Preparing for College

A Quick Quiz And A Question

In my college admissions counseling work, one of the key issues I face is how to get these young people to know who they are and how they think. Of course, they may think they know who they are, but few are directly aware of why they think the way that they do. This awareness of self-identity is a crucial tool when they are presenting themselves to their prospective colleges. I have developed a two-step process for dealing with this. I call it “a quick quiz and a question."

Here's the assignment I give:

I would like to get to know you better. Thus, this little exercise should help me do that.

First, the “quiz." It won't take long at all and I think you'll enjoy it. Please go to click through the 72 questions on that page. This will take only a few minutes. Honest!

Note: Please don't spend a long time pondering your answers. Just go with your immediate gut reaction for each one. This will render a more accurate result. When you're done, click “Score it!" and then copy and paste the results page (please include the “preference" numbers that appear for each of the four letters) and send it to me. After I see that, I'll send you some profiling information that I think you'll find fascinating.

Second, here's a short question I'd like you to answer for me. Please be as honest as possible. Don't tell me what you think I want to hear, but, rather, exactly what's in your heart. Be as brief or expansive as you wish. (This is a variation of a one-time Princeton University application essay prompt.) Here goes:

– What is your true passion? If you could spend a full year doing any one thing, what would that one thing be?

(Again, even if you would say, “Sitting on a beach playing 'ing' on my iPad," that would be fine by me. I'm just trying to dig for what most passionately interests you.)

Okay. That's my Quick Quiz & Question assignment. There's no rush on this. Take your time and get to it when you have a chance. This will kick off our essay work.

Once I get the results of the quiz, I send some deeper detail to the students. Here are some examples of that.

Thanks very much for doing the questionnaire. Your personality preferences are quite strong and clear.

Your “temperament" (the two letters “N" & “F") make you a so-called “Idealist." Let me explain.

First of all, please know that this information is not part of your college admissions process. However, it is helpful for you to learn more about who you are and why you do and think the things that you do. So, if you're too busy with other aspects of your busy life, please feel free to ignore this stuff. No problem at all.

I'll try to keep this as simple as possible. First, here is a link that will give you some background on personality type and temperament: Go here for an overview and then . . .

– Under “The Idealists," click on “ENFJ" and read the profile. Does this sound like you?

– Finally, go to Google and type in the letters ENFJ and check some of the links that come up. This will give you some further understanding about yourself.

Again, this is just optional information for your enlightenment. I think you'll see that your plan for your life's work is in sync with your personality and temperament. This is excellent news for you, although you are certainly free to change course at any time. By the way, I'm a strongly preferred INFJ (like you but not as talkative :-) ).

Here's some feedback I gave to another student:

Thanks for sending this. I liked your statement. It tells me more about you and your life.

As for your “four letters," since you have relatively low scores on F and J, I'd like you to consider an alternate profile. First, explore the links on this Google page to read about the ESFJ personality:,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.47008514,d.dmg&fp=e3ce2462b5200397&biw=1024&bih=605

Next, read some of the profile information about the ESTP personality, which would be the alternate:,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.47008514,d.dmg&fp=e3ce2462b5200397&biw=1024&bih=605

Then, think about the differences, and let me know which sounds more like you.

Finally, if you really want to dig deep into comparing possible variants of your original ESFJ results, search Google for the letters ESTJ and ESFP to see if those profiles ring any bells. This is an optional exercise so don't be too concerned about it. It's good to understand ourselves, though. :-)

Thanks! I'll be in touch.

Try this quick quiz yourself to see if the results can help you discover who you are.

As for my “Question" …

Here are some interesting responses:

My true passion is programming for a worthy goal, but as a team. I enjoy working as part of a team that works well together, so that ideas can be processed and refined as a whole and a task becomes a social event rather than an introverted experience. Furthermore, programming is my favorite activity. I love breaking down a process logically and having to follow a set of guidelines to communicate an idea to the computer, while still being very creative in my methods. It becomes that much more exciting when I can apply mathematics to the process and I have to develop my own algorithms or research complex algorithms and heuristics. I find myself bored when I cannot challenge my mind and put it to new goals. The same can be said if my goals have little impact. My code does not have to be part of the next space shuttle launch, but I want my work to impact other people and not to be part of an insignificant iPhone game. If I could be put on a team of programmers and mathematicians that are working towards a common and important goal, I would be happy for more than a number of years.


It didn't take me long to answer your question. My passion is conversation. That is the first thing that came to my mind. If I could talk with people (I say talk with because I don't just like to talk; I also like to listen) for a year straight, I would. It could be a peer, a child, an adult, anyone. I love to hear people's stories and tell them mine. My dad is always yelling at me because I have deep conversations on the phone with people for three and four hours at a time. I have fun watching movies, or eating dinner, going to parties, etc. with my friends, but I have even more fun talking about the experience afterward. I like to talk both with people I know well and strangers alike. I think that conversations have taught me more than I have learned in school, and I love to learn. They have opened my mind, given me new perspectives, and made me love life. The more people talk with me, the more I want to talk. That is my passion.

One more:

My passion is mixed. Though I'm thinking about pursuing math and science, I love music and sports, and i want to join clubs and other extracurriculars that pertain to them. I love to listen to Korean music, and that has inspired me to sing and dance more for the fun of it because the songs and dances are so lively. It allows me to have fun and give me somewhat an exercise when I dance for fun. I have been playing sports for majority of my life, and I love playing soccer and badminton. It taught me so many new skills and allowed me to meet the amazing new people in my team. I love the adrenaline from playing sports, and I love the feeling when I've done a good job.


What this exercise gives me is the information I need to best communicate with my clients, according to their personality types and temperaments. This also has a lot to do with their learning styles and promptness (or lateness) of their responses to my questions and assignments.

The “passion" statement also offers me some key insights into what might make a good Common Application essay for them. Writing about subjects that inspire a fire in one's belly can be an exciting experience and say a lot about who you are and how you think. After all, that's the purpose of college application essays.

Try the Humanmetrics questionnaire and see if it can offer you any insights into what kinds of life preferences lurk inside of you. Also try writing the answer to my “Question." You may be surprised at what comes off your keyboard, as long as you write what you want to say, not what you think others what to hear. Good luck!


Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles on College Confidential.