If you are not a freshman, you probably don’t remember any of the tests students are required to take upon entering the University of Tampa, specifically the StrengthsFinder Assessment.
This assessment is a simple way for students to find their top strengths so they can apply them in academics, picking a major or their future job search. If you don’t feel like analyzing the results, you can set up a one-on-one coaching session through the Academic Success Center.
“By finding out what people do best, we can help them find the environments that allow them to excel, and they will be more engaged, less stressed, more motivated, more optimistic and more confident,” said Dr. Lorie Kittendorf, Director of Student Transition and Persistence in the Academic Success Center.
“Since Fall 2012, the StrengthsFinder assessment has been offered to all incoming freshmen, both Fall and Spring admittance. At this point, more than 5,000 students have completed the assessment,” Kittendorf said.
The “Strengths@UT” page on the university’s website describes this assessment as a way to “help you obtain and understand your Top Five Talent Themes and how you can positively develop them to maximize your potential.” The assessment has 34 different talent themes that are measured by patterns found in your answers that help discover your hidden talents and strengths as an individual that you might not have noticed before.
I remember taking this assessment, but I never took advantage of the results and how they could help guide my college career and beyond. I don’t even remember my results. I didn’t really care about it then, but now I see how it could be of use.
I believe that the assessment would be more beneficial for upperclassmen, or even sophomores after they have had a year to settle into college. By knowing what your top five strengths are, you use these to see where your strong suits are and match them with your future goals. When you are an upperclassmen, it is useful to know your strengths and be able to apply them, especially when interviewing for jobs. This is the perfect way to answer the “what are your tops strengths” question that I know I struggled with at first. It is difficult to pick out your top strengths on your own but this assessment does it for you and I found it to be completely accurate when I recently took it myself.
The potential of the survey is huge, but students have to be interested in it first before it can be a success. Unless you are forced to take it as an incoming freshman or go in to the Academic Success Center and ask about it, chances are you probably don’t know about this assessment or even how to access it.
“We are in the process of revamping the program for the future … rather than engaging the entire freshman class, we will focus on smaller populations so we can more effectively assess the impact,” Kittendorf said.
I think the more effective way to promote the StrengthsFinder assessment would be to have counselors discuss it with students before they clear them for registration once a semester. Since this is a requirement for all students to do, it seems like a better way to have more students take it. Making it a mandatory item for freshmen to take through Gateways doesn’t seem like the best idea. When you first enter college, an assessment like this might not seem as important, although it should be. Upperclassmen may recognize the importance and be able to see why it is helpful. Aiming for smaller populations of students will give them time to understand the assessment and hopefully improve the odds that students will continue to use the results throughout their college careers.
Katie Drake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.