ISFP (Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, Perception) personality types are some of the most unique and creative people you’ll meet. They’re open-minded, adventure-seeking, and intellectually charged. They’re also highly competitive, fiercely independent, and very much introverted. That’s not to say they’re not eager to branch out and see the world – quite the opposite – but they very much occupy their own head spaces and prefer intimate environments that allow them to flourish. This being the case, ISFP’s tend to choose smaller liberal arts colleges that promote a level of intellectual freedom that ISFP’s cherish above all else – whether this be through open curricula, independent studies, study abroad opportunities, or a high level of artistic and creative outlets on campus. For the ISFP type’s convenience, we’ve narrowed your college list down to our top 25 picks.
ISFP’s have a natural penchant for aesthetic appreciation, and also often enjoy careers with a great deal of autonomy. This fits well with many of the elite liberal arts institutions on our ranking, which can often be good staging grounds for careers in media, science and the arts. Some of our suggested majors for ISFP’s at the following institutions include fine arts, media studies, journalism, english, biology, environmental science, geology, or forestry.
Looking for advice on what type of school and major to choose? Check out our Interview Series. Are you an ISFP? Check out our Best Career and College Advice for ISFPs from 3 Successful ISFPs.
Only 35 miles east of sunny LA, Claremont Mckenna enjoys the benefit of both being within a stone’s throw of a big city, but also relatively cloistered for introvert types and more than 80% of classes have 20 students or less. It’s also one of the most competitive schools on our list, with an acceptance rate of just 10.8%. As part of the Claremont Consortium, students may cross paths with faculty and students at 6 other institutions: Pomona College, Claremont Graduate University, Scripps College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, and the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences. Independent and unique study opportunities include programs in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., in which students complete full-time internships in business or government while remaining full-time students. Numerous study abroad programs are available, as well, with nearly half of students participating.
Williams College, consistently ranked as one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, is tucked away in rural Massachusetts – and as you might glean from the town’s name, there’s not much outside of the college and its beautiful natural setting. In other words, perfect for the ISFP looking to get away from it all. The student population is only a hair over 2,000, with more than 75% classes consisting of 20 students or less. A 4-1-4 academic schedule is highlighted by the school’s unique winter study term in January, during which students can take unconventional classes like Ski Patrol, Chess, and Inside Jury Deliberations. Also unique among American universities, Williams offers Oxbridge-style tutorials capped at 10 students. Other notable highlights include the College Museum of Art, the Center for Creative Community Development, and a wide range of independent and abroad studies.
Just outside Philadelphia, Swarthmore is another school that offers the perks of town and city. With a student population hovering around 1,500 and three-quarters of classes at 20 students or less, ISFP’s should feel more than comfortable in this intimate, competitive, and creative environment. Swarthmore stands out for its literary output, including two student news publications and several literary magazines that produce student fiction, non-fiction, humor, poetry, and artwork. Male and female a cappella groups, a student-run radio station, and a volunteer fire department are additional popular extracurricular activities. To promote its students natural independent bent, all upperclass coursework is self-directed and customized to fit each student’s educational goals. In addition, an Oxbridge-style honors tutorial is available for qualified students and includes extensive independent research and thesis-writing.
Colgate University sits on over 500 acres of breathtaking land in upstate New York. In fact, in 2014, the Princeton Review listed Colgate as the Most Beautiful Campus in America. At 2,888 enrolled students, Colgate is slightly larger than the list average, but the great majority of classes still feature 20 or less students, keeping the campus intimate while encouraging a healthy competitive atmosphere. In addition to its prestigious academics, the university has also received high marks for its LGBT-friendliness and racial diversity. Perhaps most noteworthy is that the school has received a perfect sustainability score by the Princeton Review, one of only a handful of campuses in the country to do so. As such, it should come as little surprise that Colgate’s outdoor offerings are both unique and generous, with several wilderness adventure certification programs and hiking, skiing, and camping trips offered throughout the year.
Wesleyan University totals just over 3,000 students, with an acceptance rate of about 23%. While among the larger student populations on our list, 7 out of 10 classes include 20 students or less to maintain an optimal student-to-faculty ratio. ISFP’s should feel right at home. The academics are obviously excellent, and Wesleyan offers its undergrads some of the most highly customizable and independent curriculums in the country. There is no prescribed course of study, and students choose from a selection of over 1,800 total courses and tutorials each semester. Perhaps it’s because of this academic freedom that Wesleyan’s student body is so driven and accomplished: as many as 40% of graduates double major, and many more even triple major. In addition, Wesleyan offers special undergraduate certificates for select fields of study, and more than half of its students choose an independent study. Writing is particularly emphasized at the school, and nearly all students take Wesleyan’s Writing Across the Curriculum program.
