Colleges and universities face an enormous amount of pressure to demonstrate value and prepare students for the real world. Likewise, students are under a different (but related) kind of pressure to blaze their own trail and get to the next milestone. But that’s easier said than done for some Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) personality types.
We recently revealed the four personality types that are least likely to graduate college — ESTP, ESFP, ENTP and ENFP. It’s a nuanced topic, but here’s the main issue: not all students understand why they’re in college.
Sure, they know college is one step on their road to a career, but there’s a deeper sense of purpose and alignment that’s often missing. (Much of this can be applied to the workforce too. When an employee or leader understands why they’re in a particular role or industry, it’s easier for them to stay committed and engaged.)
The preferred learning styles of these types don’t match the traditional instruction models of higher education. Think of a typical class lecture where the professor talks for an hour straight. If you’re easily distracted or prefer hands-on learning, you might feel stifled in this setting. To succeed, those four MBTI types (and all types, honestly) need to experience a greater sense of purpose, different teaching styles, and campus involvement that aligns with their preferences.
The MBTI can tell us a lot about what a person’s college experience could be like – which is why it’s important for academic advisors, professors, and career counselors to use it as a tool for student development. If student success and persistence are important, the MBTI can offer some clarity about how to meet them where they’re at.
What are the learning styles of ESTP, ESFP, ENTP, and ENFP personality types?
In the first post about student persistence, we covered how different MBTI types can garner a sense of purpose while in college. Now we’ll explore teaching style and campus involvement. Research from Astin and Tinto points to the need for different kinds of instruction to address different learning styles. In turn, this affects students’ involvement in the campus community – whether that’s through extracurricular activities (i.e., clubs) or student support services (i.e., tutoring, skills labs). Let’s look at the learning styles and needs of the four MBTI types least likely to graduate:
For an ESTP, learning is meaningful when:
- It's active and hands-on
- Expectations are clear and feedback is efficient
- Professors are straightforward and businesslike
- There are sequential “how to” steps with real-life applications
In the classroom or on campus, ESTP students need:
- Clearly stated goals and timelines
- Evidence that the process works
- Practical solutions to problems
- To be actively involved
For an ESFP, learning is meaningful when:
- It’s active and collaborative
- Expectations are clear and feedback is personal
- Professors are friendly and available to help
- There are sequential “how to” steps with personal applications
In the classroom or on campus, ESFP students need:
- Practical solutions for their immediate needs
- Access to helpful information and resources
- To feel like they matter
- Group interaction
For an ENTP, learning is meaningful when:
- It’s active and makes room for debate or exploration of different ideas
- Out-of-the-box thinking and experimentation are encouraged
- Professors are grounded in theory and research
- There are intellectual challenges to solve
In the classroom or on campus, ENTP students need:
- Interdisciplinary activities that are intellectually stimulating
- Freedom to argue and debate various possibilities
- Non-traditional ways to solve problems
- Lively group interaction
For an ENFP, learning is meaningful when:
- It’s active and allows opportunities for collaborative input
- Personal growth and self-expression are prioritized
- Professors are creative and personal
- Creativity is encouraged
In the classroom or on campus, ENFP students need:
- Unique experiences that are personally empowering
- Help bringing their personal vision to reality
- Opportunities to explore possibilities
- Lively group interaction
For ESTPs and ESFPs, learning isn’t meaningful when it involves too much sitting still, out-of-the-box thinking, hypothetical challenges, research, experimentation, conceptual creativity, and self-expression.
For ENTPs and ENFPs, learning isn’t meaningful when it emphasizes memorization, repetition, sequential steps, structure, efficiency, practical applications, measurable outcomes, and individual reflection.
This doesn’t mean that these four MBTI types should always avoid learning styles they dislike. After all, exposure and adaptation to differences is part of life. It just means certain types of instruction aren’t immediately engaging to students who need active, real-life, personal applications. And when the first two years of general education courses are delivered in a certain way (often counter to what these four types prefer), it doesn’t bode well for their success.
Colleges and universities can use the MBTI to increase student success
When students understand how their personality preferences impact their college experiences, they’re in a better position to graduate. And face the world that awaits them. When colleges and universities implement the MBTI into student advisement, it helps uncover natural learning styles and offers clarity into which courses, majors, or activities will make the most impact. In a world filled with enough pressure, it’s the confidence boost and value-add students and institutions need.
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