Students start their college experience with hopes for the future, often not only for their own life but also the world around them. And higher education leaders carry hope that their students will form an emotionally engaging relationship with their school, thrive on campus, and then create the great job and great life they're looking for.
To help students and their school leaders who support them build their relationship and reach their goals, Gallup wrote CliftonStrengths for Students, drawing from its expertise in strengths development and the effects of strengths, engagement and well-being in higher education.
Early in Gallup's higher education history, our team focused on self-awareness alone. When administrative leaders asked about strengths impact (and its cost), our strengths advocates could talk about how many meetings and "Aha!" student moments they had -- but the conversations often stopped there. We found educators repeating top five sessions around campus while missing the link to engagement and well-being -- the impact that matters most to college leadership.
While self-awareness is a gift and starting point, students need to know far more than their Top 5. They need to understand the vital relationship between strengths, engagement and how to thrive on campus. Students who understand that relationship are equipped to create the future they want. They also become more emotionally engaged with their school, which is necessary for the long-term survival of higher education institutions.
Recently, Gallup partnered with Purdue University and Lumina Foundation to see which undergraduate experiences are related to the goals that students have when they start college -- goals like getting a good job, being prepared for a career and many other important issues.
The results of the Gallup-Purdue Index (GPI) are measured to identify the initiatives and services and opportunities that lead to positive outcomes. Six of them, called the Big Six, are absolutely foundational for giving colleges a blueprint for continuous improvement in their quest to help students create a great job and a great life. The results of the GPI took the strategies that we had learned on hundreds of campuses and linked them to research that matters.
GPI results are life-altering for students, but they are not student-oriented. To leverage what Gallup has learned about lifelong engagement and well-being, students need a way to learn about their strengths, our science and how to bring them all together on campus to make a difference for their college experience and life. CliftonStrengths for Students does exactly that.
The book includes the broad strokes of all 34 CliftonStrengths themes, but it presents them in ways that are specific to higher education. It sets college leaders up for success as they align students' strengths to the Big Six, the outcomes that will impact their students' engagement and well-being while on campus and beyond.
When schools integrate strengths into existing programs (rather than making strengths a program within itself), they achieve a more robust and practicable route toward emotional engagement. And when schools lead with outcomes rather than stopping the conversation at students' Top 5, their graduates have better engagement rates at work and higher rates of lifelong well-being.
Our education leaders and thousands of coaches can use CliftonStrengths for Students as a strategic blueprint for students to thrive. Students will discover how they can apply their unique and valuable strengths to get deeply involved on campus while developing life-changing relationships with mentors and faculty and applying their education goals to year-long projects on campus. And schools will be empowered by embracing a model that we know works.
This book puts strengths, engagement and a thriving life into one conversation with outcomes that can be measured. With this book in schools' and students' hands, we will be thrilled to see the life changes that will take place.