Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ACT, Inc.-- Discover program

This is a big school year for my 15 year old son. He is a sophomore in highschool and in our house that means time to start thinking about college. As a member of the TOS Review Crew I have received a multitude of products this year designed to help kids sift through the soul searching process of answering, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” Jonah is benefiting in big ways from these products as this is the year when he needs to start sifting through choices, prepping for college entrance exams and seriously plotting out his future endeavors.

I have been familiar with the ACT name since I was in high school. In fact, although I am not quite this old, ACT, Inc. is celebrating their 50th anniversary providing standardized testing services to students, parents and colleges. What I didn’t realize was all ACT has to offer students and parents in the way of career exploration. ACT, Inc. sent me access to their ACT Advantage Discover program so that I might review it for TOS Review Crew with the help of my son Jonah.

The ACT Advantage DISCOVER program is an on-line based career planning program developed to serve the interests of students aged middle school through adult hood. Through a series of interest inventory tests taken on-line Discover guides students through the thoughtful process of considering the next step after high school. Inventory tests explore personal likes and dislikes in regards to various activities, rating of abilities, and an evaluation of work related values. Data results are shared instantly through graphs and explanations. Students may also access current information on potential college majors, colleges and careers that line up with their interests. Discover is appropriate to help students prepare for:

four-year college

two-year college

professional/graduate school

career/technical training

military service

immediate employment

Jonah and I sat down together to use the ACT Discover program which took just under an hour from start to finish. Each of the inventory quizzes consisted of a series of questions designed to identify strengths and weaknesses in the student. For example, the uniact inventory determined strongest interests by asking the student to identify if they like, dislike or are indifferent to a series of descriptions of activities. To keep the quiz interest high the descriptions are accompanied with photographs of people using the described skill.

There were three inventory quizzes to take and then the fun really began with ACT Discover. A detailed report is available immediately after answering the last question of each of the inventory quizzes. The one to two page report displays a World of Work colored map, a circular graph identifying the various types of occupations on a broad spectrum. Based on Jonah's answers he was identified as a person who prefers working with People and Data. To the left of the graph were two boxed areas of short lists noting specific occupations relating to People and Data. For example, Jonah's list included: employment related services, marketing and sales, management and regulation and protection under the broader area of administration and sales. A button at the bottom of the box allowed us to click to receive a more detailed list of suggested occupations relating to these interest areas. All of this information was based on his one quiz relating to his interests only.

Jonah took the other two inventory quizzes which measured his abilities and values. At the conclusion of all three quizzes a master results page was available which pulled together his answers from the three profiling quizzes. I was pleased to see suggestions available as to where to go from here. The recommendations included exploring careers in one specific area, medical diagnosis and treatment which appeared at the top of two of his results pages, and researching additional career options based on his interests. The answers did not reveal any magic solutions, but thoughtful information with links to lists of careers and easy access to search colleges offering majors that would relate to career choices matching Jonah's unique desires, goals and personality. In my opinion considering the small amount of time Jonah had to invest in the Discover program, it offered a tremendous amount of insightful information for him to make use of.

The real test is to ask the student, however, and Jonah seemed pleased over all with his experience. "It was interesting. It helped me discover more about myself. It confirmed for me that I know which major I should study for college", he said.

ACT Discover is part of the ACT Advantage program available exclusively from ACT, Inc. You can purchase access to the online Discover testing service at their website, http://www.actadvantage.org/. Subscriptions range from 19.95 for a three month term to $24.95 for six months. I found the value of Discover was its ability to identify and organize students thoughts and desires. Decisions regarding careers and future study can seem overwhelming even for most adults. Making use of the tools Discover has to offer allows high school students to conquer this behemoth task and move easily into their bright future.

1 comment:

rdl said...

thanks for the info, i've been trying to decide whether it was worth downloading this or not for my HS Sr. son. I think i will; now just have to decide 3 mo. or 6.