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Getting Started with CTY

Meet Kristen Chase and her 13-year old daughter, Quinlan, a current Johns Hopkins CTY student who recently qualified for programming through Talent Search. Here’s how she learned about CTY and the Talent Search, as well as a look at her application and qualification process. Hopefully, her experience will help you as you explore CTY for your child.

One Parent’s Journey Through Talent Search

Kristen Chase and daughter Quinlan

Prior to my daughter starting middle school, I decided to have her tested by a local educational psychologist to see what school would be the best fit for her. Even though she had not qualified for her current school’s gifted program, I wanted to have her tested in a different environment, as well as gain more insight into her learning style.

Turns out based on her scores, she more than qualified for the gifted program. I found myself wanting to provide her with some extra learning opportunities in the summer and throughout the school year—and give her some much-needed encouragement and celebration of her abilities since she often felt bored in her classroom.

Unfortunately, much of what I discovered involved more of the same kind of school work she was already doing, and not necessarily programming and courses aimed specifically at gifted kids, who often learn in a different (and frequently much quicker) way.

That’s when I remembered the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY), which a friend of mine had mentioned to me a few years ago. It turned out that their Talent Search was exactly what I was looking for.

What is Talent Search?

As I learned after much online research, Talent Search is the gateway to CTY and gives students the opportunity to take an above-level test. This helps identify your child’s strengths and directs you to resources that will help you nurture them.

If the words “Talent Search” or “above-level test” sound ominous, don’t be scared. It’s really quite a simple application process that doesn’t take long at all, and the test isn’t meant to be high-stress.

Here’s how Talent Search works.

Simply apply online, then set up a test date at your local testing center. Given the short testing time and flexible schedule offerings, we chose the SCAT, but there are various test options by grade; make sure to check which tests apply to your child’s grade level.

If you’re wondering whether your child should study for the SCAT, I will say that my daughter did not and was perfectly comfortable with the process, which is saying a lot for a child who is a pretty nervous test taker. And for someone who had never taken a test like this at a testing center, she took everything in stride. I was probably much more anxious than she was.

Once the test was over, her scores were available online within a week. Shortly thereafter, CTY sent a follow-up letter to explain the scoring, as well as which CTY programs she was eligible for, along with a certificate. 

What happens after you find out you’re eligible for CTY?

Depending on which CTY programs you’re eligible for, you can then peruse the online course offerings, summer options, and family programming to determine what your child (and/or your family) would like to take.

Because we qualified right before summer, my daughter and I decided to wait a bit and look at how her first semester of middle school went before signing up. We actually chose an all-day family program at a local museum as our first CTY experience, just to get our feet wet, and really enjoyed it.

You might find that during the school year, your child is busy with their school work and extra curricular activities so the summer learning opportunities might be more up your alley. Or, maybe your child needs some extra challenges, or has an interest in coursework that’s not available at their school. As a busy parent, I really appreciate the flexibility in choosing what works best for us and when.

After registering for an online program, I was impressed with how thoroughly all the bases were covered, with email confirmations, program materials, and everything we needed to get started, delivered right to our fingertips online.

Whether your child takes a class every semester, attends their summer program, or you just participate in the exciting family programs available, based on my own experience I’m sure you will appreciate the support you and your child will receive as part of the Johns Hopkins CTY program. And as we fill out high school applications, I’m proud to be able to put Johns Hopkins CTY Talent Search under “special awards and achievements.”

Kristen Chase is the CEO/Publisher of the popular site CoolMomPicks.comShe lives in the 'burbs of Philly with her 4 kids, where she advocates for parents of very bright students looking to support their kids' education inside and outside of the classroom.