Like most teens in their junior year of high school, Jill Hassler has big dreams for her future.
“I’ve thought about a lot of careers,” the bubbly 16-year-old said. “I thought about being a movie director, an astronaut, the president, you name it.”
To gain some perspective, Jill’s mom and her school counselor encouraged Jill to participate in the ASVAB Career Exploration Program (ASVAB CEP).
“I am familiar with the ASVAB. I took it over 40 years ago and I still have my results sheet,” Jill’s mom, Kathy Hassler, said with a laugh.
The ASVAB is a multiple aptitude test that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success.
Kathy Hassler is the assistant principal at Cumberland County High School in Crossville, Tenn. “I encourage all the students to take [the ASVAB],” Kathy said from her office. “For kids like my daughter, who aren’t 100% sure what they want to do, the ASVAB test and post-test activities give them a sense of comfort in knowing what they’re good at.”
The completely voluntary ASVAB CEP is designed for students in grades 10-12, as well as first and second year post-secondary students.
“There’s this stigma that it’s just a military test but, in my opinion, it’s the best career test,” Kathy said.
“For some people, it’s off-putting because they think taking it is going to push you into the military, but that didn’t have any part of it,” Jill said. “The ASVAB isn’t anything to be afraid of. This is going to help us figure out our future.”
All participants gain access to How to Get There, a guide that details the path to about 1,000+ careers, including college and credentials. Those interested in exploring military careers have the added ability to explore careers across services to find the best fit before talking to a recruiter.
Juniors and seniors interested in the military receive a usable AFQT (military entrance score) that they can use to enlist after high school graduation if they choose. The scores are good for two years.
“Jill was not really interested in the military,” Kathy said. “I know a few kids who are going to enlist, and for them, they’re excited because they know where they’ll be headed after basic training. For Jill, ASVAB showed her places she could be successful.”
Jill said her favorite part of the ASVAB CEP experience was the FYI, or interest inventory.
“The FYI told me my interests and it gave me over 300 career matches to explore. It’s amazing to see how many job options you have where you can actually be happy.”
“I was really surprised by the results,” Jill continued. “There were careers I had never considered, and now one of them might be the one I choose. I knew I didn’t want a job that required math, and I was able to filter those jobs out of my search results.”
Jill said she enjoyed reading the job descriptions and imagining what a day on the job would be like. She also considered salary and job growth in her evaluation.
“It might sound nerdy, but I love researching all of the options,” she said. “I really love to travel. For me, there’s nothing more exciting than meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. So, when I found international affairs, I got really excited. The travel requirements, meeting high ranking officials, writing and reviewing treaties sounded like exactly the kind of work I want to do.”
Jill said the ASVAB CEP website allowed her to easily see which colleges offer the major she’s interested in for the career she desires to pursue.
In the meantime, she will focus on keeping her GPA up and remaining active in the school community as she nears the end of her junior year.
“I am looking at three in-state schools and I plan to apply to the Coast Guard Academy to keep my options open,” said Jill.
When asked if she had any advice for other teens considering ASVAB CEP participation, Jill said, “If you have any indecisiveness, this test is going to help point you in the direction of where you’ll be happy. Who doesn’t want that?”
For more on the ASVAB Career Exploration Program or to bring ASVAB CEP to your school, visit ASVABProgram.com.
Dr. Shannon Salyer is the National Program Director for the ASVAB Career Exploration Program. Kate McLean, communications director for ASVAB CEP, also contributed to this article.