YouScience is an online career and personal planning assessment system that helps teens and adults identify their own potential aptitudes and careers. You sign up and are given access to the system to take the series of assessments and receive a comprehensive report. That report includes not only your performance on the assessments, but it explains how the assessments reflect your strengths and weaknesses--strengths to capitalize upon and weaknesses to overcome or work around. All of that information is then translated into suggestions for college majors (If the test taker indicates they are college-bound) and careers.
The assessment consists of 16 exercises that take from 5 to 15 minutes each. While you can’t stop in the middle of an exercise, you can take a short break between them. You can also stop entirely at appropriate points then come back and finish at another time. It should take most students a two hours to complete all of the assessments, and it might be best to do half on one day and the rest another day.
Assessments are testing for math and language ability as well as interpersonal skills and career aptitudes. This isn’t like a SAT of ACT test, so those using the system need not worry about their specific knowledge. Math problems include the four basic functions, working mostly with fractions and decimals—math skills that should have been mastered by junior high. Vocabulary words and definitions should be familiar to most high school students. A “writing” assessment directs the test taker to write for five minutes in response to a question that requires no special knowledge base. Assessments also include identifying numerical and visual patterns, testing for hand-eye coordination, and visual memory exercises. The assessments conclude with two personal inventories. In one you indicate how you tend to interact with others (or not), and in the second, you rank your preference for different work tasks which helps the system suggest potential careers.
To take the assessments, you need to work on a desktop computer or a laptop rather than a tablet or other mobile device. Some laptops might not be appropriate. You need to have an easy-to-use, full-size keyboard to be able to type as quickly as possible. Laptop keyboards are often not good for this. You will also need a dependable internet connection.
Within 24 hours after taking the assessment, you receive an email notification that your results are ready. You can log back onto the site and view a presentation of the results. This is probably the best way to get a relatively quick understanding of the results. However, you can click on various sections of the report for more detailed information. The report includes personalized comments on each area of assessment. It concludes with recommendations of potential careers and college majors (for those going on to college). The YouScience website has sections for career and college major exploration so you can quickly go beyond the initial recommendations. (I love the visual graphics that show how well potential careers match up with your actual interests in the “Your Aptitudes Fit Analysis” for each career option.)
The program also allows you to save career options that you want to consider and compare with others. You actually need to do this to get to possible college majors, because you find the recommended educational majors under the careers. College majors include subcategories to help fine tune the process. For example, I selected “Broadcast News Analyst” as a career to investigate, and the system suggested four possible majors/areas of study: radio and television, journalism, broadcast journalism, and political communication. You can readily see how one might select one of these particular areas of study depending upon what type of broadcast news analysis one is interested in.
In addition to the interactive, online report, you can also download both a summary and a detailed report on results. The detailed report is 55 pages long while the summary version is seven pages. However, the interactive, online report remains the avenue for serious career and college major investigation. You might not need to print out the reports since you retain access for ten years and can go back to the system to explore college and career options during that time.
The assessments themselves were sometimes fun and sometimes challenging. I found one section almost impossible to complete, and I suspect others will likely have a similar experience. The point of the assessments is not to get the highest score but rather to identify personal strengths and aptitudes. If you keep that in mind, you should not get frustrated if and when you hit difficult sections of the assessment.
The reports are amazingly thorough. I took the assessments as if I were a senior in high school and came out with remarkably accurate results. However, when it came to career recommendations, it didn’t pick up my entrepreneurial leanings and translate that into anything like what I have done. Management and administration type jobs were at the top of my recommendations. While I have done management and administration, I tend to create new programs or projects. And I much prefer research, analysis, writing, counseling, and creative activities to administration and management. But, in defense of the program’s recommendations, I have to say, that my actual career does not fit any of the 504 careers in the YouScience system, and I would agree that my aptitudes would point in the direction of their recommendations. The database of careers and college majors is continually being updated to reflect current salary ranges and projected job openings as well as different careers and areas of study.
There are three pricing levels/options: Basic, Complete, and Ultimate. What I have described in my review is the Ultimate level. The Basic level includes all of the assessments and personalized strengths results as well as personalized "how-to" suggestions. The Complete level adds college planning tools and education and careers matching. The Ultimate level adds the Personal Profile printed book of your results and recommendations. Ultimate level also provides unlimited access to “YouScience Specialists” by phone (toll-free) and online chat. They can help with questions that might arise as far as using the assessments, and they can also provide additional feedback and interpretation of results. For most homeschoolers, I'd recommend the Complete level. You can upgrade at any time.
While the cost for YouScience is significant, it is easy to use and provides very useful results. The various levels allow you to select a level that you can afford. In my opinion, all teens should use something like YouScience or meet with a career counselor simply to open up their thinking. Many students do not recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, and these assessments will help them do so without giving them a sense of failure or inadequacy. Even if students think they already know what they want to do for college and career, YouScience might present other options that might be even more suitable. While the program can be used without any personal interaction with a counselor, I strongly recommend that a student completing the YouScience assessments meet with a parent or counselor afterward and have a conversation about the results. Keep in mind that while YouScience is great for students preparing for college and careers, it’s also useful for adults—there’s no age limit!