Perspective on the Individual: Student Survey


The following questions are to be answered thoughtfully and returned to the instructor by the date identified on the syllabus. Each day, you will be asked to share your thoughts on some of these questions. You are encouraged to answer them as honestly as possible; the more honest you can be with yourself, the easier you will find it to make connections between your experiences and those of the authors covered. These potential connections will be the guiding force behind the two assigned essays.


Because you are encouraged to complete this self-investigation, you will never be forced publicly to share a response if you feel it is too personal. Each question below is presented as simply as possible in boldface, but since they often require some explanation, you may see clarifications or different phrasings, though you do not have to consider these separate questions. Each of the numbered items below is considered one question, no matter how many different ways it is expressed, and each question should be answered in 50-75 words. These questions are meant to be wide open; if you feel a question needs to be manipulated to suit your experiences, do so. If you feel a question is too vague and unspecific, it is likely intended to be, and you are encouraged to interpret it however you choose.


1. What is your philosophy of life? What creed or motto do you live by? Consider a philosophy or creed as a simple statement, something which might be printed on a t-shirt or bumper sticker. Consider from where, when or whom this philosophy was generated—does it come from one of your experiences, or perhaps was it a byproduct of a relationship or life experience?


2. What is the hardest thing about being a person of your gender? Consider work, leisure, family, education, culture, etc. Where might you have experienced gender bias or favoritism?


3. What do you wish someone had told you about life (or one aspect of life like relationships, work, family, school, etc.) that you had to learn yourself? Consider times when you may have said, “I wish I knew then what I know now.”


4.         (A) If you were to die today (may God forbid), what would be written on your headstone by the person who would most likely be responsible for organizing your interment? Consider who this person is, and what he or she would have etched on your memorial stone. Keep in mind that you’re de@d, so you have no choice or opinion in the matter. The etching must be from this other person’s point of view. Consider that the stone has room for no more than 15 words.


(B) Likewise, if you were to die today (may God forbid), what would YOU write on your own headstone? Consider that this message would be an eternal symbol of who you are or wished to be. It might be something that all, some or very few of your survivors understand. The etching must be from your own point of view and must, as well, be no more than 15 words.



5.         (A) What has been the high point of the first half of your life? Consider only the exact first half of the years you’ve lived, and identify what, more than anything, brings you the best memories.


            (B) What has been the high point of last year? Consider only the last full calendar year and identify what, more than anything, brings you the best memories.


            (C) What has been the high point of the past weekend? Consider only the time from the end of work last Friday until just before bed last Sunday, and identify what, more than anything, brings you the best memories.


6.         (A) Other than an immediate member of your family (parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle), what figure of authority (teacher, coach, clergy, employer) has had the greatest DIRECT influence on you and your life? Consider that “greatest” suggests “most profound,” not necessarily “most enjoyable” or “most favorable.” Who is this person whose pleasant or enjoyable behavior or attitude has had the best positive impact on you?


            (B) Other than an immediate member of your family (parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle), what figure of authority (teacher, coach, clergy, employer) has had the greatest INDIRECT influence on you and your life? Unlike above, consider the individual whose bad, unpleasant or inappropriate behavior has provided you with the greatest opportunity for learning about yourself (i.e. someone whom you’d most like NOT to emulate or model).


7. If you knew you would lose all ability to communicate (spoken, written, and gestured), and you were given ten seconds to speak, to whom would you speak and what would you say? Consider that your chosen listener/audience can be as many or as few people as you desire, though you have to declare why this/these individual(s) are present. Keep in mind that you’re not going to leave Earth after this one minute expires; you will just not be able to communicate to anyone at any time.


8. What role (if any) does God and/or spirituality play in your life? Consider the appropriate influences (or lack of influences) in your life and how these people/events have impacted you and your approach to any form or brand of religion.


9. Name three attainable goals currently on your list of things to do or accomplish. Consider as honestly as possible what makes something “attainable.” It is not necessarily what you want or need to do; rather, it is what you will do.


10. What has been your greatest personal disappointment? What action, decision or behavior of yours are you least proud of? Don’t concern yourself with what others may or may not find disappointing about you; this is completely your perspective of your actions.


11. What one word most accurately sums up your whole being? You might find it helpful to generate a list of potential words—even consider prioritizing them—but you must end with one word only and be able to explain why it has been selected over all others.


12. What has been your proudest personal accomplishment? Consider the road leading up to this accomplishment and whatever obstacles or burdens had to be overcome to satisfy this journey. As with question 10 above, don’t concern yourself with how others may take pride in your work or deeds; this is completely your perspective of your actions.


13. What is your weakest personality trait? Consider that this question is not referring to any physical quality and is not necessarily something that others know about or have an opinion about.


14. If you had the opportunity, what would you change about your relationship with your parents? Consider one or both (or some other individual if “parent” is not applicable.) Assume for this question that many of us would not alter our past if given the chance because our past has made us who we are. Having acknowledged that, decide what you would change if you could.


FOR THE REMAINING QUESTIONS, consider that our world is composed of “binary opposites”—terms or concepts which are mutually exclusive of each other (i.e. good and evil, night and day, love and hate). For each of the following sets of binary opposites, identify which of the two opposites would most closely describe you. It is completely reasonable (and I think quite purposeful) that you can exhibit both qualities at different times of your life—even from one minute to the next. Having said that, decide which of the two you tend to exhibit more (even if “more” only means slightly more).


15. Emotional vs. Logical: Do you tend to respond to situations according to desires and intuition or according to intellect and practicality?


16. Spontaneous vs. Methodical: Are you more likely to do things without plan or schedule (moving through life from one minute to the next), or do you tend to thrive on outlines, organization and forethought (moving through with purpose and function)?


17. Collaboration vs. Independence: Are you happier and more effective working on tasks (educational, professional and/or personal) with one or more other people or do you tend to do your best work—and earn greater overall satisfaction—by working alone?


18. Book smarts vs. Street smarts: Is your behavior, in general, based more on formal study and examination or are your skills guided more by experience, practice, and mistakes?


19. Concrete vs. Abstract: Do you tend to see things in absolute terms (thriving on limits, specificity and exactness) or do you prefer a more subjective, interpretive approach which allows room for individuality?


20. Proactive vs. Reactive: Are most of your actions and choices in life guided by a desire to set higher standards, find better methods, and build new roads or are you more likely to recognize and evaluate what has already been done and act according to what seems logically to follow with necessity?