BOSTON (CBS) – Tricia Bradley of Lexington has two talented kids; both study hard and are accomplished musicians. But, with the cost of a college degree often topping the quarter million dollar mark, she wants to make sure they think long and hard about what they want to study.
“I know so many lawyers who wish they weren’t lawyers,” she said.
Tricia’s son Carter is a junior in high school who is thinking about a career in music or sports. While supportive of his interests, Tricia wanted him to look at other possibilities. That’s why she suggested a new online assessment tool called Latitude. According to the CEO of the company that developed the program, it’s designed specifically to help students zero in on a course of study that fits their interests and skills.
“We help them understand themselves in the context of work by testing them and assessing them on the 14 aptitudes or natural abilities that are most important to career choice,” explained Philip Hardin, CEO of Youscience.
This is not like taking an SAT, according to Carter, who took the test back in December. Instead, it focuses on things like eye-hand coordination, idea generation, pattern memory and inductive reasoning. Based on the results, the program matches students’ abilities with careers requiring those skills.
“I got art director, musical composer. I got fireman. I got PI (private investigator) and nurse practitioner,” Carter said. Other than musical composer, all of the careers were things that Carter had never considered. He was particularly surprised when the test indicated he would make a good medical engineer.
“I didn’t think I wanted to go into medicine,” Carter said. “But then I looked at the description of the job itself and it intrigued me,” he said.
Carter’s sister Lily is in college studying to be a bio-medical engineer.
“My mom said, ‘Take this test. I want to make sure this is really what you should be doing’”, she said. “I’d like her to be able to consider other possibilities before it’s too late,” Tricia said. “Before we put $250,000 into an education and she decides she wants to be a painter.”
Anna Ivey of Ivey Consulting helps students navigate the college admissions process. She says this program is different from other tests that have been around for years and rely on student self-assessment.
“They are the only tool out there that is thinking about the process from high school and picking a college and picking a major up through the educational process in college and getting out into the job market” she said.
Lily’s test came back as a great match for bio-medicine. Carter is still thinking about a career in music but he said the test gave him a lot to think about. “There are careers out there that most people don’t even know exist. It’s just so cool to know that if you think you are out of options, you are not even close,” he said.
Latitude costs $399, which allows the students and both parents access to the test.