3 things you need to do before choosing a college

by St.Martin's College Counseling

college-front-hr

Choosing your school is a serious decision. For many of you, it’s one of the first big choices you are allowed to make on your own. For some it’s the beginning of an adult, negotiation-based relationship with your parents, and for others it is a decision that you alone will have to make.

When you choose your home for the next 4+ years, you are also choosing a peer group that will contribute to your future decisions and a brand that can affect how you are perceived and how you perceive yourself. There are no right or wrong answers necessarily, because you really can make the most of your college experience (more on this soon), but there are some key things you need to think about and do before you make the choice.

1. Take a personality test: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes1.htm

Whether you fully buy into it or not, the Myers-Briggs personality test can help you understand your personality traits and what kinds of careers are best fits. Think of it this way: what does it feel like if you sign your name with your dominant hand? Now how does it feel to sign with your other hand? No matter how hard you practice with the non-dominant hand, signing your name will never come as naturally as it does with that first hand.

The 8 characteristics (Extrovert vs Introvert, Sensing vs Intuitive, Thinking vs Feeling, Perceiving vs Judging) will give you insight on what is that dominant hand in terms of personality. But don’t take this too far – characteristics like being shy are not fixed personality traits. Introverts and Extroverts can both be shy. The key of learning about your personality is to learn how to use it to make the best of the situations you’ll face.

Which leads me to the next point.

chicks2. Do something where you have to interact with people without anyone you already know.

Do anything. You may think it’s tricky in the GNO to find an activity where your peer group isn’t, but this is one of the most important things you can do to learn about yourself. Volunteer by yourself. Join a sports league or go to an event by yourself and meet other people. (Note – be safe about this! Make sure someone you know knows where you are.) The point is, you often get stuck acting how other people see you and lose an opportunity to feel your real feelings and think your real thoughts (or say those real thoughts out loud).

So do yourself a favor before you make the big decision and spend some time away from your known group.

And finally…

3. Try something that is the opposite of your “stereotype”. Stereotype may be the wrong word here, but the point is the same. Do something that surprises yourself and others because it’s not your usual “thing”. Try out for a school play or sports team, join a club with a group of students you normally wouldn’t interact with or take an elective that doesn’t fit in with your normal interests. It doesn’t matter if you get a role in the play, make the team, become president of the club or get an A in that class.

Depending on how you choose to live, you might have your whole life to figure out what you want to do. But chances are you’ll have to have it sort of figured out when you graduate college in order to get a job or in order to prepare for a further degree. So by trying something different now when it is okay to fail, you’ll be that far ahead of everyone else in the game.

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