I was really excited when my mom told me about the aptitude testing—it was a cool idea, and I thought it might be fun, too. I also knew that it would really help me decide what I want to focus on for my studies and career, which is great, because there are so many things I’m interested in and like to do. I had a suspicion that I’d be similar to my mom in some ways, and very different in others. We took the tests on the same day and talked about what we did, and what we liked and didn’t like.
I’ve always had lots of ideas of what I wanted to do as a career. The testing helped me realize which things I would excel at because they use my strongest aptitudes. You can be interested in all kinds of things, but the ones that use your strengths are the ones that can relate to a career. I knew I wanted to do something creative, either in the performing arts or some kind of design.
The parts of the testing that were the most fun for me were probably the tests where my aptitudes were the strongest. I remember Wiggly Block as being a lot of fun! My mom laughed when I told her that, as she remembered that test being awful! I also liked the word-memorizing test (Silograms), Ideaphoria, and Color Discrimination. I thought those shades of color were just so pretty, like makeup or watercolors. I love art: making clothes, knitting, drawing, and making collages. The tests I didn’t like much were probably the ones I was weakest at, like the music ones and that tweezer dexterity, with all those tiny pins.
My mom and I went over our results at the same time, and it was surprising and also not surprising to see that we scored high on a lot of the same things, like Ideaphoria. I’m very good at coming up with reasons why I should be allowed to do this or that—but she’s equally good at coming up with reasons why I shouldn’t! We both scored high on Analytical Reasoning, which we use to coordinate our schedules and plans, and Foresight. We’re both Objective too, and I think this helps us understand each other’s viewpoints.
One big difference was that my mom scored low in Structural Visualization. I kind of knew that already, as she’s terrible with directions and has a hard time with anything 3-D, like assembling furniture or making clothes. It was cool to see what my mom and I have in common, and I think it will help me understand each other better. I think, too, it will help me now not to get as frustrated with her when she gets lost or sews something inside out because I know that she doesn’t have that aptitude.
After the testing, I knew that I would be happiest in a career like fashion design or architecture because I scored high in spatial thinking, color discrimination and the other visual aptitudes, and Ideaphoria. I also learned that I would be good at a career that involves languages because of my high score on Silograms. I realized why one of my favorite subjects in school is Spanish. Although I love the idea of traveling, a language career isn’t one I considered because I learned I’m a spatial thinker, and that aptitude wouldn’t get used. I have to say that I wasn’t surprised that I scored high on tests like Wiggly Block and Paper Folding, Ideaphoria, Memory for Design, and the other art and design tests because these are the types of things I enjoy doing most, and am good at. It seemed obvious to me, as so many of my activities outside of school use these skills.
What I did find out that surprised me, because I never really thought that much about it, was how I like to work. I learned that I am Objective, meaning I work well with other people. This made sense to me because I enjoy group projects and working with other people. It’s most fun, though, when I get to be in charge. I like managing, and I definitely prefer collaboration.
Another surprise, probably for the same reason, was a high score on Foresight, the test measuring how many possibilities someone can generate. I didn’t know that I am good at foreseeing possible outcomes and consequences. I was only fourteen when I took the tests, so the idea of distant career planning was a little difficult to take in at the time. This will really help me, I think, in the future, being able to set my sights on something and pursue it until I’ve achieved what I set out to do. My mom is like this too.
My educational path was a little different—I was homeschooled until the fifth grade. To me, school was just having fun every day, and we kind of learned by accident. We learned by doing—we acted out Shakespeare’s plays and Greek mythology. We visited factories to see how things were made and then made our own assembly line. I remember that we always seemed to know a lot more than our friends who went to public school, probably because of the way we learned, and also that we wanted to learn.
I remember that I very much wanted to learn how to read. My parents encouraged me, but didn’t force me, making me want to learn. So I learned to read when I was four, and was reading novels by age six. [Victoria scored in the 95th percentile on the vocabulary test, and on a test that was significantly harder than the one most people her age take.]
So that was school to me, and when I went to a private school for the next three years, and then public school for two years, I quickly realized how different (and better) my schooling had been. It made me impatient to sit in class with people who didn’t want to learn, and I really felt like I was wasting my time every day. I was hardly learning anything new, and most of the time I was bored out of my mind. I also hated being part of a system that was all about passing tests – how are As and Fs at all reflective of someone’s skills?
I talked about how I felt with my parents, and they agreed to let me drop out and get my GED. I felt I could accomplish so much more if I were learning about things that had some kind of relation to my future plans, and not just memorizing stuff so I could pass some standardized test.
I did get my GED, with very high scores, and went right on to study at the School of Fashion Design. I absolutely loved school again, even though I was one of the youngest people there. I was learning by doing again, and I soaked up information like a sponge from the teachers and other students. While I was at SFD, I was using all of my strongest aptitudes, and all of a sudden, I loved homework and I didn’t even want to sleep because I was so excited about everything I was learning. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and start working on my projects.
So, even though my educational path wasn’t exactly traditional, I am positive that it was right for me, and my parents feel the same way. At age 17, I’ve already experienced what it’s like to be fulfilled by work, which is a feeling that most people my age have no idea about. I also know that learning is as important as talent, so I know I need to continue with my education. I spent a year at the Interlochen Arts Academy, an independent boarding school for the arts, in Michigan, and am now at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City. I started there in the fall of 2011, and I'm taking different classes to help me decide what I want to focus on, and am getting straight As! I know I’ll definitely look to my testing results to help me decide what the best choice is for me among the options. I'm interested in functional design (as opposed to conceptual design), and my long-term goal is to have a career doing something creative, that uses my aptitudes, like Fashion Design, Fiber Arts, or Fine Arts.