I know what you’re doing right now. You told your parents that you were working on your college applications. You sat down at the computer, logged into commonapp.org, got a bit overwhelmed…and then promptly opened a new tab so you could distract yourself with an online quiz.
I can’t lie—I’m not even mad! There is nothing I love more than finding out which Avenger I am and what my taste in music indicates I should make for dinner. As entertaining as these quizzes are, however, there’s ultimately not that much you can take away from them. You click through a hundred questions, find out that you’re 60% Daenerys, 15% Tyrion, and 25% some character you forgot about from season 3…but you’re not going to Westeros, you’re going to college! Luckily, there’s a way for you to honestly tell your parents you’re working on your college application AND take online quizzes!
Last week, we were fortunate enough to have our own admission counselor and Organizational Change and Leadership Doctoral candidate, Nathan Mack, lead our staff in a StrengthsFinder exercise. We all took an online quiz (though I guess you’re supposed to call it an “assessment” if you’re doing it for work) to find out what exactly each of us brings to the table. Thinking about our personalities and approaches to life/work was incredibly interesting, but even more importantly, the exercise provided us with a vocabulary for talking about ourselves. It’s so much more effective to articulate, “I am a problem solver that sees the glass half full” rather than, “I’m a hard worker.”
How would doing something similar help you? The college application process requires quite a lot of self-awareness. You are creating a college list based on your current interests and future goals, you are telling your story in a 650-word essay, and, ultimately, you are trying to convince colleges that you are a good fit for their them. It’s significantly easier to highlight your values and strengths if you are given the words to describe them. By utilizing these quizzes/assessments, you may learn how to more effectively and convincingly answer the important question: what will you bring to our university community?
So do some looking around the internet. You can find the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator through the Meyers & Briggs Foundation, or you can check out similar (free) assessments through Naviance’s “Do What You Are,” 16 Personalities, etc. Some other great options are the High 5 Test and My Personality Test, (which is a free version of True Colors). Colleges need all types of students, so don’t fret if you and your friend have the same dream school but your parachutes are different colors. The idea here is to better understand the situations and environments in which you thrive so that as you chose your major, write your essays, interview with admission representatives, and finalize your college lists, you stand out as a genuinely great fit. Check all the boxes that describe you but know that these assessments are not about boxing you in. The purpose is to get to know yourself first so you can better show colleges who that is. What your mom says is true…to know you is to love you!