about 3:2. Those odds aren’t too shabby.
9. University of the Ozarks
Big campuses usually aren’t the right fit for introverts. We like to band together in tight-knit communities. Frankly, I 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.
10. Florida Atlantic University
I know what you’re thinking: a student body of over 25,000 undergraduates is too much to handle for introverts. I mean I just said big campuses are usually a no-no (seriously, go back and check out #9), but larger class sizes and commuter campuses shouldn’t be entirely overlooked. For some introverts, especially the socially awkward penguins, small, seminar-like classes are an early condemnation to hell. With FAU’s 25:1 student-faculty ratio and 60% of classes with 20 to 50 students, you have the opportunity to bravely participate some days and blend in when necessary. And if the large classes are draining, escape the crowd any time (except class time, sorry folks) along with the other 94 percent of students who live off campus.
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Updated July 18, 2016: We’ve added awesome tees and links to get them!