Unfortunately, many prospective college students skip an important metric when deciding their college degree — their personality.
Whether or not a discipline offers great employment opportunities, it won’t suit you if you lack personal and professional attributes to meet its competitive needs. For instance, if you’ve chosen advertising as your major but you don’t possess the creative thinking skills and capacities required to thrive in big advertising agencies, you’re unlikely to succeed.
Before choosing your college degree, you have to evaluate yourself rigorously. From understanding your long terms goals to exploring important personality traits, such as temperament and sociability, a lot needs to be assessed. Otherwise, you risk having a less than productive time at college and ending up in an incompatible job after graduation. You might also have to research different college courses on a reputable website like College Rank to understand your options fully.
To make sure you’re choosing the right college degree for your higher studies, here are some things you need to keep in mind before making any decisions.
1. Understand Your Personality Type
A college major consistent with your personality will bring you greater success. You’ll be better positioned to get good grades, stay committed to your major, and complete graduation on time. Moreover, people who share similar personality profiles tend to lean towards similar goals. Critical thinkers gravitate towards the sciences whereas dreamers are more into the arts.
To help college students better understand personality types, John L. Holland analyzed the link between personality career styles in 1997. He segmented individuals into six main types:
- Realistic: Realistic individuals like to work with tangible things. They have a special talent for machines, plants, and tools. Careers most suited for their disposition are, therefore, architecture, engineering, and nursing.
- Investigative: They enjoy mind crackers and puzzle pieces, which has a detective and analytical element associated with it. The best careers for them revolve around research, lab work, and analysis.
- Artistic: They brim with imagination and creative thinking. Structured activities don’t interest them much. You’ll find them working in professions such as writing, poetry, and cinematography.
- Social: They’re great with people and their verbal communication skills, especially powers of persuasion and negotiation, are top-notch. Unlike realists, they don’t fancy working with machines and tools. Their most sought out careers are public relations, teaching, and counseling.
- Enterprising: Enterprisers are driven and gregarious. They pounce on unique opportunities and strive to adapt to different environments, no matter how unaccommodating. Sales, leadership, and management are their preferred professions.
- Conventional: They like structured jobs. Therefore, they excel with records, statistics, and accounting. They’re very good at crafting and executing comprehensive plans.
No person is a single personality type. You might interlay with many styles. A creative person will also have investigative capacities. The key is to single out your dominant traits. According to the aforementioned personality types, some tips to help you narrow down your college major are as follows:
- First, highlight the traits from each personality type that describe your personality best.
- Then, make lists.
- In the first list, pen down college degrees that match your main personality traits.
- In the second list, rank college majors according to their scope, employment ratio, and other criteria you see fit.
- Now, compare both lists and make your decision.
2. Get to Know Your Goals
Don’t listen to others. College is your choice. You’ll have to meet its demands. What your parents and friends say shouldn’t affect your decision. In the end, it boils down to your desires and wants.
To narrow things down, write a comprehensive study plan. Some questions to answer:
- Where do you see yourself in ten years?
- Do you want to become an entrepreneur or join a company?
- Do you think your college degree will give you the practical skills for the line of work you’re choosing?
- Do you have the personality traits to stay committed to your college degree for its entire duration?
3. Find the Right Environment
This is an especially critical criterion to evaluate.
Some students prefer individualized institutions that don’t have large faculties with lots of students. Others are more independent. They prefer to move to another city, to a bigger school and earn and support their studies with little help. Ask yourself: which of these arrangements would suit you best?
Some colleges are also not equipped to support extracurricular and recreational activities. If you’re into sports, fitness, or some other similar activity, you might have to rethink your choices.
Different schools also have different atmospheres. A private college won’t be as flexible as a private college.
Moreover, if you’ve had to combat social anxiety most of your life, you might want to pass on big schools. Some students are unable to handle large crowds. They often feel overwhelmed and distracted in these settings. If you’re one of them, it’s completely fine. You can still choose other, more socially accommodating colleges. There’s no need to pressure yourself into acclimatizing yourself to an atmosphere you’re not going to thrive in.
4. Visit Different Colleges
Nothing beats an on-site litmus test to verify whether your dream college is worth it or not.
Instead of mentally evaluating things, why not visit your prospective colleges and see how you fit in? Take yourself on some test runs and see if you feel at home.
After a visit, ask yourself:
- Was interacting with students easy?
- Did the college provide ample reason for you to stay on board?
- How were the teachers? Did you like interacting with them?
- What about the college campus? Did you find it equipped enough to handle your personal and academic needs?
You should never base your decision on a college prospectus. The information and pictures on online websites and catalogs rarely ever tell the whole story. There’s no substitute for an on-campus visit.
Choosing a college degree is a high stakes decision. You have to invest time in understanding your personality. If time is a problem, you can also take personality quizzes online to make things much more convenient and quicker. However, it would be in your best interest to make at least one campus visit to your prospective college. When you’re on college grounds, you’ll be better able to analyze how you feel about the college’s students, professors, and general environment.