Recently a parent and I were talking about her concern for her high school student who is gifted. Like so many other high schoolers, the student has so many emotions, feelings, questions, concerns, and wonderings about school, grades, friends, dating, the pandemic, future plans after high school, and a myriad of other things. The student is “stressing out” over all these concerns, especially about planning high school courses and the future.
This situation is one that many parents and guardians face with their children, whether gifted or not, in high school or younger. There has been a lot said, studied, and understood regarding the social-emotional needs of children and youth, especially during the pandemic. Great needs in this area can lead to stress, depression, and other serious mental health issues. One way that may be effective in reducing stress and reducing some mental health issues is to learn more about oneself and how that can impact one’s future.
The parent with whom I was speaking said her student had many interests, as many gifted students do, and was having a difficult time considering what to do after high school. Choices included: go to college, get a job, go to a technical school, join the military, etc. This is similar to what many school-aged students worry about for years, especially when so many well-meaning people ask the questions, “What do you want to do after high school?” or “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Gone are the days when people experienced only one job or career throughout a lifetime.
While pondering this, I came across an article by Pete Wright about finding one’s own interests, written by a twice-exceptional successful adult. One of the most interesting parts of the article was the fact that the author took the same two interest tests during his lifetime and the results remained consistent. His experience is compelling when considering how to help gifted students narrow their wide-ranging interests into a guide for selecting courses in school, activities in and outside of school, and a plan after high school.
Though many gifted students are given tests of various sorts throughout their school years, not many are given interest inventories or aptitude tests that are reliable formal tests. These can provide insight for the student (and parents/guardians) into areas that the student may wish to pursue in elementary, middle, high school, and beyond. Taking a more formal interest test may be of value for all students, as it was for Mr. Wright.
All students have their own unique ways of demonstrating what they know and can do, and though reliable, valid tests and inventories do not guarantee 100% accuracy or success, they are one way to gain more valuable information. Of course, each student and family must then make their own decisions. Pete Wright’s article is a place to start a discussion about gaining this valuable information to help plan a student’s future.
Find Your Dream Job: Know Your Interests, Aptitudes, and Personality
By: Pete Wright, 1/24/22
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
Ask the Doctor