By: Paratum Scholars and Let’s Go to College CA

Discovering “You” & Determining Your Core Values

Discovering who “you” are doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life.  High school students change their minds often; don’t worry–college students do too. In the context of the college search and application process, discovering “you” means diving into one’s self and asking what social, academic, and financial components are important to you at this time and how these factors correlate to the different colleges that you may be considering.  Ask yourself: 

  • Do you see yourself in small places with your peers and professors, or are you looking forward to constantly seeing new faces at a large campus?
  • Are you seeking an environment where your peers challenge you academically, or do you prefer a more collaborative, laid-back culture?  
  • Are you the type of student who wants to make your mark by playing an integral role in many different areas on campus, or are you more comfortable being a participant and not committing fully to any one particular area?  

There is no right or wrong answer here, however, these are the values you need to focus first as you begin researching where you will be applying to for college.  

The “Perfect College” does not exist

  • You will soon discover that there is no such thing as the “perfect college”, and as you continue to research, you will learn that one school may check off many items on your “must-have” list, but not everything that is important to you.
  • As you identify these important things and what colleges can offer, it is important to narrow down your values to a set of three-to-four core-values. These core-values are aspects important to you in your college search that you will never waiver on when determining your final college list. Ultimately, you will know if your list is right for you if every single school on your list should share most, if not all, of your core-values.

The College Essay Podcast: “Episode: 109: How to Figure Out Which School is Right for You with Dr. Steven Antonoff”

Being in the college search and application process requires so much self-introspection, it is important for you, the high school student, to take significant time during your junior and senior years’ reflection on your high school experience and what you have taken away from it up until this point. 

Certain questions you may ask yourself:

  • What have you liked/disliked about high school
  • What areas do you excel in or are you passionate about 
  • Who challenges you or what problems do you want to fix in this world

Colleges want to know what makes you unique, know about your experiences and how it has shaped you moving towards this new and exciting chapter in your life. What you discover about yourself will most certainly help you when it is time to research colleges and curate your final draft. 

This episode on the College Essay Podcast by Steven Antonoff can be found here

Where Do I Start?

Corsava is a free platform for high school students that allows you to build a clear path and take ownership of your college journey.  

  • You will discover what’s important to you by first performing a virtual card sort, which is a fun, interactive way to discover your deeper college preferences.  
  • After the card sort, you will be given your own personalized Corsava report. This provides a great visual representation of specific values that are important to you.
  • Your Corsava list can be modified at any time and it is encouraged you do to readdress values important to you as you continue to grow and develop in high school. Corsava can also assist you in generating a list of colleges based on your Corsava report that aligns with your values.  
  • In short, Corsava is a recommended tool to begin this self-exploration process because it allows you to make a more informed decision about your college based on what is important to you.  

Personality Tests

These can help you learn more about strengths and weaknesses, plus preferences in your personal and professional lives which can definitely be interesting and intriguing. 

  • Remember, these tests are never 100% accurate, however, they are a snapshot of what your personality may look like at the time you take it.  Personalities continue to grow and evolve until the age of 25-27 so approach it as a fun exercise.  Rest assured, the results will not predict or determine your destiny.
  • It is not recommended that you pay money for a personality test considering all of the free resources on the Internet. A free resource recommended is “16 Personalities”.  

Remember, self-awareness requires taking the time to dive into yourself and identify what is important to you and why.  By doing this, not only will you be able to make more thoughtful decisions on why a particular institution may be a good fit for you, but also why it is important for you to invest your time and energy into that particular application process. 

About Paratum Scholars 

Chuck Liddiard is the Founder and Executive Director of The Paratum Scholars, a 501c(3) non-profit whose vision is to empower students to discover their college, their passion and their path.  Learn more about The Paratum Scholars and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn