Son: Do I have to take a 4th year of Spanish?
Me: It’s a good idea. That way, you will meet any college’s foreign language requirement. At some colleges, three years is not enough and you’ll have to continue language study in college.
Me: What electives are you considering?
Son: I don’t know. Photography, I think.
Me: What about the pre-engineering classes with dual enrollment credit? It’s a great way to find out if you’re interested in engineering before you even apply to college. Look they have drafting, modeling, civil engineering…
Son: I don’t want to do any of those.
We went through the core courses he would take to meet graduation requirements for a college-bound teen: English, History (he chose AP), Chemistry, Algebra II, and Personal Finance (required by Blacksburg High School). I stressed over the remaining three classes, wondering just how much muscle to put behind my desire for him to explore engineering. I knew he was good at math and science; engineering seemed a logical choice. At the same time, I did not want to put up any walls between us. He already knew how important I think education is, so I took a different approach. I decided to shift the conversation to the idea of exploring careers that might interest him.
I pulled up a personality type test based on the Myers-Briggs model and asked him to take the 60-question test. When he finished, we both read the results and agreed that they were accurate, so much so that I ended up deciding to trust his instinct about which electives to take and not be the overbearing mom I had originally thought I should be.
Why would I let a test on personality types change my mind on how to respond to my son? Because I trusted the results. I have used Myers-Briggs used in the workplace to better understand how to work with colleagues and team members. It’s been a game-changer when it comes to productivity and improving morale. Why wouldn’t that work at home, too?
I love Penelope Trunk’s post, The career passion myth and how it derails you. While my own work-place experience had shown me how to be a better manager using Myers-Briggs, it was Penelope’s blog that connected the dots between personality traits and career choices. I realized I did not want my son to wait to until he was already in college or employed before understanding more about who he is and where he can excel. For more info, Ball State University has a nice, clean breakdown of personality types, along with references to sites for career and personality assessments: What Can I Do with My Personality Type?
Follow-up after turning in his course selection:
Me: So, what did you end up signing up for?
Son: Oh, Mr. Blumenthal (guidance counselor) said I needed to take Spanish 4, Art, to meet my fine arts requirement, and photography as my elective.
Me: Great! <To myself: Thank goodness for guidance counselors!>