How to get the most out of college: Figuring out yourself and making a plan

Post By: COYD Staff

Happy Memorial Day! Memorial Day usually marks the beginning of the summer and most of you are ready for some sun, fun, travel and relaxation! Though most recently graduated high school students have no academic obligations, it is wise to take some time this summer to figure out what you want to get out of college before actually starting college.

Most students will not have any idea what they want to major in when they enter college and that is fine; however, having a general idea of where you want to focus your education and extracurriculars will be great way to fully maximize your time in college. One of the biggest regrets I have heard from college alumni is “I wish I had better utilized my college resources.” College is a great time to learn skills in an environment where it is okay and encouraged to make mistakes. It is a learning environment that gives you great opportunities to take on leadership roles, start entrepreneurial activities, participate in student politics, play team sports…etc. There are also many more resources that you will have at your finger tips in college that will not necessarily be available outside of college.

The key to maximizing your time in college is to have a general idea and plan of what you want to get out of your college experience. In order to do this, you obviously need to know who you are and what direction you are heading. Below are a few tips that will get you started:

1. Figure out your MBTI type.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.(1) It is well-known that the MBTI Instrument is the most trusted and world’s most widely used personality assessment tool.

There are 16 distinct personality types. The identification and description of these personality types result from the interactions among the below preferences: (2)

Favorite world/energy: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

Knowing your MBTI type is a good starting off point in figuring out your career path. Below are a few free online tests you can take, that will help you determine your MBTI:

Human Metrics

Similar Minds

Once you have taken a few tests and found your MBTI type, read about your personality type and the types of careers connected to your personality type:

Personality profiles connected to your MBTI
Careers connected to your MBTI

2. Find your passions and values.

Ask the following questions:

If you won the lottery, what would you spend your time doing?
What do you like to talk about?
What excites you?
What do you find yourself researching on the web?
What sparks your creativity?
What puts a smile on your face?
What magazines/blogs do you subscribe to?
What would you do on a Saturday night if you aren’t going out?
What are your top 3 movies?
What section of the bookstore are you usually drawn to?
If you could trade places with one person for a month, who would it be?
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Who is your hero and why?

3. Find your skills.

Ask the following questions:

What are your natural strengths?
What do family and friends say are your strengths?
When on a family vacation, what is your role?
When your family is throwing a party, what is your role?
What do you find easy?
What difficulties have you overcome?
What praise have you gotten from your teachers, employers, and friends?
What are you most proud of?

4. Matching majors and careers

Knowing the specific names of jobs and their descriptions can really help a student figure out what exact skills they will need after they graduate from college. Knowing a job’s description can really help you pinpoint what kind of hands on experience you will want to gain in college.

MonsterTrak Major to Career converter
Monstertrak’s converter that allows you to see what types of jobs are currently out there for a particular major.

Albion’s List of majors and careers

(1) Myers, Isabel Briggs with Peter B. Myers (1980, 1995). Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type. Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black Publishing. ISBN 0-89106-074-X.



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  1. How self awareness and passion will create the best college application | College Admission | College Of Your Dreams Blog - Jul 15., 2010

    […] how do you figure who you are? In a previous post titled “How to get the most out of college: Figuring out yourself and making a plan” I gave advice to soon to be college freshmen on this very subject. I think this post is […]

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