The INTP's Guide To Making the Most of College

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on October 14, 2015
Category: INTP

As an INTP, it can be a struggle to get through college. Deciding on a major when you want to learn a bit about everything can be stressful. Combine that with going to classes that are sometimes stale and uninspiring, and you are likely to see some apathy set in.

Now, I can't tell you there's a quick fix solution to the problem, but I do have some tips for what helped me get through it.

Figure Out What You Like

Take some time to truly figure out what you want to major in. Work is the rest of your life, so find something that you enjoy. You might feel guilty about taking an elective that doesn't count towards your major, but there's probably something drawing you toward that interest, so why not go for it?

Use the university as a place to explore your interests and talents. Many teachers and counselors want to see their students excel, and many are willing to go out of their way to help if they see that you are interested.

Get Involved in Clubs & Recreational Leagues

Sure, it's easy to head back to your dorm or drive back home after class and crash, but that will quickly become boring. Make at least a day or two a week to get out and meet some new people that share similar interests. This will make the college experience much easier and it helps having others to vent with.

This may seem forced or a bit unnatural as an INTP, however. You might not have gone out to meet new people often in high school, but fortunately, everyone else here is in the same boat. People will be surprisingly open and willing to get to know you, so just showing up and being friendly will help expand your social circle a bit.

Don’t Stress Yourself Out

As an INTP, it's easy to get caught up in the fear of impending doom if you miss an assignment or bomb a test. You might think that it is something that is unrecoverable, but not doing something about it will surely make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Figure out steps to correct a problem rather than focusing on the worst case (and highly unlikely) scenario.

Take some time to relax and live in the moment. You don’t need a clear vision of what your future will look like in the next 3-5 years. Things will work themselves out. Enjoying the moment will not only help you create lasting memories, it will also prevent you from stressing so much.

Talk To Your Teachers

I can’t stress this enough. As much as you might think your grade in class might solely depend on your knowledge, it helps to get to know the teacher a bit. Teachers are not as impartial as you might expect them to be (it's just human nature to have a bit of unconscious bias). Just showing interest and enthusiasm in the class will help the teacher realize how smart and capable you are.

Take some time after class in the first week or two to ask a question or discuss a bit more about the topic. Having a good relationship with your teacher might even help boost an essay you turn in from an 85% to a 90% if they better understand how much you know a topic.

Studying Tips

As an INTP, you might procrastinate on assignments. In this case, it helps to keep an assignment calendar and start on projects early. Obviously that's easier said than done, but at least attempting to tackle the assignment will set you up on a path to solve any problems that come your way.

Use other sources of information besides just your textbook to understand your subjects. Using Google and Youtube, for example, will help you better understand a topic if your teacher isn't explaining it well. There's tons of free alternative learning sources out there that will help you pass your classes.

And finally, take some time and reward yourself when you tackle that particularly difficult assignment. You don't want to burn yourself out, so these little victories will keep your energy and effort going.

Sticking With a Major

Once you decide on a major, don't stress yourself out about changing it. INTPs are known to have plenty of interests, so don't see your major as placing yourself in a box. There are plenty of people that have changed careers or found a job with an unrelated major.

Your life and pursuits are still flexible, so focus on doing well in your major and learning as much as you can. Focus on finding ways to enjoy your time in college, get your work done, and live more in the moment. Everything else will sort itself out!

Scott Stafford

Scott Stafford is a writer interested in psychology, Myers Briggs personality typing, and technology. He is an INTP who has been writing for for over 3 years.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


Guest (not verified) says...

There are not "teachers" in college. There are professors and teaching assistants/ graduate student instructors. And at least for the first 2 years of college, there are often 500 other students in a single class, so the professors don't know or care who you are. I'm not sure where the author went to college, but only a handful of people in my college classes were lucky enough to get even 85% on anything.

Guest (not verified) says...

Depends on your major. I took a science degree and we had less then 100 in many of our specialised units.

I can understand for those classes with 500 plus students in classes you may not be able to get the attention you need to improve that grade.

Scott Stafford says...

You're correct, Professor is their proper title. Not all these tips will work for each and every situation, so use your best discretion.

rachel_ (not verified) says...

would it be a good idea for an intp to double major? i'm going to be graduating in 2017, and can't decide between graphic design or general psychology.

Scott Stafford says...

It is tough for anyone to help narrow down which particular field(s) to major in. It's more of a personal choice. My one piece of advice is to look at which career/job you would like to get into (and the steps to get there) more than the major itself.

Mic (not verified) says...

Rachel, I am an intp ALSO graduating in 2017 (hopefully) and I have chosen a double major of philosophy and psychology! This is very do-able for me, and the broadness of the subjects really helps ease that "there's so much more out there" itch. So yes, I highly recommend studying EVERYTHING that interests you. Good luck!

INTP JESSE (not verified) says...

Rachel, maybe check out being a user Experience designer (UX). It is a great mix of graphic design, psychology, and technology: three things INTPs tend to love. The pay for UX designers is impressive, too.

I have my B.S. in Human Services. Although I have done well in the field of Social Work, it has been extremely draining for me. INTPs need to be cautious of working in the humanities as human emotions will be in your face 24/7, which is not always ideal for us. I love to help people, but there are many days I just want to curl up in a corner far away from human contact.

Another thing to know about psychology degrees is that employers generally prefer someone with a graduate degree and a license, for billing purposes. You can get plenty of jobs in the humanities, but the big money lies in getting your license...which is a costly and timely endeavor in itself.

