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The MBTI® ISTP Personality and College

Individuals who assess as the ISTP (Introverted-Sensing-Thinking-Perceiving) Personality Type may have varying levels of success in college, often depending on their ability to maximize their personality strengths while minimizing the consequences of their potential weaknesses. However, they generally analyze life with a detached curiosity and may have occasional, surprising flashes of humor. It is also common for them to dislike wasting energy, resulting in the exertion of themselves only when necessary. The valuable information they gather about the world tends to be organized inwardly and therefore, does not always get shared with the outside world. This is due to the fact that Introverted personality types not only gain energy from inside themselves, but also place their energy within as well. However, due to an ISTPs heightened Perceiving Function, students with this personality type often will want to become accustomed to and acclimate with their outer environment as well.

Learning Styles and Being Studious

ISTP Personality Type

Learn about ISTP Personality Types and how they function in College settings. Including an ISTPs major choice, how they handle stress and learning tactics.

The method of presenting information to students often changes dramatically between high school and college. To some ISTPs, this transition can be daunting. Students who reported as an ISTP Personality Type, generally prefer objective material, as well as a preference for instructors to present material with clarity. More often than not, an ISTP will learn this new material by devising logical categories for the information. Some ISTP students may have difficulty connecting with college instructors who do not share their same personality functions. ISTPs also generally prefer to study alone, making them less likely to widen their sourcing to find additional educational material or by gaining intellect from fellow students. Therefore, it is important for ISTPs to communicate any learning or study issues that may arise to their instructors or possibly even to a tutor. This communication may increase an ISTP’s chances of improvement if they find themselves falling behind. Generally, this personality type will absorb the most information if they are allowed a chance to reflect on what they have just learned, as opposed to having a pop quiz directly after learning new content. When learning, an ISTP may look for specific details within assigned reading and are often able to memorize those details with ease. Many individuals who share the ISTP Personality Type will prefer to have verifiable information as their basis of their coursework and typically place a high value on applicable matters. This personality type will typically have individuals who are guided by logic and generally are open to innovative ideas. It is common for ISTPs to enjoy learning by having a relaxed debate or to be challenged in a way which allows them to solve problems informally. When in debate, most ISTPs can easily find imperfections or irregularities in both their peer’s and their professor’s evidence. These individuals are also known to enjoy having the ability to take new ideas and to put their own visualization into them. ISTP Personality Types may not plan their work ahead and have been known to have spontaneous outbursts of energy when studying. However, during these outbursts they may have a meticulous method to work through their material which allows them to memorize as many facts as possible. “A possible disadvantage of this style, however, is that they may not see how the pieces fit together or lead to a general point or principle, which is often the very thing that their professor will ask them about.” (Ditiberio and Hammer, 1993, P. 9, CPP Inc.) In order to combat this innate behavior, an ISTP may need to practice skimming their assigned reading so that they may better find a pattern to the subject at hand. Doing so will help them to learn the meaning behind the facts they are learning.

When choosing their classes, an ISTP may seek out professors who have a reputation for being motivational or even captivating and humorous. This personality type generally will want their instructor to give assignments which are direct and straightforward as well as individuals who present information to them in a logical fashion. It is common for ISTPs to be overly trusting of their professor’s teachings and often will not question their presented facts. This personality type commonly will have no trouble following complex instructions but may prefer to have assignments which are more hands-on.

Reading and Writing

The ISTP Personality Type is known to have a preference for reading technical material relative to problem solving.  This is great for technical classes, but an ISTP needs to also ensure not to ignore reading that they might find boring by it being a little less factual. They should also learn to use their strengths of bringing order to unorganized facts.  Proper collegiate level writing can be difficult for all students, especially those sharing the ISTP Personality Type, as they may tend to mix their facts with their often natural witty intelligence. It can be helpful for individuals with this personality type to add real life examples to their pieces and to delete all but the necessary facts when revising their papers. Due to an ISTPs elevated Sensing Function, these individuals typically will write using many adjectives because they generally use their five senses more so than a student with a heightened Intuitive Function would.