Soka University of America has 43% acceptance rate, pretty high for this particular list. Then again, that number alone is a little misleading – the school barely has 400 enrolled students, so it should go without saying that it takes a certain type of student to consider Soka University of America. And with nearly 95% of classes including more than 20 students, Soka is as tight-knit and community-oriented as they come. No wonder ISFP’s are drawn to it. In terms of its mission and practices, it’s unlike any other school you’ll find. Centered around founding principles of pacifism, human rights, and the creative coexistence of nature and humanity, Soka’s chief aim to “foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life.” There are no discipline-based academic departments, and Soka also boasts one of the most extensive study abroad programs in the country. (It is a sister school of the Soka University of Japan.
With an acceptance rate barely over 13%, Amherst is one of the most selective, competitive schools on our list. Located in the titular, quaint in rural Massachusetts, the setting is an ideal fit for a typical ISFP and was famously home to Emily Dickinson, a poet who definitely shares some of the introverted, creative characteristics of that personality type. Amherst students enjoy an open curriculum to explore the school’s 36 fields of study and an expansive, popular study abroad program. While standard majors are available (double majors are also common), many students opt to design their own interdisciplinary degrees. The school was one of the first colleges in the country to offer undergraduate degrees in interdisciplinary fields like American Studies; Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought; and Neuroscience. And as a member of the Five Colleges consortium – which includes Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst – students can choose from additional 5,300 classes offered through the partnership.
Oberlin College, at just under 3,000 students, was the first university in the country to regularly admit both female and African American students. The school’s unique Experimental College, or ExCo, allows students to teach their own classes for credit. A January winter term allows students to branch out and explore disciplines outside traditional course offerings, which students may undertake in groups or independently. (In order to graduate, students must complete at least 3 winter term projects.) Oberlin is also famous for its world class musical conservatory, and an exceptional art rental program which allows students to rent works from the likes of Renoir, Warhol, Dalí, and Picasso – all for $5. Another feature, the Creativity and Leadership Department offers students a variety of fellowships to pursue entrepreneurial ventures, including a postgraduate fellowship that includes a $30,000 stipend.
Located outside Philadelphia, Haverford is home to just over 1,000 students, and nearly 80% of classes include no more than 20 students – all good starting points for ISFP personality types. Among the most notable of 31 majors in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, are the college’s degrees in Biochemistry, Physics, Africana Studies, Feminist and Gender Studies, and others. Students also enjoy discounted ticket prices to the nearby Philadelphia Orchestra and The Curtis Institute of Music, in addition to instrument and vocal lessons. For its impressive amount of graduates who go on to pursue PhDs, the National Science Foundation has ranked Haverford #13 among all colleges and universities in the country – an incredible feat for a school of its size. In all, the school has produced 67 Fulbright Scholars, 62 Watson Fellows, 24 Goldwater Scholars, 20 Rhodes Scholars, 18 Guggenheim Fellows, 4 MacArthur Fellows, and 3 Nobel Prize Recipients.
Not far from the Charlotte area, Davidson College currently enrolls around 1,700 students and has an acceptance rate just above 20%. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, more than 70% of classes have 20 students or less and 90% have 30 or less. Students choose from 27 academic majors, but also may create their own major through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. In addition, there are 17 interdisciplinary concentrations in fields as varied as Archaeology, Computer Science, Film and Media, and Neuroscience. Of particular note is the school’s history of Royal Shakespeare Company residencies, during which the troupe has performed The Merchant of Venice, Pericles, The Winter’s Tale, and Julius Caesar, among others. Additional highlights include locally-grown dining options, an a cappella group, and more than 150 organizations across campus.
Hamilton College includes a student population of slightly under 2,000, with 75% of classes having no more than 20 students. With an open curriculum, students have the opportunity to tailor curriculums to a unique final concentration, of which the school offers over 50. As such, independent studies are obviously common on campus, and Hamilton boasts an extensive study abroad program for ISFP types looking to expand their horizons. Programs in China, France, India, and Spain are all popular, as are domestic programs in Washington, D.C, New York City, and the Adirondacks. Hamilton is also known for its wide variety of student-run media, from a radio station to several independent publications, focusing on news, politics, culture, satire, humor, and more. Housing follows a gender-neutral policy and co-op living options.
