$720 “aptitude test” helps Sterling students find out what they want to be when they grow up

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STERLING, Illinois -- "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

It's the question adults have been asking kids for generations. Some, may never really know the answer. But Sterling High School may have developed a way to find out, by giving students a pricey aptitude test, taken at a special testing center in Chicago.

“I think for our students, we appreciate it,” Kaileen Gaumer, school counselor, said. “It gets them out of Sterling and into the city. And they may not have done that before. It helps them remember there’s a life outside of sterling, and it gives them an incredible opportunity to learn about themselves.”

Every year for more than a decade, an anonymous benefactor has been picking up most of the tab for high school seniors to take the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation’s $720 dollar aptitude test. Since 1922,  Johnson O’Connor, a nonprofit organization,  has been helping people of all ages realize their natural talents.

“We’re not career counselors,” Kelsey Bakas, director of Johnson O’Connor’s Chicago office, said. “(We focus on) natural strengths abilities, innate abilities that want to be utilized.”

The test itself isn't what you'd expect. Instead of using fill-in-the-blanks or a scantron, the daylong test studies manual dexterity, memory, special visualization, and more. The tests seem mysterious at first, but the results are telling. They reveal aptitude, highlighting a person’s natural abilities, skills students may take for granted.


“Having someone tell you, ‘Yes, you’re good at this’ or ‘No, you’re not good at this,’ is really helpful., Turner Garcia, a Sterling senior, said.  “I knew that I could do something good, I guess, but I just didn’t know what that was.”

After the day of tests is complete and the results are tabulated, representatives from Johnson O’Connor travel to Sterling to share them with students and their parents.

It’s never too late to learn about yourself. Adults can take the test. It can prove helpful for people considering a career change. And it doesn’t only help people decipher their professional interests.

For more information, visit jocrf.org.

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