PITTSBURGH (CBS) – Before you even get to the student loan part of it, deciding on a college can be an incredibly stressful time for teens.

Now, there’s a unique new tool that promises to help students and their families take the guesswork out of one of the most expensive decisions they’ll ever make.

Tricia Bradely has two talented kids. Both study hard and are accomplished musicians.

However, with the cost of college often topping the $250,000 mark, she wants to make sure they think long and hard about what they want to study.

As a junior in high school, Carter is not thinking law, but a career in music or sports.

Tricia wanted him to look at other some possibilities. So, she suggested Latitude, which is a recently-launched online assessment tool designed for teens and young adults.

“We help them understand themselves in the context of work by testing them and assessing them on the 14 aptitudes or natural abilities that are most important to career choice,” YouScience CEO Philip Hardin said.

The test focuses more on things like hand-eye coordination, idea generation, pattern memory and inductive reasoning.

Based on the results, the program matches the students’ abilities with careers requiring those skills..

Other than musical composer, all of the careers were things Carter had never considered. He was particularly surprised when the test suggested medical engineer.

“I didn’t think I wanted to go into medicine, but then I looked at description of the job itself and it intrigued me,” Carter said.

Carter’s sister, Lily, is in college studying to be a biomedical engineer.

“My mom said, ‘Take this test. I want to make sure this is really what you should be doing,’” Lily said.

“I’d like her to be able to consider other possibilities before it’s too late, before we put $250,000 into an education that she decides, ‘Well I really want to be a painter,’” Tricia said.

Anna Ivey, of Ivey Consulting, helps students navigate the college admission process.

She believes only time will tell if it really works. However, she said this is different from other tests that have been around for years.

“They are the only tool out there that is thinking about the process from high school and picking a college and picking a major up through the educational process in college and getting out into the job market,” Ivey said.

Lily’s test came back as a great match for her biomedicine.

Carter is still thinking about a career in music, but said he now has a lot to think about.

“There are careers out there that most people don’t even now exist,” Carter said. “It’s just cool to know that if you think you are out of options, you are not even close.”

The price for knowing those options is $399, which will allow both the students and parents to access the test.


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