2007 Comment by RTN


After the first semester of my freshman year at Trinity, I was put on academic probation. The first semester of my sophomore year – which preceded this evaluation – was a bit better, but still poor. At the time of the evaluation, undertaken at my request while I was enrolled in “Introduction to Psychology,” academics seemed to be falling into place better; by the end of the semester, a better transcript was in the works. Nonetheless, the psychologists who examined me had no evidence that I was anything but a mediocre student with incompatible vocational goals. Needless to say, at the root of my distraction from my courses was a blooming new same-sex relationship with classmate Bob Pingpank, wondering what this could possibly lead to, and my desperation to remain closeted. These many years later, I would describe those early college years as a foggy “whirl” at most levels.




Mr. Nolan, a 19 year-old Trinity sophomore, was seen at the Personnel Services Institute in February 1957. While expressing some uncertainty as to vocational goal, he reported plans to become an Episcopal priest, and has channeled his educational planning to that end. In interviews he described his idea of “complete contentment” as a vocation such as a Dean of a seminary where administration, instruction, counseling, and preaching would be included. The function of counseling in his case is, then, one of evaluating the realism of this vocational goal in terms of his interests, abilities, aptitudes, and personality traits.


The following comments serve to summarize the principal data of our evaluation; further data are included in the charts which follow.


With regard to interests, several lines of evidence suggest that Mr. Nolan's primary interests lie in the social welfare area. Such specific occupations as social worker, counseling psychologist, lawyer suggest themselves here. It is significant, however, that Mr. Nolan does not have interests strikingly like those of successful ministers – at least on the most reliable interest test available to us; other less specific interest tests cannot rule on this specific point. A secondary pattern of interests generally focused on occupations concerned with communication, i.e., sales, advertising, journalism, is almost as prominent as the primary pattern in social service. Interests in communication and persuasion are not, however, antithetical to Mr. Nolan's professed vocational goal. Strong avocational interests in artistic and literary appreciation are noted; these interests may properly be pursued with profit on a hobby basis. On the basis of interests alone, Mr. Nolan might be cautioned to weigh carefully the pros and cons­ of entering the ministry as opposed to some other social service or persuasive field.


Neither the results of present testing nor the general scholastic record should be taken alone in the matter of predicting academic success [especially since we know of no valid predictor in psychological testing in the aptitude for faith. We note, however, a fairly consistent agreement when academic aptitude and achievement are compared. Mr. Nolan is about average in intellectual ability when assessed against his collegiate peers. This finding suggests that he has the general ability to do average work [depending on the school's standards] in a theological seminary of his choice; but unless great changes in motivation and work habits are obtained, it is probable that he will not be able to achieve the academic success to assure -- other things being equal -- a vocational placement as Seminary Dean, in which role much stress properly is placed on breadth and depth of scholarship. While Mr. Nolan did well in preparatory school work, his average ability and achievement as a college student serve to cast doubt on the realism of his present planning. There is specifically a low average achievement in literature and social sciences which is scarcely in keeping with his interests and present goal. These specific weaknesses appear also out of line with the strong secondary interest pattern in the “communication and idea” area.


In the matter of temperament and personality characteristics we note many traits which would serve to extend Mr. Nolan's effectiveness in the social welfare and promotional fields: warm sociability, conscientious, trusting, responsive to social values, self-confident, -controlled, poised, active, resourceful, serious, and orderly, with needs to understand others, to aid and assist others, and the need to persevere in the face of obstacles. On the other hand, in the light of his professed high level of aspiration, we note a very low drive to succeed and his need to avoid the limelight; his tendency to be submissive and to avoid aggressive behavior is in sharp contrast with his need to dominate and may account for the discrepancy between present academic achievement level and the level required to obtain the proposed goal.


In brief summary the evidence taken as a whole points strongly toward preparation for entry into the social welfare vocational field. There are, however, certain lacks which should not be overlooked, especially the matter of low motivation for academic success and the relatively low level of achievement in literature and social studies. Specifically the ministry should be carefully weighed against welfare occupations such as social worker, counseling psychologist, high school teacher.


Personnel Service Institute, Trinity College, Hartford