Self Assessment

The following questions are intended to guide you in making this self-assessment, and discussing the answers with your parents, teachers, Envision counselor, and mentors will help you to match your talents, needs, and ability with the right college.

Your Goals & Values
  • What aspects of your high school (secondary school) you enjoyed the most?  
  • How do you define success?  
  • What kind of person would you like to become?  
  • Is there anything you have secretly wanted to do or be?  
  • What events or experiences have shaped your growth and way of thinking?

  • What aspect of your High School classroom experience have you found most rewarding?
  • Which courses have you enjoyed most?  Which have been most difficult? What areas of study would you like to try in colleges which were not available in high school?
  • What do you choose to learn when you can learn on your own?  Consider topics chosen for research papers and independent projects, independent reading, school activities, job or volunteer work. How do these choices reflect your interests and the way you like to learn?
  • How do you learn best?  What methods of teaching engage your interest and effort the most? Do you prefer structure and clear expectations, or lots of leeway for creativity and interpretation? Do you profit most from a lecture format, small group discussion, reading text on your own or doing hands-on projects?
  • What has been your most stimulating intellectual experience in recent years?  How interested are you in the substance of intellectual life: books, ideas, issues and discussion? What is your attitude toward studying-enthusiasm, toleration, avoidance?
  • Are there any outside circumstances (in your recent experience or background) which have interfered with your academic performance?  Consider such factors as: after-school job, home responsibilities or difficulties, excessive school activities, illness or emotional stress, parental pressure, English not spoken at home, course scheduling conflicts, or other factors which are unique to you.

Your Activities & Interests 
  • What activities have claimed your time outside the daily routine of school and other responsibilities?  Which have meant the most to you?  Looking back, would you have made different choices?
  • Do your activities show any pattern of commitment, competence or contribution?  What do you consider your most significant contribution?
  • How would others describe your role in your school or home community?  
  • What are your favorite ways to spend free time?  How would you spend an uncommitted Saturday?

The World Around You
  • How would you describe your High School?  How has this environment encouraged you to develop your interests, talents and abilities? How about when taking intellectual risks? What would you preserve or change about your High school if you had the power to do so?
  • How would you describe your family?  Your home town?  How have these influenced your way of thinking and your goals?  How have your interests and abilities been nurtured or limited?
  • What was a recent controversy at your High School or in your community?  Did you become involved?  What is your opinion about the issue and about how it was handled?
  • When have you encountered people who thought and acted differently than you did?  What viewpoints have challenged you the most?  How did you respond?  What did you learn about yourself and others?
  • What is an issue (school, local, world, ethical, etc.) you feel particularly strongly about?  Assuming the obligation and opportunity to change the world, where would you start?

Your Personality and Relationships
  • How would someone who knows you well describe you?  Your finest qualities?  
  • Your most conspicuous shortcomings?  How have you grown or changed during your high school years?
  • Which relationships are most important to you and why? In what ways are they similar to or different from you?
  • What is your social style?  Do you prefer solitude, one-on-one, small groups, large parties?  Do you see yourself more as an initiator, follower, or in-between?
  • How do you respond to pressure, competition or challenge?  How important is recognition, praise, moral support?  How do you react to failure, disappointment or criticism?
  • How do you feel about choices and making decisions for yourself?  What are the best decisions you have made recently?  Which would you do differently?  How much do you rely on direction, advice or guidance from others?  Do you prefer the tried-and-true or the new-and-intriguing?

Investigating Colleges

You and your Envision counselor, in conjunction with your family and teachers, will discuss the answers to many of the questions above and then embark upon the process of identifying colleges that might best fit your needs. In order for you and your family to get the most information possible about colleges under consideration, you need to look beyond the traditional information provided by the schools themselves. Viewbooks and websites are both good places to begin your search, but they only go so far in presenting the full picture of any college or university. To begin, ask yourself the following fundamental questions about the type of community in which you would like to spend the next four years: 
  • What type of environment do you like best? Urban, rural or suburban? Does the college have a self-contained campus or is the campus part of the city? Is the college close to a major city? Transportation? Cultural opportunities? 
  • Would you feel better about a small liberal arts college or large, comprehensive university?  Somewhere in between?
  • Where is the best location for you? East Coast? South? West? Midwest? Are you and your parents in agreement on the question of distance?
  • Would you be served best by a service academy? An art or music college? A college or university overseas? A school with religious foundations?
  • Which schools offer the major or fields of study in which you are interested?

After you’ve considered the questions above, look at individual colleges with the following questions in mind:
  • What is the college’s mission? 
  • How is the college unique? 
  • What is the average class size for introductory or general education courses taken by the first and second year students? (As opposed to the overall “student-faculty ratio.”)
  • Who teaches first-year students? What percentage of intro courses is taught by professors, rather than grad school assistants? 
  • Are classes conducted in lectures or seminar? 
  • How much time do professors set aside for office hours? Is each student assigned a personal advisor? What is the frequency of contact between the student and his or her advisor? 
  • Does the college guarantee on-campus housing for first year students? 
  • What fields of study are well recognized or distinctive in terms of their nature or content of their courses? 
  • Is there a study abroad option? 
  • Is there an honors program?
  • What is the academic calendar like?  Is there an opportunity for summer study?
  • What kinds of leadership opportunities are available? Does the school offer internships or co-op programs? 
  • Do the residence halls offer educational programs? 
  • What kinds of services does the college offer in terms of career and graduate school counseling?