Hope this helped.

rachel_ (not verified) says...

it did help, actually! i researched the job a bit for myself and it seems pretty fun :o. thank you!

Dustin Brown (not verified) says...

I graduated college in 2008 (five year plan, wha-what!). Of course, I had five years worth of credits.

I had absolutely no help, and no advice. I was raised in a single parent home (ESFJ mother, who never went to college) and the parental grandparents had little in common with me. I grew up on a farm. Thick Southern accent. 6'2", and well built. So when people would see me, they'd immediately have be pegged as something I'm not. However, that never helped other people suggested things to me.

Most of my report cards were 100, 100, 100...High school was a breeze academically. I barely got along with my teachers. I got to college, my academic advisor told me to drop out. However, my college professor were another story.

My professors challenged me in ways I never had before--and I couldn't get enough. Based upon my high school performance, I thought I'd be a Math major. I was wrong. I fell in love with English. Actually I fell in love with everything. I took several foreign languages, which only taught me more about the English language. Even some of the antiquated things I would say from growing up in the rural South were explained and made clear, like dropping the r in words like words, clear, dear, Lord (the non-rhotic). Purely fascinating--still is!

But I had nobody to help narrow things down.

That's the key! Narrow down what you like and what best suits you.

My inferior function is feeling, as it is with so many INTP's. So I graduated college with a BA in Philosophy, Religion, and Ethics. I went straight to grad school and got a MA in Religion; then I went to seminary and got a Master of Divinity. That by itself may not have led to a career where I'd have to sit in a feely-touchy kumbaya prayer circle; however, when I got an MA in Human Services, I was doomed.

I went through all sorts of clinical training dealing with feelings. Actually, it was behavioral health training. That aspect of Psychology was new to me and it utterly astonished my wife (INFJ) when I would come home discussing what I learnt. She thought I should've known all of it already. FYI--she's a therapist; and she has her master's in professional counseling; and a license for insurance purposes.

Needless to say, I should've had help along the way. I worked as a chaplain and almost every day I would spend some time in the bathroom--it was the only place I could be alone. I found I love being alone at work--not good if you're supposed to be helping people.

So while I don't regret getting my MA in Religion and MDiv. I like to help people. I do think, however, it would've been better for me to have gone for a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theology, or Psychology. I would've been better at helping people behind the scenes, instead of directly on the front lines.

INTP, makes a better psychologist or psychiatrist than a therapist. My INFJ wife is the quintessential therapist. I, on the other hand, have fallen back in love with my first love--English. Well, writing to be precise.

Also, the intuitive-perceivers (NP's) make great writers. It's usually best to run creative ideas past an INFJ. I lucked out and married one.

Guest (not verified) says...

Dustin, I enjoyed reading your post and can relate to it. However, I did not start doing well in school until my late 20's. High school fell short in teaching me about the things I enjoyed--spirituality, electronics, engineering. For this reason, I had a lackadaisical attitude toward it: I did the minimum amount of work required to pass. Now, I am finishing my second B.S. degree; it is a B.S. in Business Intelligence. I maintain a 4.0 and find myself bored by the slow pace of the classes. I begin a M.S. in Data Science 1/2017 and hope it will move along at a more ideal pace for me.

After four years of working in the humanities, I burned out and did a career transition into designing software. I've never looked back! In the humanities, I was surrounded by negativity, drama, hopelessness, and so many other emotions. I couldn't get away from it. Now, when I look out my office door, I am surrounded by PhDs, scientists, biostatisticians, and software engineers. I eat lunch every day with intelligent people and have intelligent conversations. I feel like the humanities experience was a past life of hell and now I have now ascended into heaven.

As much as INTPs love to study life and humans, I strongly discourage an INTP to get into the humanities. We are better at observing from afar than we are at being down it, so to say. But part of being an INTP is looking under every rock we come across, so I expect most INTPs won't give my advice much weight. Although I have very limited human contact in my software designing job, I do not feel at all disconnected from helping others. INTPs have a knack for listening to others and breaking down barriers to giving them what they want. While other designers are telling business owners, "No, we can't do that," I am busy showing them we can do it. The deep satisfaction I get from giving my customers what they wanted, and more, trumps any experience I had in my humanities jobs ten-fold. If you're an INTP, don't be afraid to get into a technical job. You will find ways to help and please others. Plus, you will have a lot of alone time to perform your work unhindered by outside noise.

I'm only 34, but have lived a life of personal discovery and adventures that make most of my loved ones will never understand. Of my three siblings, I was the only one to move away from the area I grew up in. I joined the Army for five years and served two deployments in Iraq. Talking about the ultimate experience of discovering my spirituality: you don't know God until you're talking to him (or her, if you prefer) daily to get you through the hell of war. I always tell people: In Iraq, I lost my faith in religion and found my faith in God. Although all of my siblings do well in life, I am the only college educated one in my family.

I will say, as an INTP, I tend to go through extreme waves of boredom that lead to apathy and feelings of depressions. However, in the back of my mind, I always know something new will come along for me to discover and it brings me peace during times of up-and-down emotions. Although being an INTP has its challenges, I would never ask to be any other personality. I love me for who I am and the tenacity I bring to all of my undertakings.

To the 3% out there who call themselves INTPs, believe in yourself and allow yourself to enjoy the experience. try not to get too focused on the end result.

Krussell (not verified) says...

It's amazing to read there are actually plenty of other people so similar to me out there. So glad to discover the INTP definition. I always felt so strange and alone!

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