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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When do J and P preferences choose a major?

Written by Catherine Rains

One of my favorite ways of “guessing” whether someone has a preference for Judging or Perceiving is to ask them WHEN in their college career did they choose their major. Often times, people with a preference for Judging will say they chose before they went to college or by the end of the first semester of their Freshmen year. They need that decision to be made and checked off their list so they can get on with the business of completing the coursework required to graduate in 4 years or less. Perceiving preferences, on the other hand, will often say they chose at the drop dead date for choosing a major, usually at the end of their sophomore year.

This is an ALMOST full proof way of identifying someone with a Perceiving preference, unless something in the Perceiver’s world pressured, encouraged, and/or nudged them to choose earlier. Most Perceivers will say they were “forced” to choose, and even when they did choose, they didn’t consider it a final decision. Much more often than Judging preferences, Perceivers are willing to change majors to something quite different than the original major. For example, they might choose Biology and then switch to Business, and then switch to Philosophy, hence losing credits in the process and delaying graduation by a semester or two.

What can we do to support students with Perceiving preferences stick with their choice of a major? Stay tuned for next week’s article on this very topic!


  1. I teach college students. As a college student, I started off in English, later majored in Psych then switched to Philosophy. It took me five years to graduate. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Remember, the key aim of education is to foster learning and critical thinking skills. Having a second major and/or sampling a wide variety of courses broadens one's horizons which in turn can give a greater facility in dealing with diverse people and situations. I think the question shouldn't be "how do we get perceiving types to stick to their major" but "how do we create an environment where perceiving types can best combine their diverse interests?" Interdisciplinary majors, double majors and flexibility within core curricula may facilitate this.

  2. I think the question is actually a combination of both "how do we get perceiving types to stick to their major" AND "how do we create an environment where perceiving types can best combine their diverse interests?". I agree in the strategy for helping Perceving preference students to combine their varied interests, while also seeing the need from the college administration side to help these same students stick to their major so they can graduate. Since P’s are more likely to change majors, and take longer to graduate, they are also more at risk for dropping out because of losing credits through the change of major process, and possibly losing funding and/or motivation through the longer process as well. Since we know that Perceiver’s very often go into very different careers than what they majored in, helping them to commit and complete a major is very important as well.

  3. Sorry, that was not 'anonymous' it was Catherine Rains! :) Blogger has been buggy lately and hasn't let us post or approve comments for several weeks.