Things You May Not Know About a STEM Major
When you hear the word ‘STEM,’ what is the first thing that pops your mind? Hopefully, not just flowers! The world has progressed far and beyond where the acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
If that concatenation of letters sounded heavy to your ears, so little is known to students wishing to pursue a major in any of the subjects in this domain. Even sadder is that many students consider STEM education to be odious and scary (when it is anything but so).
This article will highlight the lesser-known aspects of STEM education to help you make an informed decision.
What Does a Good STEM Major Cover?
A suitable STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) major helps students with a strong foundation in these fields’ principles, theories, and practical applications. In addition, it equips them with the knowledge and skills to tackle complex problems, conduct scientific research, and innovate in their respective disciplines. Here are some key aspects that a good STEM major typically covers:
- Fundamental Concepts: A solid STEM major covers the fundamental concepts and theories relevant to the field. Depending on the chosen major, This could include calculus, physics, chemistry, computer science, genetics, or statistics.
- Hands-on Experience: Practical applications are crucial in STEM education. Good STEM majors emphasize hands-on experience through laboratory work, fieldwork, or project-based learning. This allows students to apply theoretical knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and gain real-world problem-solving abilities.
- Research Skills: STEM majors often focus on research methodologies and techniques. Students learn to design experiments, collect and analyze data, and draw meaningful conclusions. These skills are essential for advancing knowledge and making scientific discoveries.
- Technology and Innovation: STEM fields are characterized by rapid advancements and technological innovation. A good STEM major should expose students to cutting-edge technologies, tools, and software used in their respective disciplines. This helps students stay abreast of the latest developments and prepares them for careers in industry or research.
- Interdisciplinary Perspective: Many STEM challenges require a multidisciplinary approach. A good STEM major promotes interdisciplinary learning by integrating knowledge and principles from different fields. This encourages students to think critically and solve complex problems from various angles.
- Communication: Effective communication and collaboration are essential in STEM fields. A good STEM major emphasizes oral and written communication skills, teamwork, and collaboration. Students learn to present their ideas, work in teams, and engage in scientific discourse.
- Ethical Considerations: Good STEM majors also cover ethical considerations and the responsible use of scientific knowledge. Students explore the ethical implications of their work and learn to make informed decisions while upholding professional and ethical standards.
There is no cookie-cutter approach to defining a good STEM major. It is an umbrella term for fields of study that allow students to explore various backgrounds and interests.
In some cases, this would mean a highly technical field. In others, it could simply refer to courses that offer students with experiential learning opportunities. In other words, any major that allows its students to apply their problem-solving and analytical capabilities to real-world scenarios can be a good STEM major.
One good example of this would be learning the technique of ethical hacking for a contest such as the National Cyber League. The point is not to win the tournament but to introduce students to technologies that make for a solid resume-building experience.
Popular Examples of STEM Courses
Some students have a pretty narrow view of the subjects that fall under STEM education. Besides cybersecurity and ethical hacking, the surprising options in this major include:
1. Data Analytics
The volume of data will only increase by the day. A significant number of organizations rely on data to draw customer insights. This is why the demand for data analytics professionals who can gather, manage, and draw insights is rising.
A data analytics degree combines mathematics, business, and Information Technology (IT) skills and exposes students to tools like Tableau, Python, SQL, etc.
2. Environmental Science
This degree primarily revolves around rising concerns about global warming and climate change. Students study subjects like the quality of air, water, and energy sources. They also delve deeper into environmental issues such as biodiversity, overpopulation, global warming, etc.
3. Game Development
Games are not just for fun. Today, gaming strategies are employed by brands to offer engaging customer experiences. At the same time, companies use gaming strategies to test safety and educate employees.
A degree in game programming and development is most suitable for those who find designing real-life simulations in 2D or 3D exciting.
Wondering how this course made it to the list? Geoscience does not just deal with rock formations and volcanoes. It goes deeper than that. It involves studying processes that shaped the Earth over time and how ecosystems are interconnected with water, as the US Geological Survey states.
Students of this course use the latest technologies to analyze data and study all about the Earth and its natural processes.
How Difficult Is a STEM Major, and Is It Worth the Effort?
It is true that technical STEM fields, such as engineering and computer science, often receive the utmost importance. According to the National Science Foundation, the current STEM workforce in the US comprises 6.6 to 7.5 million workers.
Is this field of education challenging? To some degree, yes. However, platforms like Proprep take the fear out of STEM by offering customized support for STEM-specific courses through video tutorials and practice opportunities.
Once students overcome their initial apprehensions and pursue the course anyway, they can secure high-paying careers. The demand for STEM-related fields is growing, and the unemployment rate is statistically low.
Moreover, STEM education equips students with various transferable skills that hiring managers find appealing. Therefore, these majors are definitely worth pursuing!
Top Career Prospects After a STEM Major
Students who have pursued a STEM major will find plenty of career opportunities. Some of the top job opportunities include:
- Computer Programmers
- Software app developers
- Civil, chemical, and mechanical engineers
- Environmentalists or researchers in the field
- Data analysts
- Statisticians in Data Science
- IT Managers
To Pursue or Not to Pursue: Is That the Question?
The time of preparing college applications can be a challenging one, especially when you’re sitting on the fence regarding STEM education. The first determinant is whether a student has passionately enjoyed science and math during school days.
Such students may choose a STEM major, but exploring all possible opportunities in this vast field is essential. Only a focused approach yields favorable results.
As for STEM in general, there are plenty of reasons to pursue it – high salaries, promising career growth, transferable skills, great travel opportunities, and the chance to make a societal impact.
A good STEM major provides a comprehensive education encompassing fundamental concepts, hands-on experience, research skills, technological awareness, interdisciplinary perspectives, communication and collaboration abilities, and ethical considerations. By covering these aspects, a STEM major equips students with a strong foundation and prepares them for successful careers in their chosen fields while contributing to advancing science and technology.