Parents and Students
People sometimes ask at what age a person should take the MBTI® and other assessment tools. While most folks can understand the questions at about age 14, it really depends on the individual. There is no simple answer that will fit all situations. However, here are some times when you could take the MBTI:
- Before going off to college. The MBTI will help you understand what areas of study might appeal to you. There are also handy books on how to improve your study habits, based on your type. I would caution students not to use their personality type for picking a major or deciding on a college. I think it's best for those students who are told by teachers and parents that they SHOULD study medicine or computers, or whatever else, and the student doesn't share that desire. The MBTI will help those students realize that what others think is best for them may not be true. Your personality type will reveal more about your strengths and potential weaknesses than the "experts" can. The Strong Interest Inventory ® can be quite helpful in this regard. Be sure to look at the college report here.
- When you're in college. It would be most helpful if you are struggling with a major you chose early in your college career, but has turned out to be less interesting or appealing than you thought it would be. This follows my theme that most personality inventories are good for showing you why things are the way they are, rather than for pushing you in a certain direction. In college, you might study computer science because you think you'll get a good job and make lots of money. There's nothing wrong with that. However, if you discover that computers really don't interest you as much as you thought, I believe the MBTI can show you why not. I also believe that most of us have the answer inside. We may be afraid to admit it, or think our parents won't approve. With the information from the MBTI, we can understand that others feel the same way, and that it's okay to choose something else. You might discover there are far more people like you than you originally suspected.
- When you are finishing college and looking for a job. At this point, you might think it's too late. On the contrary. You now have the opportunity to put your talents to good use. Knowing your personality type will help you make better career choices. It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of getting ANY job. Taking some time to really consider what YOU want can pay off again and again over the years. Sometimes it can be hard to do what's best for yourself, particularly when friends and family are encouraging you to do something else. You'll know when it happens: you'll get that funny feeling in your stomach that things aren't quite right. The MBTI can help you understand why that is. It won't make decisions for you. It will give you information to back up your feelings. You will likely want to take the Strong as well. In such cases, I recommend you get the combined package here.
- A Special Note for Parents: I disagree with parents "encouraging" their children to choose a certain college, major, or career. There's even a name for it in psychology: the Yale Effect. Basically, my view is it's best to leave the children alone. Like learning to ride a bicycle, you can't do it for them. Yes, your children might make poor choices, and yes, you might be able to save them some heartaches, but your efforts are unlikely to succeed. I believe you have to let them go and trust things will work out. It might be hard for you to stand by while your child stumbles now and then, but you and they will be better off for it in the long run, in my view. This is especially challenging for parents who are hard-charging, Type-A people who have a child who shows little enthusiasm for any school subject or career. If your child is indecisive, no amount of pressure will change that.