Preparing for College

Personality Types and Temperaments

There are billions of people in the world.  Even so, there are amazing similarities among them.  Modern psychological research has produced a classification system that assigns all of us into one of four basic temperaments, which leads to one of 16 personality types.  So what does this mean to you?

As a high school student, you may have already discovered that you gravitate toward some tasks or situations more easily than others.  This relates to your temperament and personality. Have you ever heard someone say, "Alice has the right temperament for that job."?  That means the person and the job have a good fit.  They just seem to go together naturally.


Knowing who you are can go a long way in helping you understand what path you may want to follow through college.  How can you find out more about who you are?  Probably the best book on the subject is Please Understand Me written by David Kiersey and Marilyn Bates.

This little paperback contains a self-test called the Kiersey Temperament Sorter that will detect which of four main temperament types you are.  David Kiersey, a great pioneer of temperament theory, dramatically extended the work done in that area by the noted Swiss psychologist Carl Jung.

The theory says that all of us display one of four temperaments: Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rational.  Each has its own core values and behavior.  Preferences also play a big part in each temperament.  These preferences often determine which career path will prove most rewarding and successful for each of us.

Here are some very simplified guidelines about temperament and careers.  Artisans prefer careers where there is some risk involved and where they can make an impact: actors, performers, surgeons, athletes, stunt people, artists, and so forth.  Guardians love to guard the welfare of the social unit and are frequently fond of police work, elementary teaching, security work, nursing, and related health services.

Idealists are big on meaning and significance and helping others become what they need to be.  They like the ministry, counseling, psychology, social work, writing, and college teaching.   Rationals have a hunger for knowledge and control over nature.  They like to be lawyers, architects, college professors, scientists, economists, and philosophers.

Take the time to find out who you are now.  It can save you much stress and money later when the meter starts running in college.

Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.