People who pursue an education in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field are typically analytical, intelligent, practical, and detail-oriented. Employers and employees alike seek these people. STEM majors have a solid reputation for being useful to society, innovative, and also financially stable.
Throughout our high school experience, people pushed us to pursue something more practical and useful. This is not only for financial security, but to aid in solving challenging problems in the field of technology. We believe that anyone who’s good at science and engineering is inherently “smarter” and “more useful” than people in humanities.
Although a career in STEM can be rewarding and enriching, make sure that it is the right track for you. As a society, we place undo pressure on kids to achieve and do a disservice by forcing students to pursue subjects they aren’t interested in.
So how can you tell if STEM is right for you? Here are five difficult questions to ask yourself before you decide to major in STEM:
1. Am I majoring in STEM just to please my parents?
Family pressure is a huge factor when it comes to students studying in a STEM field. This is understandable as STEM majors tend to make a higher salary and are always in demand. However, if you lack the desire to study and the necessary aptitude, you may end up graduating with a very low GPA.
All this may hinder chances for internship opportunities, which will remove your competitive edge over other STEM majors. While salary and job security are indeed important, you also need to understand that barely getting by in a STEM major won’t guarantee that you’ll even get a job.
2. Am I passionate about working in STEM or is there something I’d much rather be doing?
People might tell you that you should always choose money over passion. If you aren’t passionate at all, keeping up with the heavy course load will be a chore. It’s important to take opportunities into consideration, such as networking through your passions. You could miss out on a lot of opportunities for professional development if you spend 10 hours on a single assignment and feel disengaged from what you’re actually learning.
3. Am I really prepared for college-level coursework in math, science, and engineering?
Even if you get all A’s in your high school STEM classes, it’s not as easy to get good grades in college. In college, it isn’t unheard of for a good student to get only a C and be ecstatic about it because of how much effort it took to pass such an upper-level course. If you honestly think that you aren’t ready to delve into higher-level topics in STEM, then STEM may not be right for you.
4. Am I just doing this for the money?
You might be pressuring yourself to study STEM simply because you believe that you’ll make more money. It’s more important to focus first on what you’re good at. Also, think about what comes easily to you when considering a career. It’s also important to consider how you can contribute to whatever field you’re interested in. You should think about what you’re passionate about and what makes you stand out. Then, you’ll hold irreplaceable value in your career, regardless of what it is.
5. Do I have relevant hobbies/projects that help me stand out from other people pursuing a STEM major?
I’m sorry to break it to you, but like everything else, STEM is highly competitive. Those who don’t apply what they’ve learned in class won’t be attractive candidates for highly coveted positions in technology. Employers can tell who’s going to make it as an engineer, and who isn’t. How? Based on what students do during their free time. If you spend your free time doing cool activities such as building your own computers, programming a robot, or anything that involves tinkering, then you do have potential. And you also have the initiative that employers are looking for. In case you don’t naturally gravitate towards these hobbies, you might want to ask yourself what you really want to do. Don’t just go into STEM for the money.
If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, it’s critical to be honest with yourself about what you’re good at. You should also think about your personal interests. This awareness better equips you to work in a field where you can excel. You can still be driven, intelligent, practical, and talented without being a STEM major. Nothing builds your confidence and employability more than your talent, willingness to learn, the pursuit of relevant side hustles, and most of all, genuine passion for your work.