The typical writing approach which ISTPs have reported to assist with combating writer’s block are to:

Write from ideas                                                                                             Strive for objectivity

Jot down ideas before writing                                                                      Provide reader with logical organization

Pause to think ahead while writing                                                             Critically analyze an argument

Find quiet to concentrate without interruptions                                     Guided by criteria for a “Competent” product

Report factual information                                                                          Keep topic options open and flexible

Follow a format that worked before                                                           Let deadlines motivate completion

Attend to instructions and mechanics                                                       Let multiple projects overlap

Say it clearly, simply, and directly                                                              Extensive search for related facts or ideas

*Abstracted from Introduction to Type in College (Ditiberio and Hammer, 1993, CPP Inc. P.8)

College Direction and Major Choice

Students sharing the ISTP personality type have a reputation for being indecisive when choosing their college major. These individuals typically enjoy investigating their career and college major options and may do so for extended periods of time. Even after they have made a selection, they are likely to be unsure of their decision. However, during this process, an ISTP may weigh their options based on facts and on the consequences of choosing each. This personality type generally will tend to do so by looking at each option separately and narrowing their possible future a little at a time. They may take a little longer to decide because they innate tendency to want to keep their options open. ISTPs tend to want to be able to experience anything new they may come in contact with, so it may be stressful for them to settle on something. Additionally, Introverted-Perceiving Types may also challenge deadlines demanded by others. In order for them to move forward, they need reassurance that they are able to change their decisions at any time. “ISTPs are among “the wanderers of career decision making. A career path for them is a never-ending quest for more knowledge, facts, or inspiration.” (Ditiberio and Hammer, 1993, P 5, CPP Inc.)

Taking a college major assessment can help an ISTP narrow their options and speed their decision-making process. ISTP Personality Types tend to seek college majors and subsequent career paths that lead to stable and secure futures.  An ISTP is likely to be interested in majors such as:

  • Management/Business
  • Accounting/Banking
  • Law Enforcement
  • Engineering
  • Skilled Trades

*Abstracted from Introduction to Type in College (Ditiberio and Hammer, 1993, CPP Inc. P.5)

ISTP Personality Types are often also found in careers such as Economics, Marketing, Applied Science, Statistics, and Securities.

Stress Management

The ISTP Personality Type has a number of innate tendencies that may lead to unnecessary stress. For example, this personality type may have an unwillingness to exert excessive energy, which can lead to the underestimation of the amount of time required for a particular project. This is partially offset by their innate ability to be naturally calm in the face of crises and their tendency to naturally think things through before acting. It has been known that when proper time management skills are added to an ISTPs regimen, this stress can be minimized. ISTPs often tend to keep important thoughts to themselves which can lead to strained social relationships. It is important that those who assess with the ISTP personality type communicate their feelings to others in a direct fashion. They may also need to take extra initiative to invite friends to join them in activities, because an ISTPs natural tendencies may not make it clear to others that they may want company. This personality type has been known to become stressed when they are forced to work under strict rules or restrictions or when they are given assignments which they may find to be senseless or inconsistent with their coursework. They also will not be pleased in an environment which has instructors who come off as unprofessional or unqualified for their position. However, ISTPs will also avoid confrontation and will often not inform their professor if they are having these feelings. In order to cope with stressors related to college, it is important for an ISTP to find time to spend alone and recharge their energy. They may need to separate themselves from a situation where their peers are being confrontational, such as a quarrel between roommates. Most ISTPs will use physical exercise as a means of coping with their stress, but having multiple outlets for stress management is important for all personality types.


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Learn More About the MBTI ISTP Personality Type

Explore additional information that delves deeper into the ISTP Personality Type by examining various personality and career based subjects:

Click on a link below to read more about different MBTI Personality Types


Assessment Categories



All College-based information was taken from the following publication: (Ditiberio and Hammer, 1993, CPP Inc.)

In the Grip. Understanding Type, Stress, and The Inferior Function (Quenk, N. 2000. CPP)