My freshman year of college, I received the book Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath as a gift from my parents. My mom was required to read it and take the accompanying strengths assessment for work, and she thought it would be beneficial for me, too. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my strengths were, but I took the assessment anyway. I’m glad I did—I was completely surprised! The assessment gives you your “Signature Themes,” a “Strengths Insight Report” and an “Action Planning Guide.” It turned out that my top 5 themes (or strengths) were Competition, Achiever, Harmony, Responsibility, and Deliberative. Okay…what does this mean? How can I use this in my daily life? After reading through the descriptions of each of my strengths, different portions stood out to me as applicable to my life as a college student. I went through the reflection questions, thinking about how I could use my strengths to add value to a group project or a team at work. The Action Planning Guide includes a section with ideas for applying your strengths to your life, which I used to develop a more specific action plan for myself. For example, since I am very competitive, it could be useful for me to measure my progress when I am studying or working on a project, rewarding myself along the way. I could also set achievable goals, knowing that I will work hard to reach them.

I know that many college students have not actively thought about their strengths. Take some time to either complete the StrengthsQuest assessment, or to reflect on what you think your strengths are. Then, think about specific ways you can use your particular strengths to your advantage—in your classes, work, extracurriculars, and personal life. Develop an action plan for yourself to continue to build upon and utilize your strengths in your daily life. Knowing and actively utilizing your strengths can help you to be more successful in all of your endeavors; it certainly worked for me!

For more information about Strengths Finder 2.0 or StrengthsQuest, click here.

Nicole Maher is from Perrysburg, Ohio. She is a senior at The Ohio State University studying Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. This is her second term on the NLC, her first term as Executive Vice President, and she is so excited to have the opportunity to use the ideas and feedback from her chapter to continue to help make NSCS an even better organization. She is a Resident Advisor and helping others is one of her passions. She is the 2011-2012 VP of Public Relations for her NSCS chapter at tOSU, and she loves to volunteer. She has participated in three alternative break trips with Ohio State, and they have been some of the most meaningful experiences she has had thus far in college. She studied abroad in Australia in the summer of 2011 and loves to travel to new places. Nicole is looking forward to a great year with the NLC, and she is excited to meet and share ideas with everyone!