With over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, creating a short list of just 8-10 schools can be quite a challenge. The task is not made easier by the fact that schools vary greatly from one another. Size, location, choice of majors, internship opportunities, selectivity, campus vibe, available activities and diversity are only a few of the factors that high school seniors must carefully consider when creating their list of best fit colleges.
Simply diving into the college selection process with google searches and college guidebooks is not the best way to build a college list. A student must first have a clear understanding of his or her personal preferences and then apply those preferences to their college search.
In my experience as a college admissions consultant, most students do not initially know what they want in a college. They are inevitably limited in their experiences and still growing as young adults. The most effective tool I have found to aid students in understanding their personal preferences is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is the world’s most widely used personality assessment. Many parents have encountered it as part of an on-the-job workshop. Businesses use the MBTI for team-building and to provide staff with information that can be used in effective problem-solving and decision-making. As a certified MBTI practitioner, I use the MBTI to provide students working with The College Spy a framework for understanding their core preferences as they relate to the large and small decisions that are part of the college selection process. This framework helps them rigorously analyze their options and make intentional choices that best fit their unique personality, priorities and values.
The MBTI helps students understand the following four aspects of their personality and how these aspects affect their behavior.
• Where they prefer to direct their focus (outward or inward?)
• How they prefer to take in information (step-by step or big picture?)
• How they prefer to make decisions (using thoughts or feelings?)
• How they prefer to organize their world (planned and orderly or flexible and spontaneous?)
The MBTI does not label students and it does not assess their skills and abilities. It simply helps students understand what they prefer. When we take away the pressures and expectations of a student’s environment (homework, friendships, rules at home and school) what would the student naturally do?
The value of the MBTI lies in the discussion that follows the assessment. Students learn how their personality type influences behaviors and, importantly for college planning, guides his or her decision making. As we continue to work together to find a best fit college (and get in!), the results of the MBTI are likely to become useful in understanding the student’s choices. MBTI results are also useful in discussions regarding learning styles, choosing classes, choosing a major, job satisfaction, dealing with stress and addressing conflict.
Michelle McAnaney is the founder of The College Spy, a full service independent educational consulting firm that assists students and families across the US and internationally with the college selection and application process. Prior to founding The College Spy, Michelle was a counselor and educator for more than 15 years, including serving as the Director of Guidance at two high schools, an adjunct college professor and a GED tutor. Michelle holds a master’s degree in school counseling and a bachelor’s degree in human development. She recently completed UC Irvine’s certificate program in educational consulting and is a MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) Certified Practitioner and a NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner. Michelle visits over 40 colleges each year so that she has first-hand knowledge of the colleges and universities her clients will be considering. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
The College Spy offers all students (whether or not you are a College Spy client) the opportunity to take the MBTI. After taking the MBTI online, students will receive a report explaining their results and meet with Michelle McAnaney, founder of The College Spy, by phone or video conference to learn how the results relate to their college planning. The cost is $75. To learn more about how the MBTI can help your student, click HERE or contact The College Spy at 1-800-207-4305 / firstname.lastname@example.org.