My son is 21 and attends a local college. He likes computers but has trouble passing the classes required for computer technology. He gets F’s. He seems depressed and lost. Any ideas will help because we are out of plans.
My Personal Interests Matched Against My Aptitudes by Pete
Your description of your son reminded me of my story. When I was in the eighth grade, I had lots of problems. Most of these problems were caused by ADHD issues, not my learning disabilities. I saw a counseling psychologist during that time.
At one point, the psychologist administered a battery of psychological tests. Two of the tests were related to my interests matched against my aptitudes . . .
Years later, I majored in psych in undergraduate school. I took tests as part of a class. Two of the tests measured interests to aptitudes and were the same tests as those I took in eighth grade.
Several years later, I was in grad school in psych (had 30 grad hours, didn’t finish, went to law school instead). As part of the class, we had to take some tests. I took the same two tests for the third time.
Fifteen Year Comparison of Three Test Batteries
My parents had kept the test results from eighth grade and the results from the tests I took in college. I was able to compare the results of tests that were administered over approximately 15 years.
I was amazed. The findings didn’t change — they were right on the money.
It was uncanny and a little unnerving to see how the test data about my interests and aptitude and the test’s predictions for future success were so accurate.
Assessing Interests and Aptitudes
Until I took these tests for the third time, I was convinced that the first two tests were wrong. But results of tests taken in middle school and undergraduate school actually predicted my careers as an adult.
As a young adult, I wanted to work as a forest ranger because I thought that would give me lots of time to fish and camp. The occupations suggested by the interest and aptitude tests included journalism, counseling, ministry, and attorney.
During college and after, I worked part-time for a local newspaper. I worked as a juvenile probation officer for 10 years before law school.
After law school, I worked as a criminal defense attorney. Many of my clients were wayward youth who were aimlessly drifting and had no direction. I referred these kids to a counseling/vocational psychologist for an assessment of their strengths, weaknesses, aptitudes compared to interests.
After I had these test results, I could help the kids start moving in the right direction. By the time we had the final dispositional hearing ( i.e., whether the youngster would be incarcerated or placed on probation), we had a plan in place and the plan was working. The youngster’s self concept changed as he/she accomplished things that were significant..
These tests were the only ones available in the old days. Newer editions may be better.
Get the Data First
Bottom line: Like many things in life, before you try to create a plan, get your data first.
In most cases, my clients believed they knew their strengths, weaknesses and interests. Like me, they were wrong. Looking at the test data helped the individual take a deeper look.
When I was in college, I came within a hair of flunking out. I was on probation more semesters than I was off. I felt depressed off and on. My life turned around during my junior year, when I fell in love with psychology and started to work with delinquents at a juvenile training school.
My life had meaning. Before that, my parents lost many many nights of sleep.
Re-edited from a post originally published 08/02/2010
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