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New StrengthsQuest class to identify strengths of students

ATHENS, Ohio (April 10, 2007) -- During the first year of college, students often struggle with choosing a major. After all, it's supposed to be what their careers -- the rest of their lives -- are based on. 

To guide students who are part of the Office for Diversity scholarship programs at Ohio University, a spring quarter course has been designed to help them recognize their strengths and from there consider career options.

The book, "StrengthsQuest" will be the main material for the University College course. At the beginning of the quarter, students will take an assessment online that will determine what their top five strengths and talents are out of 34 total possibilities. 

"It's a course where students can determine what their strengths are, what they are good at individually," said Greta Oliver, assistant director for academic support and outreach in the Office for Diversity. She was the main coordinator for this course and the first two UC169 courses the students have taken.

Freshmen scholarship students who are under the direction of the President's Office for Diversity are required to take these courses. During fall quarter, they took a college adjustment course and in winter quarter, they completed a course on peer mentoring that was based on the book, "The Pact," a story about three African-American men from Newark, N.J., who decided at a young age that they would all become doctors. 

This spring, StrengthsQuest will move the focus of the learning to the individual. 

"Students will realize that everyone is talented. Everyone has something that they're good at," Oliver said.

The course uses the concept of positive psychology, which reinforces and utilizes strengths and talents," Oliver said. "Operate from a position of strength rather than weakness. We work from identifying those talents and what those talents even mean to how those particular talents and strengths can move a student forward, academically, socially and in later life."

As an instructor, Oliver took the StrengthsQuest assessment. One of her strengths is what the book calls an "achiever." No matter what obstacles there are, she achieves her goals. She sees evidence of that in her pursuit of something as simple as getting new drapes in her living room. But more importantly it applied in her pursuit of a Ph.D. as a nontraditional student with responsibilities of being a wife and a mother of four children.

"It would have been nice if I knew I was an 'achiever' at the age of 20," Oliver said. "That's the kind of experience we want to provide for our students so that they can quickly recognize their strengths and talents and capitalize on them."

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

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