Chapter 2: Setting Goals

Discovering Your Values

Why spend time reflecting on your values?

Your values influence your goals, your goals influence your priorities, and your priorities dictate how you spend your time. As a college student, you often have many different aspects of your life competing for your time and attention, which means as much as we would like to spend time on everything important to us, it is just not possible. By reflecting on your values, you can make decisions about how to spend your time and where to focus your energy.

This is the bottom line: think about what you value and use that to inform your goals. For example, if you are a single parent, your values might be family, education, and earning a living to support your family. Once you know these values are your priorities, you can make decisions about how you spend your time and where you focus your attention.

As you reflect and prioritize, it will become easier to say no to things that do not align with your values so you can spend your time focusing on the things that mean the most to you. You may find that some aspects of your life need to be put off until after the semester, such as hanging out with friends, binge-watching television, or spending time on social media, or these activities may be used as rewards during the semester. By intentionally focusing on your priorities, you can thoughtfully reduce or cut down on activities that do not support your goals.

What are your top three values? If you are not sure, take some time to discover your values using the self-assessments in this section of our textbook.

stock photo, stones, work, trust, values

The aim of education is the knowledge, not the facts, but the values. -William S. Burroughs

Assessing Your Identity and What You Value

The journey of achieving success in college begins with a single step: identifying your personal values. Personal values are your core beliefs and guiding principles. They shape the roles you play in daily life, color your interests and passions, and frame your thoughts and words. In essence, your values are a compass that guides your decisions and choices.

What are your values, then? Which are most important to you, and which are least important? How do your values fit into your educational goals? How do your educational goals relate to your future career?

To help you answer these questions, you can use a “self-assessment” survey. These surveys can help you evaluate your personal identity—your thoughts, actions, attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors—in relation to the task at hand, like going to college and preparing for a career.

Many different self-assessment surveys are available from college career centers and online sites. Some are designed as personality tests, like the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, or as inventories, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI®), the most widely used personality inventory in history. You may also come across instruments designed as scales, measures, games, surveys, and more. These descriptors are often interchangeably used, although most often they refer to questionnaires. The distinctions are not as important as whether or not the instrument meets your self-assessment needs.

In the following activity, you will sample several self-assessment surveys to gain insights into your personal identity, values, and educational and career goals. By better understanding the interconnections between these important areas, you will be in a better position to make solid college and career choices.

Assess your personal identity and values

  • Spend a few moments thinking about questions or feelings you may have about your personal identity, values, and educational goals.
  • Review the self-assessment survey instruments listed below, and select one that best represents your interests in examining your values.
  • Complete the survey you’ve selected, maintaining an objective, honest, and open stance. Listen to your inner voice and to what is uniquely important to you.
  • When you complete the survey, reflect on the parallels you see between educational and career goals.
  • Write a few paragraphs about what you discover. What surprises you the most? What excites you the most? Are your educational goals in sync with your personal identity and values?
1 ISEEK Career Cluster Interest Survey

ISEEK Careers / Minnesota Colleges and Universities

This online survey lets you rate activities you enjoy, your personal qualities, and school subjects you like. Then you can see which career clusters are a match for your interests.
2 Values Clarification Questionnaire

InSite / Electric Eggplant

This online survey, in two parts, looks at the specific values of ambition, appearance, family, friendship, independence, wealth, education, freedom, happiness, privacy, security, honesty. A scorecard and interpretation are generated.
3 Career Interest Survey / Community and Technical Colleges of Washington State

This online survey allows you to select activities you like to do, personality traits that describe you, and subjects that interest you. Auto results suggest one or more of sixteen career clusters that match your selections.

Our Values Over Time

It’s also important to keep in mind that your personal values and interests can and will change as you get older. This is evidenced in research conducted by a number of contemporary social scientists, like Erik Erikson and Daniel Levinson. Their studies show how our values affect our choices and how our choices can characterize the stage of life we’re in.

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It’s quite common to experience a significant change in perspective while you are in college. To better understand your relationship with your values, you can continually reassess what is important to you. Making a commitment to continually examine your thinking, actions, and choices will put you in a stronger position to manage changes in your educational goals, career, living situation, hobbies, friends, and other aspects of your life. Changes are an expected part of our many life transitions.

While you are in college, it’s important to choose responsible actions that align with your values, such as surrounding yourself with people and places that will help you move forward to achieve your personal and professional goals. Monroe Community College is dedicated to helping students identify the pathway that best aligns with their core values so they can set and achieve realistic academic and career goals.

FOCUS2- career and educational planning system

FOCUS2 is a computer-based system designed to assist students with career and educational planning. The FOCUS2 system enables users to discover and learn about career options related to their personal attributes. Users learn to make realistic decisions about their goals and plans, how to self-manage their careers, and the importance of adaptability in these times of change.

Login to FOCUS2 Keycode = monroe58

Professional career counselors are available to assist you with a range of career-related issues on an individual basis. Working with a counselor is an effective method for discussing the FOCUS2 results and exploring career options related to your academic program.

As an MCC student, feel free to schedule an appointment with a career counselor to discuss your FOCUS2 results. Please call (585) 292-2248 or stop by Career Services.


FOCUS2 includes five different self-assessments. The time required to complete each is approximately 15 minutes. You may complete as many assessments in one sitting as your time will allow. You have unlimited access to FOCUS2 so that at any time you can go back and complete the remaining assessments and spend additional time researching the more than 1000 different occupational choices.

Aligning Values, Goals, and Priorities

If we choose actions based on what we value, we are more likely to reach our goals or desired outcomes. In other words, knowing our values can help motivate us to choose actions toward the outcomes we want to achieve. Values remind us of what is important to prioritize, so they can help when we need to make decisions about how we spend our time.

Do your values, actions, and outcomes align? What should you keep doing, start going, or stop doing based on your values and what you hope to achieve?

Core Values of the College


We believe in meaningful partnerships among students, colleagues, departments, offices, and divisions within MCC as well as with local, regional, national, and global communities.


We commit to an environment of belonging in which everyone feels safe, valued, and respected by dismantling practices, policies, and procedures that uphold structural racism and other systemic inequities.


We believe in respect, honesty, authenticity, accountability, and ethics in policies, actions, and behaviors.


We encourage innovation, creativity, critical analysis, and continuous assessment to improve teaching, learning, programs, services, and policies.


We support learners and employees on their paths to intellectual, professional, and personal growth.


We are accountable for the responsible management of human, fiscal, physical, and environmental resources and the information entrusted to us.

Align MCC’s vision, mission, and core values with yours

MCC’s Vision

Monroe Community College will be the nationally recognized leader in championing equity, opportunity, innovation, and excellence while transforming students’ lives and communities.

MCC’s Mission

Monroe Community College, through access to affordable academic programs, leads excellence and innovation in higher education, inspires diverse students to transform their lives and communities, drives regional economic development, and builds global engagement and understanding.

MCC’s Core Values

Monroe Community College values community, inclusiveness, integrity, excellence, empowerment, and stewardship. These values help guide our behavior as MCC students and employees.

MCC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

Monroe Community College expects and upholds equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging in our educational programs, policies, campus life, employment, and community involvement. We believe that diversity enriches our lives and leads to understanding and appreciation of our differences and commonalities. In order to achieve academic and institutional excellence, we actively recruit, engage, and retain students, faculty, staff, and community partners who represent the diversity of our region, nation, and world.



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