Bowdoin College accepts only 15% of applicants and has an enrollment of around 1,800 students. With 70% of classes including no more than 20 students and a student-to-faculty of ratio of 9:1, ISFP’s should feel comfortable in an intimate yet competitive setting. What’s more, the beautiful setting in rural Maine, about 30 minutes north of Portland, offers students a wealth of opportunities. Among the school’s numerous excellent programs, Government, Legal Studies, and Economics are all considered world-renowned. While briefly under an open curriculum policy, a core was eventually reinstated on the premise that it actually encouraged a more broad, interdisciplinary education that developed well-rounded students. Students currently are required coursework in Natural Sciences, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual and Performing Arts, International Perspectives and Exploring Social Differences. In addition, freshman must complete a writing-intensive seminar. In lieu of Greek Organizations, Bowdoin has social houses. Note also a high participation in study abroad programs.
As a founding member of the Claremont Colleges, students may take up to 50% of classes at any of the partnering colleges, encouraging a highly diversified and branched-out educational experience. As such, independent studies are particularly popular among the student body. In addition, unlike many other similar consortiums, all of the Claremont Colleges are within walking distance of one another, creating a kind unified master campus which, according to the Fiske Guide, results in “a collection of intellectual resources unmatched in America.” In addition to abundant course offerings – more than 2,000 in total – Pomona also offers a variety of internships and fellowships to give students ample exposure to relevant real-world experiences.
Just a train ride away from New York, Sarah Lawrence has the benefit of being both outside the cramped confines of the city and yet still very much within reach of its resources and opportunities. With a student body of approximately 1,700 students, Sarah Lawrence has one of the best student-to-faculty ratios in the country. Over 90% of its classes consist of 20 students or less. The college is perhaps best known for having no traditional majors. Instead, students pursue a highly individualized course of study from 4 major categories: the Creative Arts, History and Social Sciences, Humanities, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Following the Oxbridge 1-on-1 tutorial model, students learn in intimate, collaborative environments that encourage exploration and experimentation. Moreover, the school has numerous study abroad programs in Florence, Oxford, Paris, London, and Cuba – one of the only American schools with a relationship to our neighbors in the south.
Bard students, long considered to be among the most creative, intellectual, free-spirited in the country, enjoy nearly 80% of their classes alongside no more than 20 people. The student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1. In their freshman year, all students take the Language and Thinking, a writing-intensive introduction to the liberal arts, as well as a First-Year Seminar. In addition, over the winter term all students must complete an innovative, three-week Citizen Science program which prepares individuals to become productive and socially conscious citizens of the world. Bard also boasts a world-class music conservatory, and has an extensive worldwide network for study abroad opportunities, covering 12 cities, 5 states, and 7 countries.
Colby’s 1,800-plus students enjoy 70% of their classes with no more than 20 peers. With 54 major fields, students have exceptional educational opportunities and the ability to design independent studies according to their own intellectual interests. Particularly popular are the school’s programs in Government, Economics, and Biology. Colby also emphasizes “project-based” learning to encourage its students to delve deeply into their studies. Accordingly, study abroad programs and real-world internships are a major aspect of the Colby experience for many. To introduce freshman to the surrounding Maine wilderness, the school requires students to complete a Colby Outdoor Orientation Trip (or COOT) in which they may choose from 52 outdoor adventures, from hiking to kayaking. The Colby College Museum of Art is a top draw on campus, with collections of American painter Alex Katz, sculptures Richard Serra and Sol LeWitt, and several other American artists. (Admission is free for students.) In total, the gallery spans over 38,000 feet with well over $100 million worth of art.
Macalester College’s student body numbers just over 2,000, and more than 70% of classes include 20 students or less. With an exceptionally large international population, students are exposed to a wealth of cultures, and the school emphasizes internationalism, multiculturalism, and community service. As such, ISFP’s should certainly be able to take advantage of the unique environment. In addition, Macalester has been noted as one of the most LGBT-friendly campuses in the country. Graduates of the university have been awarded a wide range of fellowships and scholarships, including the Rhodes Scholarship, British Marshall Scholarship, the Fulbright, and several more. With more than 800 courses and 63 fields of study, students have the benefit of a wide range of intellectual pursuits, which many choose to study independently and abroad, with programs in the Netherlands, South Africa, Germany, Austria, Singapore, and France.
Pitzer College’s acceptance rate of 13% is among the very lowest on this list and in the country. And with just over 1,000 enrolled students, more than 70% of classes are occupied by no more than 20 students. Perhaps the college’s largest draw is as a member of the Claremont Consortium, perhaps the most prestigious of such partnerships. And even in the company of the consortium, Pitzer is considered to be the most unique for environment and educational philosophy. In particular, Pitzer’s curriculum consists of coursework in the social sciences, behavioral sciences, and media. ISFP’s should also take note that the school’s international focus has produced a robust study abroad program, with 67 total programs in areas as diverse as Botswana, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Japan, Nepal and Italy. For its community-oriented approach and commitment to service, Pitzer has been nationally ranked by numerous magazines.
