Friends walking and smiling in Sangren Hall on campus

CliftonStrengths for Students

"What will happen if we think about what is right with people rather than fixating on what is wrong with them?"

—Donald Clifton


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What is CliftonStrengths?

CliftonStrengths is a tool to help individuals discover their top areas of talent, so that they can develop and apply these skills more effectively. People who focus on their Strengths are more likely to have higher levels of engagement, productivity, and well-being.

Developed by Gallup, the CliftonStrengths assessment consists of 34 Strengths. Gallup defines a Strength as the ability to provide consistent, near-perfect performance in any given activity. Taking the assessment allows individuals to identify, understand, and apply their most natural Strengths.

CliftonStrengths is a component of the First-Year Experience (FYE 2100) course curriculum. All students who register for FYE-2100 will receive a free CliftonStrengths code to discover their Top 5 Strengths, as well as a classroom presentation and the option to pursue an individual coaching session.

Data from previous FYE classes indicates that students who use CliftonStrengths:

  • Improve their understanding of themselves and their self-confidence
  • Better connect with their peers and understand how to better work on teams
  • Feel affirmed in their choice of major/career
  • Understand how their Strengths can help them plan for the future

More about CliftonStrengths

  • Who uses CliftonStrengths?

    Many units on campus are invested in helping students identify, understand, and apply their Strengths. In addition to the Office of Student Transitions, the following departments use Strengths:

  • What are the 34 Strengths?

    Curious to know what all 34 Strengths are?


    When you take the assessment you will receive your Top 5 Strengths, along with several reports explaining the terms and offering insight as to what that means for you. You will also have life-long access to your Gallup account, which will provide you with valuable resources as you continue to dive deeper into embracing your Strengths.

    Your Strengths truly make you a unique individual. In fact, the chances of you having the same Top 5 in the same order as someone else are 1 in 33 million!

    It is important to know that everyone possess all 34 Strengths. All 34 signature themes are ranked for you in some capacity and it is important to know that you are not lacking in any of them. Those towards the top of your list simply come more naturally to you than others. You receive your Top 5 because it has been scientifically proven to be the easiest number to memorize in numerical order.

    It is also important to remember that CliftonStrengths are not prescriptive. You can do any job or study any major with any combination of Strengths. There is no direct correlation between individual Strengths and success in academic majors. Instead, we encourage you to understand what you do best and determine how to apply it to be successful in any major or career.

  • How do I take Strengths?

    Access codes for Strengths cost $19.99 each. They can be purchased at StrengthsQuest, or the following ways:

    Incoming First-Year Students (new beginners and new transfers)

    If you will be a first-year student this fall, be sure to opt into a First-Year Seminar class that uses Strengths. You will receive a free access code.

    Current Students

    Visit Career and Student Employment Services in Ellsworth hall. You can receive a free access code, but must also schedule a 1:1 coaching session to discuss the results of your assessment.


    Purchase codes for students, student employees, G.A.'s, or professional staff on the Gallup website.

  • How can I use Strengths?


    • After you take the assessment, meet with a Strengths Champion for an individual coaching session. Many students say this is the best way to help them truly understand what their Strengths mean and how to productively apply them.
    • Use Strengths language to convey what you do best on resumes and in interviews.
    • Find good-fit extra-curricular activities that fit your passion and help you thrive.
    • Understand how to leverage your Strengths to be successful academically – how and when do you best think, study, retain information, and take tests? Having this self-awareness can help you be a more engaged and productive student.
    • Know what value you bring to a group and understand what type of partners you need to come alongside you so that you have a dynamic team.



    • Discover your Top 5 and have an individual coaching session. Beginning to speak the language of Strengths will allow you to connect with students and/or colleagues who also know their Strengths.
    • Consider having your department sponsor the purchase of access codes so that you can integrate Strengths into your current classwork or work environment. Strengths is not about adding “one more thing” to your agenda, it is about intentionally incorporating awareness into what you already have planned. It is also a great professional development tool to create a culture of affirmation and engagement.
    • Request a Strengths Champion to facilitate an Intro to Strengths presentation in your classroom or for your staff as professional development. Visit Career and Student Employment Services to request a career education presentation and choose CliftonStrengths Workshop. 
    • Additional Strengths activities can also be added to your class or staff during the semester.
    • Participate in Strengths Academy to be WMU Strengths Champion.

What students are saying about Strengths:

  • I enjoyed doing this activity because for me at least, it is very easy to point out all my flaws, and very difficult for me to point out my strengths. This activity helped me recognize these strengths and understand how they apply to me, and how I can use them to my advantage to be a stronger and more put together person. Doing this activity helped boost not only my confidence about myself, but others as well because it gave me something that I can use to my benefit and that I can be proud of.

  • Overall, I am so glad that I was able to participate in this opportunity. It helped me learn more about myself and be able to see what qualities I thrive in and makes me, me. Without StrengthsQuest, I would have never known that some of my hidden qualities, like restorative and connectedness, have so much impact on my life.

  • I think that taking the test was one of the more helpful tasks in our FYE class because I really learned a lot about myself. I think that after learning my strengths I began to realize them more in my daily life. I am now more aware and more willing to learn how to develop not only my personality of strengths but also develop myself.

  • I often struggled to get along with my parents during my senior year of high school. Ever since I have been at Western, going home and visiting my parents has been a great time. I believe that discovering my strengths have given me tools that I wasn't always aware of.

  • Knowing Strengths enabled me to see what I do well in a leadership role and what I can improve on.

  • My Strengths taught me how to prepare and do better and job interviews.

  • Integrating Strengths into my Communications course allowed us to tie course material concepts to the students' knowledge of themselves which made what they were learning that much more real and concrete.

    WMU Instructor