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High School Career Survey Turns Out Surprisingly Accurate 40 Years Later

I was rummaging through some boxes of memorabilia and came across the results of my Kuder Occupational Interest Survey test from my senior year of high school, shown above.

The survey shows results both for occupations and college majors that align most closely with the responses I gave to the survey questions. When I look at what I scored strong on, it matches fairly closely with what I ended up studying and what I have actually ended up pursuing as a career.

The top ten college majors that best matched my responses were:

  • Mathematics
  • Business, accounting, and finance
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Physical Science
  • Premed
  • Biological Science
  • Physical Education
  • Civil Engineering
  • Agriculture

As it turned out, I started off college as a math major, switched to phys ed for a while, and ended up as an econ major (which was the closest thing my college had to a business major). I then went on to get an MBA, and then a PhD in Accounting. I also went back to the local community college several years later and picked a degree in phys ed.

All of those majors were predicted by this test!

Here is the list of the top ten occupations that best matched my responses:

  • meteorologist
  • certified public accountant
  • optometrist
  • statistician
  • computer programmer
  • chemist
  • civil engineer
  • mining engineer
  • mathematician
  • high school math teacher

These results are also pretty close to how my life eventually turned out. I have passed the exam to be a certified public accountant, and while I am not a high school math teacher, a college accounting teacher doesn’t seem too different.

highschoolsenior

(I’m also thinking that perhaps my senior year high school photo may have had something to do with my ranking so high as a certified public accountant…)

I’ve written before about the whole meteorology thing¬†being my top career match and how I decided to follow-up on this a bit in college by taking a course in meteorology, and it ended up being the only C I got in college. So I guess the the predictive abilities of the survey aren’t perfect, or maybe it’s a sign I’ve been in the wrong profession for 35 years…

I also found it interesting that the test also captured quite well what I didn’t like, and still have little interest in. My lowest scoring college major match was art and art education (I’ve written before about my lack of appreciation for art), and my lowest matching career was interior decorator.

Overall, the Kuder survey seemed to reflect pretty well what my interests were and what types of careers best matched my interests.

So maybe I need to rethink my belief that college freshmen are too young to know what they really want to do.

It seems as if the things you liked as a high school senior may be a good predictor for what you end doing with your life. If that’s the case, it seems to imply that the high school years are pretty formative ones, and parents, teachers, and students need to treat that time period with the care it deserves.

Of course, the results could also turn out to simply be a set of self-fulfilling prophecies. If that’s the case, I’m glad retail clothier didn’t score too high…

Published by

Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

2 thoughts on “High School Career Survey Turns Out Surprisingly Accurate 40 Years Later”

  1. Sir,
    I was interested to find your comments on your Kuder Preference Record profile that you took many years ago. The predictive validity that it reflects was Kuder’s foremost objective in developing the assessment. It is in part due to his finding that there were just six dimensions of interests.
    Kuder died in the late 1990’s, but his achievements in interest measurement have been continued by Phil Harrington’s Adel, IA company Kuder Inc. which provides a career guidance program, based on Kuder’s prime concepts, to high schools in the US, as well as a number of developing nations in Africa and several European school systems.




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