I believe that personality continues to adapt and change over time, especially through the college years. This idea coincides with that of Erik Erikson and his Model of Identity. It is Erikson who came up with the idea that the personality is molded over a series of life events that doesn't stop after adolescence. According to our textbook Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, Erikson believed that our personality develops from "womb to tomb" and that our personalities face a dilemma at eight different stages known as "psychological crisis".
Of the eight stages, the one I want to focus on is the Young adulthood stage. This time period is typically that of a college student and focuses around the "development of the ability to maintain intimate personal relationships". But in addition to this, I believe that the overall college experience plays into this as well. The personality faces a dilemma when an individual goes away for an extended period of time from the family. College represents this and forces the personality to adapt and makes the individual decide what person they want to become. With all the pressure college places on the mind, whether its social interactions, academic work, protecting one's self, or even down to volunteering, the personality adapts. The old phrase "college changes people" indicates this.
Arthur Chickering's book, Education and Identity, is an analyzation of a group of college students in the 1960s. It is centered around the theory that college experiences shape an individual's personality. Like Erikson's Model of Identity, Chickering's "seven vectors" serve as a similar belief but place more emphasis on these college years determining personality. According to an article "Growth and Change Through College Years", Chickering believed that college was a time to "manage emotions, establish(ing) identity, develop(ing) competence and interpersonal relationships". Where toddlerhood and early childhood are the conscious mind's/personality beginning in the atmosphere of a family, college and young adulthood represents the beginning of an individual's life on their own. At this time, the "nurture" aspect is reduced and that individual has the ability to create who they want to be.
With this, I wonder how testing/studies could be performed to show what part in life is most imperative for personality development. With correlation vs causation factors affecting conclusive evidence, it would be interesting to see where these findings are at in modern times. I think it is safe to say however that college is more than just an education. It is a molding of the way we think and is a vital part of the continuing development that shapes the identity of who an individual becomes.
Growth and Change Through College Years