by Julie Lutton, Upper School counselor
Everyone who spends time with high-school students will eventually hear trepidation about "junior spring," when the college admissions process starts in earnest. But as Director of College Counseling Ari Worthman has written, students can learn a lot about themselves during this somewhat stressful time. Juniors, in particular, are at an exciting point when they are trying to figure out how their interests and personalities will fit with structures in the rest of the world – including relationships, colleges, and careers.
At Lakeside, we've set up a couple of structures to guide them in their thinking. Just before winter break, the junior class met with the counseling team and were offered the opportunity to take either the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or Strong Interest Inventory at no cost. About 80 percent of the class opted in. These two inventories can help people learn more about themselves and how they may best fit with real-world settings and jobs. After completing these assessments, juniors were offered an opportunity to attend a session to learn more about the assessment they have completed and to get their personal results.
The MBTI, originally developed in 1942 by a mother-and-daughter team and first published in 1962, focuses on helping people understand their preferences in four different scales. The scales include where people draw their energy from, how they take in information, how they make decisions, and how they structure their lives. The results are presented in a four-letter "type," in which each letter indicates a preference in each of these scales. It is exciting to watch the juniors see their personalities and preferred ways of being reflected in their MBTI types! Our hope is that students use this information to build a deeper knowledge of how they prefer to function in their classes, in their relationships, and in how they take care of themselves.
The Strong Interest Inventory is one of the oldest psychological assessments still in use today. Originally published in 1927, the assessment has been revised many times to reflect the modern workplace and the people who work in it. The Strong Interest Inventory helps people understand the types of preferences they have in a work setting and match those preferences to the types of careers that might be a good fit for that person. It can help young people explore careers that they may not have considered previously and to learn more about the ways in which they can function most productively in a work environment. The assessment includes information about a wide variety of jobs. In our review sessions, juniors can explore careers they have never considered. While some students are surprised to find careers like "farmer" listed on their Strong profiles – and that may sound unfamiliar to the ears of an urban teenager – in our review sessions, they gain an understanding of a farmer's activities and responsibilities that overlap with the activities they too enjoy – for example, working with their hands, being outside, and practicality.
The MBTI and the Strong Interest Inventory serve Lakeside's goal of helping students understand themselves better. From our perspective as counselors, the better you know yourself, the better choices you can make for yourself. This is particularly important for our students who are beginning to prepare for their lives after Lakeside!
For parents and guardians of juniors and seniors, we encourage you to ask your student about their results – and maybe share your results if you've taken these or similar assessments. It may even help your family find new ways of communicating and relating to each other as your students moves into adulthood.
Julie Lutton is an Upper School counselor. Reach her at 206-440-2928. Learn more about Lakeside's student and family support program – including learning specialists, tutors, and mental-health counselors. Services are free and available to all students and families.