Colorado College, situated on 90 breathtaking acres, has a student population of just over 2,000 and acceptance rate of under 18%. For those looking for intimate and collaborative classes, the school offers a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1 and capped class sizes. Courses are typically delivered in unique blocks, allowing for intensive studies on one subject over three-and-a-half-weeks. The recently-completed Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center is a particular draw. The LEED-certified building houses a theater, performances spaces, a screening room, and several classrooms designed to catalyze creative endeavors and interdisciplinary studies. In addition, independent studies and study abroad programs are heavily encouraged.
Middlebury College’s enrollment of 2,500 students is slightly larger than others on the list, but it’s hardly a cake-walk to get in: the acceptance rate currently hovers around 17%. Additionally, students at Middlebury comes from all 50 states and 74 countries, giving the campus a unique multicultural and international perspective. Popular majors include Economics, English Literature, and Environmental Sciences, though around 30% of students double major. Moreover, the same percentage opts to major in one of the school’s several interdisciplinary studies. The January winter term is another opportunity for Middlebury students to branch out, with offerings including intensive courses, independent research, and off-campus internships. The school’s summer language programs offer immersive primers in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, in which approximately half the student population participates.
Kenyon has a student population of just over 1,600 and an acceptance rate of approximately 25%. Class sizes are more than manageable, with 70% including no more than 20 students. The college is especially known for its long-standing art institutions and commitment to a broad-based, interdisciplinary curriculum. All students must complete coursework in the Fine Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. Kenyon also offers a number of interdisciplinary minors, including African and African-American Studies, Environmental Studies, the Integrated Program in Humane Studies, Islamic Civilizations and Cultures, Public Policy, and Scientific Computing. Students participate in a wide range of creative endeavors, and among the more popular attractions are the long list of a cappella groups, a radio station, a student-run record label, literary and political magazines, and comedy and performance troupes. Of particular note is the Kenyon Review, one of the nation’s top literary magazines.
Washington and Lee, or W&L, has a student population of just over 2,200 and acceptance rate of slightly under 20%. More than 70% of classes have 20 or less students, giving the school an excellent student-to-faculty ratio. Situated on more than 300 acres of land in the Shenandoah Valley, the campus is ideal for INFP types looking for a rural, community-oriented setting that encourages collaboration and a healthy amount of competition. With more than 1,100 undergraduate course offerings, W&L boasts one of the widest selections of study on our list, including 42 majors and 22 minors. Several interdisplinary fields are offered as well, from Neuroscience to Medieval and Renaissance Studies. The university promotes and encourages independent student research opportunities, and study abroad programs are a popular choice among many students. A unique four-week spring term allows students to explore subjects outside their typical field of study.
Carleton College sits on a 1,000-plus acre campus 40 miles east Minneapolis-St.Paul. With just over 2,000 enrolled students, Carleton’s acceptance rate hovers around 23%. A haven for highly accomplished individuals, the school has produced 104 National Science Graduate Fellows, 91 Fulbright Scholars, 24 NCAA Postgraduate Scholars, 21 Watson Fellows, 13 Goldwater Scholars, and 2 Rhodes Scholars. Unsurprisingly, Carleton has one of the highest PhD-pursuing alumni bases per capita. Course offerings include 39 undergraduate majors and 16 concentrations, and the school follows a unique trimester schedule. Placing an emphasis on writing, the humanities, and critical thought, all students must pass an Argument & Inquiry course and a writing course, in addition to classes in quantitative reasoning encounters, language, international studies, intercultural domestic studies, humanistic inquiry, literary and artistic inquiry, and more.
Skidmore’s student population is slightly above 2,600, with nearly 73% of classes consisting of 20 students or less. The school’s Collaborative Research Program should particularly appeal to ISFP types, giving students the opportunity to research and co-author academic papers alongside their professors. Skidmore also boasts a wealth of arts centers, from museums to theaters and music buildings. Students find plenty of on-campus activities: highlights include a student-run radio station, TV station, newspaper, several a cappella groups, and more. It is perhaps best known for its prestigious literary journal, Salmagundi, and the National College Comedy Festival, which attracts top talent from colleges across the country.
Berea is one of the most unconventional colleges on our list. Of the over 1,600 enrolled students, not one pays tuition thanks to one of the largest per student endowments in the nation. Class sizes are excellent as well, with more than 75% consisting of 20 students or less. Most significantly, Berea College is the only full-time work-study program on the list, with students required to log at least 10 hours per week across a wide range of jobs in over 130 departments. Example jobs include waiting tables, working at the student-run newspaper, TA’ing, resident assistance, and gardening and groundskeeping. It is also a welcomingly diverse campus, with 1 in 3 students being either a minority or international. As such, all students benefit from a highly multicultural, worldly environment. Further, many students choose to study abroad.