Advantages of a STEM education

Elizabeth Fequiere, Staff Writer

Statistics have shown that too many students spend tens of thousands of dollars to attend college and graduate with degrees in the humanities, fine arts or similar areas that they have difficulty finding jobs in. There are fewer and fewer students pursuing degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. As a result, there is also an inadequate number of qualified teachers who are able to teach effectively in these subjects.

One of the problems is pop culture glamorizes fine arts, social sciences and the humanities over more practical jobs. Science, technology, engineering and math are all areas that are in high demand and can be quite lucrative, but they’re not exciting enough to elicit the attention from the majority of students.

Degrees in STEM areas open so many doors. Not only do these students have more access to scholarships to pay for school, they have a better chance of getting a job after graduation.

Job placement is a concern for every college student and the openings in these fields increase annually along with the growing demand for newer and more user-friendly technology.

The federal government sees the lack of interest in STEM fields as an increasing national problem that needs to be addressed at a young age, which is why it seeks to offer students the chance to learn computer programming in grades K-12.

The United States Department of Education has created a committee on STEM education (CoSTEM), comprised of 13 agencies, to facilitate a “cohesive national strategy” to improve the quality of education in these fields as well as “increasing and sustaining public and youth engagement with STEM.”

As a nation, we rely so heavily on technology in all aspects of life, to have a highly functional government, create grade A weapons, sustain a growing economy, etc.

Likewise, UND has created its own STEM initiative. The UND STEM Faculty Work Group addresses “the continued need to recruit, retain, and graduate students in the STEM discipline.”

Furthermore, they state, “students in all disciplines at UND should be educated to be STEM-literate citizens, empowered with 21st century skills of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking (the Four C’s).”

The goals for this Work Group is to create easier entry into STEM and spread awareness of the importance of STEM in hopes of generating more interest as well as continuing to monitor the industry and “identify national trends in STEM Education.”

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that “STEM graduates are expected to receive the highest starting salaries.”

According to the survey taken, “more than half of the employer’s” plan to hire “graduates with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields” making these degrees the most valuable. The average salaries in 2016 for bachelor’s degrees in engineering, computer science, math and sciences, and business range from over $50,000 to around $65,000.

STEM graduates stand to live a better quality of life, making enough to support their households, as well as job sustainability because of the reliability of the industry.

From a national concern to local implementation, students are able, now more than ever, to successfully pursue degrees in these vitally important areas. Knowledge of computer programming and the growing need for technology only increases the viability of this industry. However, getting students to realize this is the issue.

Elizabeth Fequiere is an  staff writer for   The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]