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First-Years Feel Their Strengths

Students entering St. Norbert College this fall come with the advantage of a little more information about themselves and their talents.

Over the summer, the college offered all members of the Class of 2017 the opportunity to take the StrengthsQuest assessment free of charge. This 30-minute online tool helps people better identify their top strengths: qualities categorized by type that include Achiever, Arranger, Communicator, Developer and even Woo – the ability to win others over. StrengthsQuest generates a report that outlines ways students can use their talents to achieve success in their studies, professional and personal life.

Ninety-three percent of incoming first-year students chose to take part, says Mandy Nycz (Career Services). “Recognizing and embracing our strengths is really a cultural change. We’re stepping away from talking about what’s wrong with you to what are you good at?” Nycz says. “We want students to embrace their strengths.”

Insights into action
Matt Klug ’17 took a similar test in high school and welcomed the opportunity to take it again. He appreciated how StrengthsQuest not only identified his strengths, but also provided full descriptions of the different qualities.

“I always knew I was individualistic and responsible but StrengthsQuest provided me with other strengths, as well as ways to use these strengths at their fullest potential,” he says. StrengthsQuest helped him most with putting his best traits into words so that when he enters a situation or group project, he knows exactly what he can offer and how to articulate it. 

When Stephanie Blumer ’17 first saw the email from St. Norbert about the assessment, she admits she didn’t know what to think. After taking it, however, she definitely sees its value. “I understand now that the strengths can play an important role in what jobs you might want to do in the future,” she says.

She was amazed at how spot-on her results were. “I remember reading though the paragraphs on the results, where it kind of says a little bit about what you're probably like because of the strengths you got, and everyone was like ‘Wow, this is so true!’ ” she says.

A conversation worth having
Career Services has offered StrengthsQuest on request for several years. It has proven a helpful tool to students preparing for interviews, as well as for those deciding on a career or figuring out which classes to take. The Class of 2017, however, is the first class to take the survey en masse, ahead of their arrival on campus.

Nycz says, “We wanted to offer it to all the freshmen, not only as a chance to engage the incoming class right away in discussion, but also to give them a common language about their strengths.” 

The Career Services team first shared the idea with the incoming class at summer orientation. They invited parents to take the survey, too, as a way to open a dialogue with their children. 

“They could then talk about their own strengths and share that information with their sons or daughters, as a way to get them to talk about their strengths and what it all means,” says Nycz. “This is really about getting a conversation started and providing a common language of how we discuss personal strengths. We really view ourselves as partnering with parents in helping their children identify their strengths."

Once the students arrived on campus, Nycz offered several sessions where they could learn more about the implications of their results: “We did this on a Saturday and were impressed with how many students we had come in. We got a lot of positive feedback from students.”

The StrengthsQuest tool is not just for students. Career Services has shared the program with several on-campus departments and has also offered it to all academic advisers.

Oct. 1, 2013