Priyanka Singh (16) appeared for an aptitude test at school that showed she had an inclination towards medicine and English literature. But that hasn’t helped Singh, a student of St Mary’s School at Vashi who’s awaiting her SSC result, make up her mind as she continues to think of careers in medicine, animation and law. “Guidance after the test would have helped. The test alone was not enough,” she said.
Schools across the city, regardless of board affiliation, conduct aptitude tests for students at least once, in classes 8, 9 or 10. All 16 schools approached by Hindustan Times said they conducted aptitude tests or had some level of career guidance. Several had visiting professionals speak to students on career options, while one school even held a career fair. “Students tend to be confused because they have to make a career choice at a young age; education is not necessarily geared towards career choices,” said Kishore Pillai, principal of RIMS International School. “An aptitude test makes choices easier.”
Holy Family High School, Andheri, conducts an aptitude test for Class 9 students and has career counselling for Class 10. “The test is conducted by a trained counsellor for individual students. The counsellor customises the test each year depending on changing trends,” said the principal, Father Francis Swamy. The aptitude tests are designed to measure numerical, abstract, verbal skills and linguistic skills, and schools generally outsource these to private organisations.
Some schools such as R.N. Podar at Santacruz have permanent career guidance cells where students can consult trained counsellors. The Children’s Academy group of schools ropes in alumni to conduct career guidance workshops. “It’s more convincing for students to hear the experiences of our alumni,” said the group’s CEO, Rohit Bhat.
But are the one-off tests helping students? “Students may change their minds or be confused even after deciding on a career,” said Suma Nair, whose daughter just completed Class 12.
In the absence of a scientific or standardised aptitude test, career decisions might still end up being parent-driven. Some schools such as Little Flower School, Andheri, hold counselling sessions for parents. “We tend to unintentionally influence our children’s choices. We need to be well-informed about the economy and careers,” said Rajalakshmi Vijay, a parent. “More than just the test, counsellors need to provide is a roadmap for students,” said Chetna Duggal, assistant professor of psychology at Tata Institute for Social Sciences.
“You might be good at something, but what after you find that out? Career guidance needs to be about helping the person identify the courses that match the aptitude and what prospects these have.”