Career Connector

Should You Change Your Major to Agree with Your Myers-Briggs Type?

Penelope Trunk’s blog post today on what college students should do now offers some great wisdom. But the one tip that really caught my eye was her suggestion to take a Myers-Briggs test to understand what you’re good at. She also suggests that if your score doesn’t agree with your chosen major, you should change it.

I applaud taking assessment tests as early as high school—they can provide some direction about a career path when little exists. I would, however, caution against jumping to immediate conclusions based on a test score. For example, the test Trunk cites is not an actual Myers-Briggs test, but an approximation. The good part is that you can take it online and it’s free; the bad part is that it may not reflect your most accurate results. In my case, for example, it gave me a different type than the actual MBTI I’ve taken in the past.

And as far as changing your major to suit your type? I would say that it very much depends. For example, if your major is pre-professional and your MBTI score doesn’t fit, you may want to consider making a change in the future. But I would gather more data first. You should gain some experience through internships, volunteer work and informational interviews before taking such a bold step.

If your major is not pre-professional, and your career path is under development, it may not matter anyway. Your career choice will likely evolve over time, and although your MBTI score can be informative this is not information that is black and white.

Check out my favorite book on the subject, called Do What You Are. It offers perspective and career advice for all of the MBTI types, so you can decide whether your score is accurate for you—or not.





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4 Responses to Should You Change Your Major to Agree with Your Myers-Briggs Type?

  1. Penelope Trunk’s take on this issue reflects the business communities’ obsession with metrics-based decision-making. While this approach is great for business, it should be used with caution in personal matters. When it comes to personal decisions, the MBTI (or approximations) are a nice way to learn something about yourself or to provide a starting point for further reflection. Using the MBTI as the ‘deal breaker’ in a big decision is just plain foolish.
    It would be great if there was a test that would tell a young adult what major he/she should take but there’s a good reason why there isn’t. Making big, tough, stressful decisions is part of becoming an adult. Perhaps the most important part of choosing one’s major is the fact that you made the decision yourself and that you alone will have to deal with the benefits and consequences.
    Great post Allison!

  2. Allison says:

    Hi Lindsay, my apologies for not seeing your comment earlier! As usual, your thinking is dead-on. If only there were a foolproof manual to help people figure out their ideal career–it would make all of our lives so much easier. I agree with you completely that these assessment tools are one piece of the big picture of who you are and what you should do with your life. Taken independently, they cannot be viewed as the “North Star” on which to base one’s major life decisions. Finding your ideal career is a messy business and can require years of experimentation to figure out. But of course, that’s also called “life”, which can’t be boiled down to simple solutions. Thank you as always for your insightful comments.

  3. Brownman says:

    I would not base a life decision on a test. Your college years are your only time spent to explore oneself. I made a rash decision based on an incorrect sub-type; regret that everyday of my life – managed to F up and repeat that a second time too. A career isn’t determined by types. Yes, there may be certain trends. But if you are different, follow your heart and do your research. Don’t do what a piece of paper tells you to do. Gather information through doing dozens of tests (similarminds is free with 60 scientific tests), go to forums to get perspective, talk to people – family, friends, cold call and email people in your chosen field (It’s much easier when you are in college and is a useful life skill; even easier in high school [Steve Jobs got his first parts by calling Bell’s CEO around 9th grade]), read online and even volunteer/intern if you can. Once you have all the data, trust your instincts and follow through. Remember – No one can decide your life except you.

  4. Allison says:

    I completely agree with you, and I applaud the additional steps you’ve taken to figure out what you wanted to do. I’d be curious to hear more detail about the mistake you made and what specifically happened-it’s always great to have real life stories. Thanks.

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